Bobcat Company marked the milestone of production of its one millionth loader with a formal ceremony on July 12, sharing the occasion with its valued employees and the community of Gwinner, North Dakota, home to Bobcat’s primary production facility. The company also celebrated with family members of those who invented the original loader, perfected the design, brought it to market and created the brand five decades ago. Past organizational leaders and hundreds of others who have been part of the Bobcat success story were also present at the event.
The ceremony was held at the Gwinner factory and featured remarks from Rich Goldsbury, president of Bobcat and Doosan (parent company of Bobcat) for North America; Gwinner Mayor Dan McKeever; North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley; North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven and North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer. Sylvan Melroe, one of the organization’s first marketing managers, talked about the perseverance of the Melroe family, who owned Melroe Manufacturing, and built the first Bobcat loaders. He reflected upon the early days of the loader — as it transitioned from the original three-wheeled version to the skid-steer loader we know today — and how Melroe Manufacturing improved the design that became increasingly tested by challenging jobs the more the machine grew in popularity.
Cyril Keller, one of the brothers who invented the original three-wheeled loader and soon after partnered with Melroe Manufacturing, was on-hand as well.
The ceremony culminated with a product line roll-off of a Special Edition One-Millionth Bobcat Loader, which Bobcat is selling in limited quantities through authorized dealers.
“This entire celebration is about much more than a single loader, the actual millionth machine,” Goldsbury said. “It represents everything Bobcat has accomplished as an organization over six decades, and it signifies our vision for the future. We embrace and honor our history, so it was particularly special to have some of the company’s pioneers and early leaders here. But we wanted to bring them together with those who are moving us forward into the new era — those who will help us build the next million loaders.”
A day filled with events
The general public was invited to an assortment of Bobcat-sponsored events, including a 5K run/walk in Gwinner, Bobcat factory tours, carnival-type festivities in the Gwinner Park and a “Bobcat square dance” loader performance by four brothers who have 130 years of combined service at Bobcat Company. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) also made the Gwinner event a stop on its “I Make America” nationwide tour, which advocates for pro-manufacturing policies to create more jobs in the U.S. and keep the economy competitive with other countries. Attendees over the age of 18 could enter to win a 2014 Harley-Davidson Road King featuring a customer “I Make America” paint job.
“It was particularly special to host the ‘I Make America’ tour,” Goldsbury said. “Bobcat is a great manufacturing success story for so many reasons, from the generations that have been employed to the products they’ve produced. Thousands of Bobcat employees have given many global customers the tools they use to make a living.”
Bobcat Company also helped Gwinner city officials dedicate three welcome signs at different entrances to town signifying “Home of one million Bobcat loaders.”
The company celebrated the production of 500,000 loaders in 2001 and 750,000 units in conjunction with its 50th anniversary in 2008. The million loaders built by Bobcat represent the largest production of this equipment by any manufacturer globally.
Today, the Bobcat name still matches the performance qualities of the enduring international brand. Bobcat Company has become North Dakota’s largest manufacturer with more than 2,000 employees in the state. Bobcat products have representation through more than 900 dealers in more than 100 countries with production facilities in Gwinner, Bismarck and Wahpeton, North Dakota; Litchfield, Minnesota; France and the Czech Republic.