Tag Archive for 'AEM Hall of Fame'


From Plows to Shovels to Lasers, AEM Hall of Fame Inventors Altered the Course of History

As the deadline draws near for new AEM Hall of Fame inductees, the Hall continues its search for as-yet-unrecognized inventors whose contributions to the equipment manufacturing industry also contributed to the course of history. While considering who should be nominated, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) looks to inspire by recalling inventors already in the AEM Hall of Fame.

If these stories inspire you to nominate someone for their contributions to the equipment manufacturing industry, submit your nomination by clicking here before June 12, 2020.

Continuous Track Drive Changed How We Get from Here to the Most Difficult There (Benjamin Holt)

In a day and age where a steam-powered tractor could produce sixty brake horsepower, but weigh 24 tons when fully loaded for duty, anything but the most compacted, solid soil could prove a traction nightmare.

By the time Benjamin Holt got to thinking about how to solve this problem, the concept of using a flat piece of material to spread the weight of a machine’s wheel to improve traction was more than sixty years old. From James Boydell’s “dreadnought wheel,” to John Fowler’s “endless railway,” to Alvin Lombard’s “Steam Log Hauler,” the idea to rotate something around a wheel to improve its traction was there.

What wasn’t there was a design that worked on any and every type of surface, especially the softer soils found around Holt’s home in Stockton, Calif.

After buying and improving a patent from Hornsby and Sons with a smarter design and better materials, Holt and company tested his “track layer” in the wheat fields of Stockton in 1904 to complete success.

During the trials, Holt Manufacturing Company photographer Charles Clements mentioned to Holt his design crawled like a “caterpillar.”

The Invention of Modern Construction Began with a Better Hole in the Ground (William Smith Otis)

Somewhere in the archives of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Va. sits patent number 1,089, issued in the year 1839, to a 26-year-old civil engineer from Philadelphia, for a “crane-excavator for excavating and removing earth.” We know this invention better today as “the steam shovel.”

Otis had assembled the first prototype four years prior in Canton, Mass. to assist in the construction of a railway line between Norwich and Worcester, Mass. for the Western Railroad. His invention would go on to allow for the creation of everything from the Transcontinental Railroad, to Route 66, to the Panama Canal.

Unfortunately, his death just nine months after the patent was issued would keep him from the renown that would visit his cousin Elisha. Fourteen years after William’s death, Elisha would stand upon a hoisted platform in the middle of New York’s Crystal Palace as an axeman cut the rope, demonstrating his invention for an elevator brake worked.

America Couldn’t Fall in Love with the Automobile Until it Could Learn to Build Roads Faster (Harry H. Barber)

When Harry H. Barber was born, America’s oldest asphalt-paved roads were barely two years old. By the time Barber was 52, in 1930, nearly 27 million vehicles were destroying the roughly 400 million square yards of asphalt roads faster than they could be replaced.

Asphalt would have to be dumped, spread and smoothed by hand in order to prepare it for a relatively complex, horse-drawn roller to flatten it out and compact it. However, in 1930, Barber made his first sketches of what would become the first modern asphalt paver.

Using a screw conveyor to move and place the pre-mixed asphalt on the gravel bed, and then a built-in screed to smooth and true the material, roads could be laid down much more quickly. First exhibited at the 1931 Road Show in St. Louis (the progenitor to today’s CONEXPO-CON/AGG), the Barber-Greene asphalt paver would go on to pave the way to the America we know now.

How a Barn Full of Turkey Manure Led to a New Machine with Big Power for Small Spaces (The Keller Brothers)

Minnesota blacksmiths Cyril and Louis Keller, a crafty pair of brothers with a shop near Fargo, N.D., were brought a problem from a local farmer he could use their help with in 1956: Figure out a way to use a machine to clear manure out of the tight quarters of his two-level turkey barn, so he and his team wouldn’t have to keep doing it by hand.

Their idea? A three-wheeled machine with a front-loader bucket hinged in the back that was very low-weight, and could turn around within its own length. The progenitor of the modern skid-steer was born.

The skid-steer would soon become a sort of universal application platform, with its ability to handle attachments that do far more than scoop and dump. This one machine could be a bulldozer, mulcher, crane, forklift or even grader with the right attachment, allowing everyone including farmers, contractors and grounds maintenance professionals more capability with less space.

The Plow that Broke the Plains, and Fed the World (John Deere)

In the year 2020, one of the scariest phrases on the minds of global leaders is “food insecurity.” However, more than two hundred years beforehand, people looked at the tall grass prairies of the American Midwest, some of the most fertile land in the world, and despaired because they couldn’t open it up.

European farmers, more used to creating their fields out of previously-wooded areas of the Old World with looser soil, were befuddled. Their old wooden plows couldn’t cut through the tough root systems and extraordinarily dense soil of the prairie, and later cast-iron plows would bounce around and get fouled by caked-on soil.

Deere, remembering polishing needles in sand so they could pass more easily through leather and fabric at his father’s Vermont tailor shop, wondered if using highly polished steel and changing the shape of the moldboard it attached to, would let the sturdy metal slice through the sod without having to constantly scour the dirt from the edge. Deere tested his first polished steel plow near his home in Grand Detour, Ill. in 1837, and from there, fields in the Midwest previously thought to be unfarmable started sprouting wheat and corn.

Today, the U.S. Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin) produces almost 4.5 percent of the world’s agricultural value. It might not have happened had John Deere hadn’t spent his youth polishing needles for his dad.

Now, the AEM Hall of Fame is seeking, once more, to recognize the inventors, leaders, and innovators that have made today possible. Click here to submit your nomination by June 12.

About the AEM Hall of Fame

The AEM Hall of Fame traces its roots to 1993 and the not-for profit industry-wide Construction Equipment Hall of Fame initiated by Construction Equipment magazine. AEM served on the Hall of Fame Board of Directors; it took over ownership and operation in 2008, creating the AEM Hall of Fame for the off-road equipment manufacturing industry.

About the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)

AEM is the North America-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers with more than 1,000 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture and construction-related industry sectors worldwide. The equipment manufacturing industry in the United States supports 2.8 million jobs and contributes roughly $288 billion to the economy every year.

AEM Hall of Fame Inducts Mary Andringa of Vermeer Corp.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) announces the newest inductee to the AEM Hall of Fame: Mary Andringa of Vermeer Corp.

The AEM Hall of Fame recognizes individuals whose innovations, ideas and leadership have advanced the off-road equipment manufacturing industry and contributed to its success in the past and into tomorrow.

Mary Andringa

“We are very pleased to announce and congratulate Mary Andringa as the latest inductee into the AEM Hall of Fame,” said AEM President Dennis Slater. “She joins an elite group of respected industry leaders whose work and accomplishments inspire the next generation to continue our industry’s legacy of progress enhancing productivity, sustainability, and economic and social prosperity.”

Nominations for the AEM Hall of Fame are open year-round. An independent panel of industry experts evaluates potential inductees, and honorees are publicly announced and celebrated during special ceremonies at AEM’s annual conference of member companies.

More than 60 industry leaders have been inducted into the AEM Hall of Fame since its inception in 1993. Learn more and read their stories at www.aem.org/HallofFame.

About Mary Andringa, the 2019 AEM Hall of Fame Inductee

Mary Andringa’s commitment and relentless leadership positioned Vermeer Corporation as a strong voice in the industry – for lean manufacturing, for the education of our future workforce, for the legislation of policies having a positive impact on manufacturing, for family-owned and -operated companies and for taking care of the people of Vermeer.

Mary’s own investment into lean manufacturing led to organization-wide change for continuous improvement and growth. An example of success: Vermeer’s 12-inch in-feed brush chipper went from raw steel to finished product in two days, rather than 52.

Starting her career teaching elementary students, Mary has a passion for education and continuous learning that’s continued throughout her time at Vermeer. This passion prompted Vermeer to expand its education initiatives at all levels – early childhood education with an onsite early learning center, college-age students with an international leadership program and onsite facility at Iowa State University, as well as adults with preparation for retirement.

Mary actively communicates and collaborates with legislators on issues that matter to advanced manufacturing, exporters and small- to medium- sized businesses. She served on the President’s Export Council and Ex-Im Bank Advisory Committee, chaired the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and was co-chair of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.

Continuing the legacy her father left, Mary helped define and promote the Vermeer 4P Philosophy (principles, people, product and profit), with people being our most important asset. Vermeer initiatives include an onsite primary care clinic and pharmacy for employees and their families.

Mary is now Chair of the Board at Vermeer after filling roles as CEO, co-CEO, president and COO. Her level of passion and commitment have made her a voice of change and innovation not only at Vermeer, but in the industry and community. 

About the AEM Hall of Fame – www.aem.org/HallofFame

The AEM Hall of Fame traces its roots to 1993 and the not-for profit industry-wide Construction Equipment Hall of Fame initiated by Construction Equipment magazine. AEM served on the Hall of Fame Board of Directors; it took over ownership and operation in 2008, creating the AEM Hall of Fame for the off-road equipment manufacturing industry.

About the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) – www.aem.org
AEM is the North American-based international trade group providing innovative business development resources to advance the off-road equipment manufacturing industry in the global marketplace. AEM membership comprises more than 1,000 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture and construction-related sectors worldwide. 

Ed Malzahn Ditch Witch founder, industry leader, innovator and inventor died December 11, at the age of 94.


Ditch Witch inventor and industry developer Gus Edwin “Ed” George Malzahn died Friday. He was 94.

 Ed Malzahn

Ed Malzahn

The first commercial Ditch Witch product was introduced in 1949. It was the first mechanized, compact, service-line trencher developed for laying underground water lines between the street main and the house. The Ditch Witch trencher solved an age-old problem for the utility contractors of its day.

With the growing popularity of the Malzahns’ trencher, Charlie’s Machine Shop became The Charles Machine Works, Inc., which still maintains its headquarters in Perry, Oklahoma, a town of about 5,000 residents in the north-central part of the state. In addition to trenchers, the company today designs and manufactures a wide variety of underground construction equipment bearing the Ditch Witch name.

Tiffany Sewell-Howard, Ed Malzahn

Tiffany Sewell-Howard, Ed Malzahn

Tiffany Sewell-Howard, Ed Malzahn’s granddaughter, became CEO of The Charles Machine Works, Inc., in 2005. Now in his 90s, founder Ed Malzahn still serves as company president and chairman of the board.

The Perry, Oklahoma, headquarters of the Ditch Witch organization is on an expansive campus that contains the company’s 30-acre (120,000 m2) manufacturing plant and training, testing, research and product development facilities. Ditch Witch worldwide headquarters employs more than 1300 people.

The Ditch Witch compact trencher has twice been named “one of the 100 best American-made products in the world” by Fortune magazine. In 2002, the DWP was designated a historical mechanical engineering landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Malzahn is survived by his three children, nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.


The Oaklahoman http://newsok.com/article/5466810

Ditch Witch Memorial Guest Book



AEM Hall of Fame 




AEM Hall of Fame 2012 inductees are:John Deere, Pierre Bataille and Wood Brothers

Celebrating equipment industry innovators & leaders; a legacy for continued industry growth & achievement

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) announces the 2012 inductees into the AEM Hall of Fame, which recognizes and celebrates outstanding individuals in the off-road equipment industry, and their legacy of innovation, service and leadership. Their vision and hard work have been critical to advancing global economic and social prosperity; their legacy strengthens continued industry contributions to improving our quality of life, and serves as an inspiration for tomorrow’s leaders.

The 2012 inductees into the AEM Hall of Fame are:

  • John Deere (Deere & Company)
  • Pierre Bataille (Poclain)
  • Wood Brothers –  Keith, Leonard and Mervel (Woods Equipment Company)

AEM Hall of Fame inductees have been evaluated by an independent panel of industry experts on five criteria that are vital to the health of the off-road equipment manufacturing industry: 1) innovation, 2) industry contributions, 3) leadership, 4) corporate citizenship/social responsibility and 5) sustainability.

For more information on the AEM Hall of Fame and all its inductees, go online to the AEM Hall of Fame section of the AEM website – www.aem.org/HallofFame.

About the 2012 Hall of Fame inductees

Below are summaries for each of the 2012 honorees with some of the reasons they were selected for induction.

John Deere (Deere & Company)

John Deere

John Deere was a leader in his day in vision, innovation, and improving the quality of life for his fellow citizens.  The company marks its 175th anniversary in 2012, recognizing the significant influence Deere has had for almost two centuries in equipment manufacturing – an impact the Illinois blacksmith could not have imagined when he was first compelled to create tools that have evolved into machinery that helps build and feed the world.

“John Deere” has been synonymous with equipment almost since John Deere moved from New England to Grand Detour, Illinois, where his skills as a blacksmith were immediately in demand. Deere ultimately took his business to Moline, Illinois, which had access to better transportation routes and essential energy sources.

If Deere could have seen the future in 1837 when he created his innovative self-scouring plow for Midwestern farmers, he would have been amazed and proud to see that his namesake company would become a world leader in machinery manufacturing.

Deere built a global company on the core values of integrity, quality, commitment and innovation – one that produces machinery with a myriad of applications in agriculture, construction, forestry and turf care. John Deere made an everlasting mark and earned his place in the AEM Hall of Fame through the development of equipment manufacturing to its status today as a key contributor to our economic well-being and quality of life.

Pierre Batille

Pierre Bataille (Poclain)

Pierre Bataille was an industry innovator and a responsible leader, contributing to economic development in France while improving quality of life for his workforce and the industry.

The technology he helped develop, high pressure hydraulics, played a part in the huge increase in productivity for agricultural works, handling operations and earthmoving. He was a pioneer in development of the hydraulic excavator. He was the instigator to use production assembly lines for excavators in the early 1960s, increasing production and reliability; his concept of the swing drive and boom remain a standard today.

A leader in social responsibility, Bataille offered interest-free loans to his employees, a majority of whom were former farmers living in poor conditions who then more easily became homeowners. He developed a technical training center to provide workers and excavator operators with job training. Bataille established one of the first staffed company cafeterias for his employees and a network of buses to safely transport them to and from work; while not a widespread practice in the 1960s, Bataille instituted noise-reduction measures in the plant and on excavators.

Bataille’s civic service included leadership of French standardiza­tion and business development organizations, and he also served as president of the Commit­tee for European Construction Equipment. In 1990, Bataille was awarded the rank of Officer of the Legion of Honor by the French government in recognition of his entrepreneurial leadership.

Woods Brothers

Wood Brothers – Keith, Leonard and Mervel (Woods Equipment Company)

Keith, Leonard and Mervel Wood were problem solvers, risk takers and entrepreneurs who used these skills to fuel their drive for inventing and manufacturing. As pioneers in the development of rotary cutters and mowers, the Wood brothers helped create a prevalent product category for the short line industry.

One invention that dramatically affected the agricultural industry is the company’s iconic Batwing® rotary cutter, known generically as the flex-wing rotary cutter, first shipped in 1963. Other key inventions include the patented single V-belt drive system, used on virtually all residential and commercial mowers in use today, and the single attachment pin blade retention system, a design still used on most Woods cutters today.

The brothers sought to adapt their equipment to all types, sizes and models of trac­tors, including two adaptors that were predecessors of today’s standard 3-point hitch. In the 1970s, the Wood brothers elevated product support to a new level, ensuring sales and service were available across the country in the days before overnight delivery.

Starting the company after World War II in Oregon, Illinois, the Wood brothers contributed greatly to job creation and development of skilled labor in the region, training thousands as welders, machinists, metal fab­ricators, painters, engineers and office personnel. Sustainability for the brothers was always about doing right, for example, metal scrap recycling (not widespread in the ’40s and ’50s).

Nominations for the next Hall of Fame will open in June 2013.


AEM Hall of Fame Announces 2011 Inductees –

Off-road Equipment Industry Leaders Honored

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) announces new inductees into the AEM Hall of Fame, which recognizes and honors the accomplishments of those who have led the off-road equipment industry and contributed to its growth.

The latest inductees into the AEM Hall of Fame are:

  • Don Landoll, Chairman, Landoll Corporation
  • Elton Long, Vice President Construction Equipment Engineering Worldwide, Case Construction Equipment

Since 1993, the Hall has recognized industry leaders, inventors and visionaries as one way to highlight the contributions of the off-road equipment industry, specifically its people, to economic prosperity and quality of life. Inductees are examples to the leaders of tomorrow, who will build on their successes and continue their legacy of service.

Companies or individuals can submit nominations, and a panel of industry judges evaluates the submissions on the basis of five guiding principles: Innovation, Industry Contributions, Leadership, Corporate Citizenship/Social Responsibility, and Sustainability.

Since its inception in 1993, more than 35 industry leaders have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. For more information go online to www.aemHallofFame.com.

Printed below are summaries about the two 2011 AEM Hall of Fame inductees.

Don Landoll

Don Landoll

Don Landoll was born an inventor and has designed and manufactured innovative machinery. In 1963 he opened a welding, blacksmith, and radiator repair shop. In 1967 the production of agricultural products with the Landoll brand began. By 1970, Don had designed and patented a unique, innovative trailer which eventually changed the way many transport companies conducted their business. This trailer was capable of ground loading and off-loading equipment, and was known as the traveling axle.

Under Don’s leadership, the company continues to improve and expand its product lines. Landoll offers products for many segments – construction, agriculture, towing, forklift and military.

Landoll is the largest employer in its community, and Don and his employees have a culture of service, participating in many charitable organizations. Don actively supports industry and business interests to help ensure the strength of manufacturing in his state.

Don’s company follows as many sustainable practices as possible – it uses state-of-the-art powder paint systems, and participates in programs to recycle oil, mercury such as in light bulbs, and batteries, for their lead. The company is active in waste and storm water programs and electricity conservation, and it has a paperless invoicing system.

In 2007 Landoll Corporation was among five companies receiving a Regional Governor’s Award of Excellence from the State of Kansas. Landoll has also received the U.S. Department of Defense’s highest award presented to civilian contractors, the Pro Patria, for his support of the National Guard and Reserves.

Elton Long

Elton Long

Elton Long, who lived 1912 to 2003, has been called the “Father of the Backhoe.” He earned 46 patents during his career for designing and improving equipment, but he is best known for designing and producing the first integrated tractor loader/backhoe for Case Construction Equipment. The machine provided improved quality and operating efficiencies, taking on tasks once done by hand, and manufacturing efficiencies, since machines did not need to be retrofitted.

Long built an enduring legacy of innovation and success that continues influencing the construction equipment industry today. His leadership and career are well illustrated by Case’s production, between 1957 and 1960, of 11 different models totaling almost 11,000 loader/backhoes. No other previous three-year period in Case’s history had seen the release of so many units, and this is credited largely to Long and his impeccable leadership of the engineering department.

As the company’s vice president of engineering, Long’s contributions included the hydraulic Extendahoe, an extendible dipper stick that added 2.5 feet to the backhoe’s dig depth. There was also the first hydraulic system for a construction machine that could be controlled from the operator’s seat, the first dozer blade controlled from the operator’s seat, the over-center backhoe, load stabilizers and swing mechanisms.

Long was also a decorated pilot in World War II, earning 16 Air Medals, a Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Flying Cross after flying 100 missions over Europe.