American Made for a Century
August 16, 2016
As Gravely celebrates 100 years of producing quality, commercial-grade machines, we also celebrate a full century of American made products.
From the time Benjamin Gravely began sketching on floors and building in his friends’ garages to today, Gravely machines have been manufactured in America (other than a two-year manufacturing run in England post-WWII).
Gravely began his first production facilities in Dunbar, West Virginia, and the company remained there until 1968, when it needed to expand and moved to Clemens, North Carolina. While Benjamin Gravely was certainly the brain behind the Gravely Motor Plow and Cultivator Company – a company incorporated in 1922 for $200,000 – he didn’t own it for long.
In 1937, D. Ray Hall acquired enough stock to have controlling interest and became president. He ran the company, which became known as Gravely Tractor Inc. in 1953, until 1960, when it was sold to Studebaker Packard Corporation of South Bend, Indiana, for $12.6 million. Studebaker continued to run Gravely even after it ceased automobile manufacturing in 1964-65 and changed the business’ name to Gravely Corporation in 1968.
Then in the early ’80s, Studebaker tasked Gravely’s president, Pete Janske, with finding a new owner. A group of Gravely management, including Janske, attempted to pool their resources to buy the brand, but the effort fell through as they couldn’t raise enough capital. Janske, who had been raised in Brillion, Wisconsin, had an idea: Ariens Co.
The path to purchase took months, and Ariens Co. purchased Gravely in 1982. For a decade, the two brands manufactured in separate states, but today, both brands are manufactured in Brillion, a town of just over 3,000 people in east-central Wisconsin. Throughout all of the changes in branding and leadership, Gravely is still proud to boast that it has been American made for a century.