B.F. Avery history and toy story
May 24, 2010
Minneapolis-Moline (M-M), through very shrewd business practices, became a major player in farm machinery manufacturing during the 1940s and into the 1950s. Then president, Warren MacFarlane, described the company as "either the smallest of the large farm machinery firms or the largest of the small ones."
With Avery experiencing difficult times, an agreement was reached on January 8, 1951, to merge the company into Minneapolis-Moline. The Avery production facilities in Louisville along with a dealer organization throughout the south were considered a boon for M-M.
Within 30 days the positive attributes of the signed agreement completing the merger soured. The U.S. Government announced restrictions for raw materials needed in manufacturing due to the heightening demands for military equipment needed for the Korean War. Subsequently, the newly merged company made drastic reductions in their equipment line. In addition, the Louisville production facility was converted into military munitions capabilities as the result of a large government contract.
In the mid 1950s farm equipment sales had slowed once again. Additionally, the government contract at the Louisville facility was in its final stages. The number of employees had been reduced dramatically. The facility was showing considerable losses. And with infighting at M-M, the decision was reached to close the former Avery production plant in 1955. The company infighting was between then President MacFarlane and a rival group of stockholders known as the Riddig Group. The rival group eventually gained control of M-M.
As you read the annals of farm machinery manufacturing, there are differing views on the demise of B.F. Avery & Sons and their acquisition by Minneapolis-Moline. Was it Avery’s yearning to enter motorized farming when their implement production had flourished? Was it the dramatic change in management style, including sales and marketing by M-M? Or was it a natural evolution of larger companies squeezing out the smaller firms?
The dynamics of farm manufacturing continues to evolve. In the end, only time will tell if the American farmer has benefited. Farm families plow on with an optimistic heart, even during challenging times and unsolicited evolutions.