Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Bobcat Company

Perry is a Regional salesman for the Bobcat Company and often plays golf with us on weekends when he is in town. He loaned me a book that the company published to commemorate their 50 years of progress. The company has an interesting history with some similarities to Hughes Bros. Co. here in Seward in that four Melroe brothers were instrumental in the growth of the company. The Bobcat company has its roots in the Melroe Manufacturing Company in Gwinner, ND that was set up back in the late '40's to build windrow pickup attachments for combines. We had such an attachment for our combine which we used in harvesting sweet clover seed when I was growing up. In the '50's, Eddy Velo, a turkey farmer in MN inspired the Keller brothers who were local blacksmiths, to build a small three-wheel loader for cleaning manure from his pole barn. The Melroe brothers purchased the manufacturing rights and the Keller brothers went to work for the Melroes. This was the humble beginning of a business that was later purchased by the Clark Equipment Company in 1969, by Ingersoll-Rand in 1995 and the Doosan Group of South Korea in 2007 for 4.9 billion dollars.The Bobcat Skid-Loader is sold worldwide and has the popularity that other competing products are often called “Bobcats”. The Bobcat company produces over 70 attachments for the skid-loader along with other laborsaving machines. They make a Utility Vehicle which has competition from several other companies. Utility vehicles are getting popular even here in Seward. Perry has been with the Company for a number of years and tells me that he knew the Melroe brothers. As a banker in one of the neighboring small towns, his Dad did the payroll for the Bobcat Co. in the early days. We may not be able to duplicate success stories of this nature today but certainly need to promote innovative small business opportunities.

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