Manitou Americas Celebrates 40 Years of Gehl Brand Skid Loader Design and Manufacturing
- Gehl brand skid loaders were first manufactured in July 1973 in Madison, South Dakota
- The Gehl brand skid loaders line currently includes three vertical lift models, including the
world’s largest skid loader, and seven radial lift models
WEST BEND, WISCONSIN - (September 9, 2013) In 1973, Gehl Company (today Manitou
Americas, Inc.), a leading manufacturer of compact earthmoving and material handling
equipment, began designing and manufacturing its own line of skid loaders. Working side by
side with our customers, the line has constantly evolved over the last 40 years. Today, a
complete line of seven radial and three vertical lift models, including the V400, the world’s
largest skid loader, are offered under the Gehl brand name.
“The Gehl brand is dedicated to its roots of designing and producing durable, easy-to-use skid
loaders,” said Dan Miller, CEO of Manitou Americas and President of the Manitou Group CECompact
Equipment Division. “Our task for the future is incorporating innovation and
technology into our loaders, yet still maintaining the ease of use our customers have come to
To carry the success of the skid loader line into the future, Manitou Americas, Inc. continues
the tradition of developing equipment to match the demands of our core customers in
agriculture, construction and rental applications. The investment in a state-of-the-art
Research and Design facility in West Bend, Wisconsin in 2009 paved the way for future
innovation and durability testing.
“Look for Gehl branded skid loaders to deliver new customer focused models without
abandoning our heritage,” said Brian Rabe, Manager of Product Development. “This measured
approach has worked for Gehl skid loaders for 40 years, and for the Gehl brand for over 150
years. You can’t argue with history.”
By leveraging its long history in the skid loader market with the addition of innovative,
exclusive features – like the original hands-only control system, the T-Bar; the Powerview® lift
arm; and the adjustable, side-anchored operator restraint bar – Manitou Americas looks to
entice new skid loader users while maintaining its core customer base.
With the rich heritage the Gehl brand enjoys in the agriculture and rental markets, Manitou
Americas, Inc. is dedicated to manufacturing equipment with the right mix of technology and
simplicity, ensuring reliability and easy maintenance and service.
Based on the company’s long history and heritage in the agricultural implements business, the
customer base in the early 1970’s was primarily agricultural. The company recognized a
demand for a compact loader among its customers, and struck a deal with the Ericsson
Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota to manufacture the first Gehl branded skid loader.
“In reality, Gehl marketed its first skid loader in 1969,” says Kelly Moore, Product & Training
Specialist, Skid Loaders – Manitou Americas. Moore has worked closely with the Gehl brand
skid loader product line since 1978. “This unit was a private labeled product known as the
3030 and it was the beginning of great things to follow in the skid loader industry.”
Gehl Company quickly realized that to control their skid loader product offering, they needed
to manufacture and design their own line. In July 1973, the first Gehl brand skid loader was
manufactured in Madison, South Dakota. Forty years later, Gehl brand skid loaders are still
manufactured in Madison.
Over the next 15 years, the Gehl branded skid loader product line brought many industry
“firsts” for the skid loader market. Performance features such as liquid-cooled engines,
hydrostatic transmissions and diesel-powered machines hit the market in the early 1970’s.
In the late 70’s, and early 80’s Gehl brand skid loaders featured a roll-back ROPS and
hydraulic solenoid lift arm lockouts for easier maintenance. In 1982, Gehl Company
revolutionized the skid loader business with the 4610, a 44-horsepower unit that featured the
operator restraint bar for more comfort and added protection.
In the mid-1980’s the model 4615 was added, specifically designed for the construction
market. The models 6620 and 6625 entered the Gehl brand into the largest skid loader class.
By 1995, the Gehl brand offered a full line of eight models serving the agricultural and
Many of the historic late 70’s and 80’s machines are still in regular use today; a perfect
example of the deep dedication to the design and manufacture of dependable, long-lasting
Throughout the years, the dedication to the skid loader product offering never changed.
Product updates included more powerful engines, higher lift heights and compact dimensions.
The Gehl brand skid loader has consistently evolved, answering customer demands for a
reliable and adaptable machine.