In the Depression years of the 1930's, Raymond Von Ruden decided to find a better and more productive solution to the tedious and back-breaking job of cutting trees down. With a combination of ingenuity and imagination, he devised a way of transferring power and motion from a farm tractor to a standard logging saw. The idea worked so well that its demand prompted the beginning of Von Ruden Manufacturing Company in a small building constructed from home-sawed lumber. As the demand for his product increased, that humble beginning on the family farm gave way to the erection of a factory in Claremont, Minnesota.
The period following World War Il witnessed the introduction of the chain saw in this country after its original development in Europe. Without the availability of small and lightweight gasoline engines, Mr. Von Ruden was quick to realize the vast potential of hydraulics and how the concept could be harnessed for small, powered tools. In the late 1940s he pioneered a line of hydraulically powered chain saws . . . a revolutionary idea that further mechanized the timber harvesting process.
But Raymond Von Ruden wasn't through yet... He also realized there were all sorts of other tools that could be designed to operate off his hydraulic pumps and motors . . . and allow people to do even a greater number of jobs faster and with less manpower. Hydraulically powered earth drills, pumps and winches were added as time progressed. Today's modern hydraulic tools reflect the continual development and refinement of his original idea.
The early 1950's found the Claremont facility expanding to manufacture gear boxes. An ever-increasing number of hydraulic motors and pumps were also added to meet the explosive demands of an emerging revolution in product design: the acceptance of mobile hydraulic components for agricultural and construction equipment.
In 1955, Mr. Von Ruden sold his interest in Von Ruden Manufacturing Company and moved to the nearby city of Owatonna to establish a new business. That company, which he named General Equipment, began its operation with an already-established reputation for product innovation and problem solving.
Raymond Von Ruden's background in gear design technology and his instinct for design innovation led to the development of the first practical gasoline-powered auger. This unique product became remarkably successful and helped to catapult the sport of ice fishing into the multi-million dollar sport it is today. In the late 1950's the same technology that mechanized drilling through ice was applied to earth. With hard work and determination, the idea caught on . . . and what began as a small machine for drilling post holes on the farm has since evolved to become the widest and most respected line of portable earth drilling equipment in the world.
In the 1970's, General Equipment Company began an aggressive product diversification program to meet the growing challenges of the light construction equipment industry. In each case, the basis for our founding success . . . identifying a specific problem, fabricating prototypes in response, and then further refining them until the finished product met the stated objectives . . . has seen the addition of a number of successful product lines:
Portable air ventilation blowers that increase jobsite safety and productivity
Rotary asphalt cutting attachments that dramatically reduce road maintenance costs
Concrete related equipment to meet road and building repair challenges of the 1990's and beyond.
Today, a second generation of family is charged with the responsibility of preserving the principles and concepts which helped form the company over three decades ago. We've pledged to never lose sight of the ideals that guided Raymond Von Ruden in his original, dimly lit factory . . . use sound engineering principles along with good, common sense to find solutions to people's problems.
That home-sawed building has long since been torn down. The original shop has evolved into a modern factory. The small drill press and bench lathe have been replaced with ultra precision CNC machines. Simple ledger books have given way to sophisticated computer systems. As General Equipment grew and prospered, changes necessary to insure the company's success and position in the light construction equipment industry were made. We undergo a continual upgrading of facilities and processes in response to the challenges placed before us by an ever-changing marketplace.
Decisions are no longer made with just regional or national considerations. We are no longer sheltered by oceans. Our products compete openly in a world market. Our company continues to build its reputation on a global basis by never losing sight of those basic concepts that have been the foundation of our success. The demands of a world market have challenged us to continue with the same tradition and commitment originally made almost 50 years ago, on a small family farm in Southern Minnesota.