THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. – The region’s agricultural machine history reads like a multi-season championship sports dynasty, with interlocking heroes taking the stage at different times – Melroe, Keller, Dahl, Steiger and Christianson.
The famous ag machinery families developed famous brands – Bobcat, Steiger, Concord and Amity. The brands would thrive on the go-go 1970s, survive the 1980s, and thrive again in the 1990s and beyond.
Agweek recently sat in on a conversation between Douglass “Doug” Steiger, 83, of Thief River Falls, Minn., and Howard Dahl, 67, of Fargo, N.D., whose families played key roles in the development of the machines.
Dahl is president and CEO of Amity Technology Inc. in Fargo. His maternal grandfather, E.G. Melroe, owned Melroe Manufacturing Co., which built the Bobcat skid-steer brand. Howard’s father, Eugene “Gene” Dahl, played pivotal roles in growing both brands and launching Steiger Tractor Co. into worldwide fame. Other branches of these roots have led to breakthrough products in air seeders, sugar beet harvesters and tillage equipment.
First ‘future’ In 1929, E.G. Melroe invented the windrow pickup on his farm. He sold early units to neighbors and patented it in 1940. As the fable goes, E.G. sold the patent to John Deere to pay medical bills after his leg was amputated. He built an improved windrow patent, which became the standard of the industry.