West Bend, Wis.-based Gehl Co. will celebrate its 150th Anniversary in 2009. The Gehl history began in 1859 in a blacksmith shop in a small Wisconsin community located at the westerly bend of the Milwaukee River. Since then, Gehl has been led by three generations of Gehl family members and still operates in the same Midwestern town where it began 150 years ago.
Beginning with the development of agricultural implements for small farms, a best seller was created in 1880 called the Hexelbank Ensilage Cutter, a predecessor to the modern forage harvester. John Gehl acquired the business in 1902, becoming the first Gehl family member to lead the implement company. A second generation of Gehl brothers took control of the business in the 1930s. In the 1940s the Gehl brothers developed innovative new agricultural products, including field forage harvesters, self-propelled forage harvesters, multiple-row crop attachments and portable feedmakers.
In 1973 Gehl began manufacturing skid loaders for agricultural customers, necessitating a second manufacturing plant, in Madison, S.D. The popularity of these machines grew quickly into the expanding construction markets, as well as the European market. In 1987 Gehl began manufacturing the Dynalift telescopic handler in Yankton, S.D.
A third-generation Gehl, William Gehl, began managing the company in 1992. Under his leadership the company diversified into multiple markets world-wide, including the acquisition of Mustang Manufacturing in 1997.
“Despite changes in technology and an ever-expanding product line, Gehl has remained true to its reputation for ingenuity, innovation and reliability,” said William Gehl, CEO and board chairman.
Gehl manufactures and distributes telescopic handlers, skid loaders, track loaders, compact excavators, all-wheel-steer loaders, articulated loaders and asphalt pavers. The company recently opened its new research and development center in West Bend, next to where the business began 150 years ago.
The new research and development center includes the latest technology to develop innovative compact equipment. The center includes a certified sound chamber, which allows developmental sound-level testing, as well as certification and audit testing to the various worldwide standards. Other test cells are available to allow 24-hour operation of equipment for performance and durability evaluations.
To commemorate its 150-year milestone, Gehl published an illustrated hard cover book that details the events of the company’s evolution. Copies can be ordered on the Gehl website, www.gehl.com, on the “Gehl Gear” page.