The Origin of the Skid Loader
If there is any machine that could be called synonymous with modern landscaping it’s the skid loader (aka the skid-steer loader).
These wonderful machines are small, powerful, lifters and diggers that turn on a dime and increase landscapers’ abilities to get work done in a quick and efficient manner that saves both customers and themselves time and money.
The skid loader has its origins in the mid-20th century in rural Minnesota. At the time, turkey farming was an important industry to the area in NW Minnesota where brothers Cyril and Louis Keller lived.
One of the challenges of raising turkeys was keeping clean the barns that they were raised in. Removing manure from the barns was an unpleasant and labor-intensive tasks that had to be largely done by hand.
Turkey farmer Eddie Velo knew there was a need for a more efficient way to do this unpleasant work and talked to the Keller Bros.
They accepted the challenges and designed a small tractor with wheels that could turn in opposite directions. This allowed farmers to bring an agile tractor into places they couldn’t before and thus save on the cost of labor for a very unpleasant task in their industry.
The machine caught on in popularity, and the Keller’s sold their invention to Melroe Manufacturing Company who also ended up hiring them. They continued to improve the skid-steer loader, and in 1960 the first “Bobcat” skid steer was born. Melroe Company became Bobcat Company and the rest is history.
So next time you see a skid-loader, you can think of the Keller brothers and the historical economic situation that led to the revolution of small-scale construction and landscaping that we see today.