From the WorkSaver Editor's Desk
Remembering two industry legends
On July 11, 2010, the Bobcat family lost one of its longtime members with the death of Louis Keller. Louis was one of the inventors of the compact, three-wheeled machine that led to the first Bobcat-branded skid-steer loader. On September 4, 2010, former Melroe Manufacturing Company President Cliff Melroe passed away. Both men played an important role in the history of compact equipment and the success of Bobcat.
If you're operating a Bobcat compact loader today, be thankful for Louis Keller and his dedication to finding a better way to help a farmer do his job. And for the leadership that Cliff Melroe provided to the organization in its formative years in the skid-steer loader industry.
Louis and his brother Cyril helped launch the compact equipment industry. The brothers worked together in a blacksmith shop to help make common jobs easier for farmers and eventually set the course for how much of the compact equipment world operates today with the introduction of the first compact loader. In 2004, Louis and Cyril were among those honored as Bobcat received the ASAE "Historic Landmark" award — a recognition reserved only for the most important agricultural innovations in American history.
Bobcat pioneer Cliff Melroe, served as president of Melroe Manufacturing Company from 1955 to 1970. Cliff became president after his father, E.G. Melroe, died in 1955, and continued in that capacity until the company was sold to Clark Equipment Company.
Cliff, with his brothers, Les, Roger and Irving, and brother-in-law Gene Dahl, saw the potential of a little three-wheeled loader invented by Louis and Cyril Keller. In 1958 they brought it to market as the "Melroe self-propelled loader." Two years later a rear axle was added and the first true skid-steer loader — the M-400 — was introduced. Cliff, in particular, had the aptitude of an engineer, despite having no formal training, and played a key role in a total redesign leading to the first white, Bobcat-branded skid-steer loader in 1962, the M-440.