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AEM Names 2014 Hall Inductees
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) has announced the 2014
inductees to the AEM Hall of Fame, which
recognizes and celebrates outstanding individuals in the off-road equipment industry.
The 2014 inductees into the AEM Hall
of Fame are: E.G. Melroe and the Melroe
family, Melroe Manufacturing & Bobcat Co.;
Agustin ‘Gus’ Ramirez, Husco Intl.; Robert
J. Ratliff, AGCO Corp.; John D. West, The
Manitowoc Comp.; and Rollin Henry White,
Cleveland Tractor Co. (Cletrac).
The inductees are evaluated by an independent panel of industry experts on five
criteria: innovation, industry contributions,
leadership, corporate citizenship/social
responsibility and sustainability.
Patriarch E.G. Melroe designed and patented in 1940 a windrow pickup that lifted
windrowed grain into combines and invented other agricultural implements, but he is
best known for the development of the compact skid-steer loader. Despite performance
and durability issues, customer demand
kept the Melroes from halting production of
their first skid-steer loader, and the Bobcat
brand machine was introduced in 1962. The
four-wheel-drive skid-steer concept became
a model for other brands. In 2014, Bobcat
built its one millionth loader.
Inducted with E.G. Melroe are his sons
Les, Cliff, Roger and Irving; his nephew,
Sylvan; and his son-in-law, Eugene Dahl.
Under Ramirez’s tenure, Husco has
Known for his philanthropic efforts,
been granted 107 U.S. patents since he
took the helm in 1983. His technical vision
contributed to the wave of hydraulically
enabled technology that is being applied in
the mobile equipment markets. Perhaps his
most lasting legacy is advancing hydraulics
system research and development through
funding of the Husco Chair of Fluid Power
at Georgia State Tech, establishing hydrau-
lics as a key research priority at a major
engineering school. The foundation pro-
vides approximately 120 university scholar-
ships each year, many to minority students,
for pursuit of engineering degrees.
Ramirez serves as a director for numerous
organizations, including past chair of the
National Fluid Power Association.
Ratliff turned a struggling $200 million
farm equipment business into a major, global manufacturer of agricultural equipment.
Between 1990 and 2005, Ratliff brought
more than 20 agricultural machinery companies under the AGCO umbrella. The company, headquartered in Duluth, Ga., sells its
products in more than 140 countries.
Ratliff is a Life Honorary Director of the
AEM, and he fulfilled numerous leadership roles for the National Association of
Manufacturers (NAM). To advance education, the Robert J. Ratliff Baltimore
Polytechnic Institute Incentive Awards
Fund was established to fund annual student scholarships through the University of
Maryland Incentive Awards Program.
Under West, Manitowoc brought a num-
ber of innovations to the industry, and the
company was the first to use T- 1 high-
strength steel in booms, design a controlled
torque converter for various crane uses and
patent the Ringer concept, which doubled
crane capacity. He foresaw market global-
ization and expanded the company overseas
— today more than half of corporate revenue
comes from non-U.S. markets — enabling
Manitowoc to expand into a multibrand
operation and diversify offerings. Efficiency
and sustainability became key priorities for
Manitowoc during West’s time at the helm.
He led a push to conserve water, lessen pol-
lution, improve air quality and cut production
overruns that led to material waste.
Although White’s inventions in crawler trac-
tor design date back to the beginning of the
20th century, his contributions are still widely
used by manufacturers today. Of White’s 100
patents, his invention of controlled differential
steering was the most significant, making trac-
tors stronger, safer and more maneuverable.
This invention was adopted by the U.S. Army
for use in all its tanks during World War II.
White established the Cleveland Tractor
Co. (Cletrac) in 1916, which grew to become
one of the largest crawler tractor manufac-
turers in the 1920s and 30s. The company
led the industry in number of new products
and sales volume during much of this time.
Cletrac and its successor, the Oliver Corp.,
manufactured crawler tractors until 1965.
Concepts developed by White are still in
use, such as controlled differential steering,
high-speed rubber tracks, continuous under-
carriage lubrication and streamlined crawler
tractor styling. Under White, Cletrac was
one of the first U.S. tractor manufacturers to
market overseas (during the 1920s).