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Celebrating 50 years at National Farm Machinery Show
In addition to celebrating the milestone anniversary, Grasshopper is also commemorating its distinction as the first zero-turn mower ever to be displayed at the world's largest indoor agricultural exhibition.
50 Years at National Farm Machinery Show
Moridge Manufacturing, the parent company of Grasshopper, has attended the National Farm Machinery Show every year since the show's official inception in 1966. Moridge is one of just 13 "charter-member" exhibitors at NFMS; by comparison, the 2015 show includes more than 860 exhibitors. The company still occupies its original 1966 space in the West Wing of the Kentucky Exposition Center at Booth 5058.
In 1966, Moridge was already an established name in the farm equipment industry. Company founder Elbert Guyer had been a custom harvester, traveling the U.S. and Canada, harvesting and drying grains in the field with a portable recirculating grain dryer of his own design.
Farmers were amazed that wet grain could be harvested and dried in the field, and began requesting grain dryers of their own. Guyer's entrepreneurial spirit recognized the opportunity. He founded Moridge in 1958 and began full-scale production and distribution of Moridge grain dryers across the U.S. and around the world.
By the time of the first National Farm Machinery Show, other Moridge products included springtooth harrows, grain augers, soybean roasters and automatic tube feeders.
The Birth of the Grasshopper Zero-Turn Mower
In the 1960s, the zero-turn mower concept was born on the plains of Kansas, and in 1969, a key transaxle patent provided the technology to produce the first true zero-turn mower: The Grasshopper. Thus, the Grasshopper division of Moridge was born. That year, the first Grasshopper mowers were produced and introduced to the U.S. market.
Grasshopper mowers were (and still are) built at one of the finest facilities in Kansas. The continuous production of grain dryers and other Moridge products sustained the newly founded company as the mower evolved.
Company engineers led by Stan Guyer (Elbert's son and current company president) and Merlin Esau began refining the mower, and they soon found themselves dedicated to continual product innovation in order to meet the ongoing needs of customers worldwide.
No off-the-shelf components were available for developing those first Grasshopper mowers, so a commitment to the latest technologies such as powder paint and robotics (welders, brake presses, lasers, etc.) were essential. The integration of emerging technologies has been instrumental to the precision manufacturing required to improve product performance, quality and durability.
That spirit of innovation and dedication to technological advancement continues today, and Grasshopper was named 2014 Company of the Year by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Chapter 52, in Wichita, Kan., from among local aerospace, agriculture, commodities and power equipment manufacturers.
As such, Grasshopper remains an industry-leading manufacturer of commercial and residential zero-turn mowers.
Posted on:Feb 11, 2015