In 1958, Melroe Manufacturing Company, based in North Dakota, USA, purchased the rights to the three-wheeled Keller Loader. Melroe developed the design and in 1960 launched the M400 model, which, with its four-wheel-drive, was the world’s first true skid-steer loader and provided the cornerstone from which the global compact equipment industry was to emerge.
In 1962, Melroe introduced the M440, an improved version of the M400. A Melroe associate suggested that the loader be called a ‘Bobcat’ in honour of the prairie animal which is ‘tough, quick and agile’ (able to turn 180°at full speed), and thus the Bobcat brand was born.
Melroe replaced the M440 with the Bobcat M444 skid-steer loader in 1963 and, in the same year, the first M444 loaders arrived in the European market.
Fast forward six decades and well over a million loaders later. Bobcat products have changed the way the world works and the Bobcat brand – and its fabulous success story – is a worldwide icon.
Today the Bobcat product family includes not only skid-steer loaders but also compact tracked loaders, compact excavators, telehandlers, backhoe loaders and an ever growing range of attachments for all of these machines.
The diversification of the product range has happened progressively and the company’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) have played a key role in the transformation of Bobcat from a producer of skid-steer loaders only, into the world’s leading compact equipment manufacturer.
In the EMEA region, the company’s passion and customer commitment has been reinvigorated by the development of a fully integrated structure based in Europe capable of defining, designing and manufacturing machines, products and services to meet the specific needs of local markets in EMEA.
In 2007, this culminated in the opening of the first new Bobcat manufacturing plant outside the USA in the heart of the EMEA region at Dobris, south of Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. Together with the existing telehandler plant at Pontchâteau in the Loire-Atlantique region in north-west France, the Dobris facilities form part of a prominent design, procurement and manufacturing footprint in Europe for Bobcat, which the company uses to produce over 80% of the products it markets and sells in the EMEA region.
See how the company grew, how product lines came and went, and the results of three ownership changes. Watch film clips that show how the products were marketed.
Follow the development of the three major product groups: skid-steer loaders, compact track loaders and compact excavators. Timelines cover major model launches and the innovations tied to each.