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Tama Co. Economic Development By Heath Kellogg

November 1, 2018
Northern-Sun Print
It was her first ever blind date, and with a quick spray of perfume, checking herself out one more time in the mirror, Beth headed outside to wait for her date. Twenty minutes into the date and Beth was discreetly checking her watch. After ten more long minutes her phone finally buzzed. Beth listened for a few seconds, grimly pursed her lips, and turned to her date, “I feel terrible, but my Grandmother is terribly sick, and I must go home now.” “No problem!” said her date with a big grin, “in five more minutes my dog was going to get run over!” The ability to move on from disappointment with resilience is an important character trait when building a business. One great example is that of the Keller brothers: In the fall of 1947 a small business, Keller Manufacturing, was opened in Rothsay MN. Louis Keller was the sole owner/operator until 1953 when his brother Cyril joined him as an equal partner. At that time Keller Manufacturing was a general repair and fabrication business. During the time between 1947 and 1953 through trial and error, an amazing product developed in the business — the first single stage ribbon auger snow-blower. They began selling snow-blowers from small walk behind models to large truck mounted models. Then the unthinkable happened —a miscommunication between Louis and Farmhand, the company that had agreed to mass-produce the snow-blowers, the patent application was filed too late and a patent was not issued for the ribbon auger. Farmhand did manufacture several blowers on a royalty basis for a couple years but then chose to stop production. At the time this seemed like a devastating loss but if the blower development had gone full scale, the Keller’s would not have developed their second big innovation. One of Keller’s frequent fabrication customers, Eddie Velo, came to Louis and Cyril with a problem in the summer of 1956. Eddie was one of the pioneers in the turkey industry and was transitioning from small flocks to large production utilizing large two story barns. The problem was that it was difficult to get the manure out of second story. Standard loader tractors couldn’t be used because of their limited maneuverability, plus they were too heavy to operate on the second story. The Keller’s put the ribbon auger patent mistake behind them to work together and build something that made Velo’s job easier. In the end they invented the first three-wheeled, front-end loader. The light and compact machine, with its rear caster wheel, was able to turn around within its own length, while performing the same tasks as the conventional larger front-end loader. The Melroe brothers, of Melroe Manufacturing Company in Gwinner, N.D., purchased the rights to the Keller loader in 1958 and hired the Kellers to continue refining their invention. As a result of this partnership, the M-200 Melroe self-propelled loader was introduced at the end of 1958. So today every time you see a Bobcat skid loader (yes that is what became of what the Keller Brothers invented) you will be reminded of the resilience needed to bounce back from disappointment. Resilience is a key to growing our economy.



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