Bobcat Company is a farm and construction equipment company established in the United States that is owned by the Doosan Group of South Korea. Its American headquarters, once in Gwinner, North Dakota, are now in West Fargo, North Dakota. In 2017, Bobcat relocated its European headquarters from Waterloo, Belgium, to Dob (near Prague), Czech Republic, where one of its European manufacturing factories is located. It was a subsidiary of Ingersoll Rand from 1995 until July 2007, when it was sold to Doosan Infracore for US$4.9 billion. Under the Bobcat brand, the firm sells skid steer loaders, compact excavators, side-by-sides, compact tractors, and other small hydraulic equipment. It's one of the state's few large manufacturing firms.
Keller Welding and Repair was founded by Louis and Cyril Keller in the 1950s near Rothsay, Minnesota. Eddie Velo, a local turkey farmer, reported a requirement for a machine small enough to travel within a pole barn and light enough to work on its top level to the Kellers in 1956. On February 4, 1957, the brothers brought to Velo a tiny three-wheeled design with a belt-driven transmission. Velo gave the Kellers complete access to his operations, and after learning of the belt-driven gearbox's flaws, they devised and patented a more durable clutch-based transmission system in 1958. The Melroe M60 loader was built on the new transmission.
The Kellers' uncle, an equipment dealer for the Gwinner, North Dakota-based Melroe Manufacturing Company, advised that Melroe promote the machines, which led to Melroe inviting the Kellers to exhibit at the 1958 Minnesota State Fair. Melroe produced the four-wheeled M400 model "Skid-Steer Loader" in 1960, and in 1962, the 440-model loader was the first to bear the "Bobcat" brand name. During a journey between Minneapolis and Gwinner, Les Melroe and advertising agent Lynn Bickett brainstormed names and came up with "Bobcat." The tagline "tough, swift, and agile" was created by Bickett and Sylvan Melroe to promote the early loaders.
Melroe Manufacturing Company was purchased by Clark Equipment Company in 1969, and Ingersoll-Rand purchased it in 1995. Ingersoll-Rand sold Clark Equipment Company, along with the rest of its construction equipment company, to the Doosan Group of South Korea for US$4.9 billion in 2007. Bobcat Company is the new name for the Clark Equipment Company. Bobcat Company has trademark registrations for the name "Bobcat" all around the world.
In his book Hidden Champions: Lessons From 500 of the World's Best Unknown Companies, Hermann Simon acknowledged the company as a role model for other small- to medium-sized enterprises in 2009.
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