The 750,000th Bobcat skid-steer loader is slated to roll off the assembly line this summer in Gwinner, ND. Coincidentally, Bobcat also celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
The skid-steer loader was invented 50 years ago by brothers Louis and Cyril Keller in their blacksmith shop in rural Minnesota. From a simple, cardboard-drawn sketch, the Kellers built a three-wheel, self-propelled loader to ease manure-removal chores on area turkey farms.
Fifty years later, Bobcat is a $2.5 billion business and the seventh largest manufacturer of construction equipment in the world. The company now employs 4,000 people worldwide. Its network of dealers extends across 90 countries. In December 2007, South Korean manufacturer Doosan Infracore Co. purchased Bobcat from Ingersoll-Rand for $4.9 billion. The deal was the largest overseas acquisition by a South Korean company. You can read more about Bobcat’s 50th anniversary here.
ASSEMBLY magazine profiled the Gwinner plant in the June 2007 issue. The efficient, innovative facility encompasses 750,000 square feet of manufacturing space spread across 11 acres. The plant operates around the clock, running three shifts per day, five days per week. It employs approximately 1,000 hourly workers and 300 salaried workers. Read more about it here.
Ironically, the company’s founder, Eugene Dahl, died last week at age 83. You can read his obituary here.
Real Bobcat afficionados may want to check the new book, Bobcat: Fifty Years, by Martin J. Padgett.