McCormick’s history starts with a man named Cyrus McCormick with the invention of the successful agricultural reaper in 1831. His innovation, leadership and smart business sense ultimately helped agriculture’s earliest manufacturing pioneers create International Harvester – one of America’s most renowned agricultural companies.
During the course of his lifetime, he not only helped revived American agriculture, he helped redefine the way manufacturing was viewed in farming.
A Historical Timeline
1831 - 1834
At age 22, Cyrus takes over the design of his father’s unsuccessful reaper. In a six-week period he redesigned, built, tested and remodeled his design at Walnut Grove. The reaper was successfully demonstrated on a neighbor’s farm at Steeles Tavern in late July. Cyrus carried out several changes to the design before patenting the machine in 1834. Demand for his reaper rises with local farmers in Walnut Grove.
1847 - 1884
Demand for the McCormick reaper became greater than the Walnut Grove smithy could produce. Cyrus formed a partnership with C.M. Gray to purchase lots on the north bank of the Chicago River and a factory was constructed. They were on track to produce 500 reapers for the 1848 harvest. McCormick offers farmers a “full refund guarantee” if not satisfied, making him one of the most innovative marketers in the industry. This factory later became the corporate headquarters for International Harvester on Michigan Avenue. By 1849, Cyrus’s Chicago plant employed over 123 people and the McCormick reaper also wins the Grand council Medal at The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace, London. Over the next several years, McCormick’s Reaper won first awards at the Hamburg, Vienna and Paris Expositions.
1871 - 1884
A huge Chicago fire destroys the McCormick Reaper factory; however, the company’s safe was retrieved with all records intact. After insurance settlements the fire cost Cyrus a personal loss of $600,000. A new factory which was completed in February 1873. Even though the loss was devestating to Cyrus, the company rebounded very quickly in time to win the first prize from the Prestigious Agrcultural Society in Derby, England. Finally on May 13, 1884, after serving his company and community for over 75 years, Cyrus Hall McCormick dies. Cyrus is survived by his wife, Nettie Fowler and his brother Leander, who joined him in partnership in 1856. In the year of Cyrus McCormick’s death his company, The McCormick Harvesting Machine Company sold 54,841 machines and introduced the McCormick steel twine binder.
1902 - 1936
On August 12, 1902, International Harvester Company was formed by Cyrus McCormick, Jr. and several leading equipment manufacturers including Champion, Deering, Milwaukee and Plano. The new company had a 95% market share in harvesting implements. International Harvester enters the tractor manufacturing and shipping market, shipping 14 tractors across the country. Within two years, the company is shipping several hundred tractors. In 1919, the McCormick Farmall tractor is born. The Farmall is still considered to be the tractor that industrialized the United States, starting in 1922. Farmall tractors are painted red for safety reasons, replacing their familiar gray color. This marks the beginning of “Big Red”.
1940 - 1946
Because of the outbreak of war, the factory is requisitioned by ministry of supply to assist war effort. 1945 was the only year in its 60 year history of tractor production that no tractors were produced. By 1946, the Doncaster factory site is returned to IHGG and they begun production again.
1949 - 1954
Farmall is purchased by Mr. Arthur Neale who has been the managing director of IHGB from over 25 years. The first McCormick Farmall tractor was assembled on September 13, 1949. By 1952, decisions were made that IHGB should enter the construction equipment market. They started by building the BTD-6 crawler. When production ceased in 1975, 22,300 of these units had been built. As the mechanization of world agriculture expands, there was a need to produce a new small tractor and begun production of the McCormick International B 250 tractor, rated at 30hp. This was Britain’s first tractor incorporating disc brakes and differential locking.
1968 - 1999
Between 1968 and 1999, IHGB launches a variety of McCormick tractor series making the McCormick name synonymous with innovation. Between this time the International Harvester Farm equipment division was purchased by J.I. Case Company and all the products were rebranded as Case International. After having a successful run in introducing new and innovative McCormick tractors, the company is eventually purchased by Argo S.p.a, making the Doncaster plant the global headquarters for the McCormick Tractors. Under the Argo name the other sister companies were Landini, Laverda, Valpadana and Pegoraro.
2001 - Present
In 2001, McCormick Tractors saw a return to America in the creation of McCormick International USA and the first US McCormick tractor was introduced at Pella, Iowa. By 2006, Argo merges McCormick USA with Landini to create one company with two very successful brands and moved the company to Norcross, Georgia. By this time, McCormick products are being distributed in over 55 countries. In 2008 McCormick introduces the latest versions of the CX, MC and MC Power6 models. In order to find more room for assembly and for growth, McCormick relocates three miles north to Duluth, GA. The new 120,000 square foot facility is over 2.5 times larger than the previous Norcross, GA building. As part of the expansion, the company consolidated the Kiel, Wisconsin and Baltimore, Maryland operations into the new facility to handle light assembly of tractors.