Clark wheeled dozer at Drax

A large Clark wheeled Dozer used at Drax power station on coal stockpile trimming duties and for feeding the conveyor loading system

Clark Equipment Company was a designer, manufacturer, and seller of industrial and construction machinery and equipment. They took over the Michigan Power Shovel Company in 1953, and created the Construction Machinery Division based at Benton Harbour, Michigan in the USA.


Clark's predecessor was the George R. Rich Manufacturing Company, founded in 1903 in Chicago, Illinois by executives of the Illinois Steel Company.

The company moved to Buchanan, Michigan in 1904 when that city's chamber of commerce advertised a financially sound deal with respect to industrial rent and power supply.

Eugene Clark, an Illinois Steel employee at the time, determined that the metallurgy of Rich Manufacturing's principal product, a railroad rail drill named the Celfor Drill, was faulty, and also found fault with both the management and basic operations, which he ultimately corrected after the condition of him becoming an equal partner was established.

In 1916 he merged Rich Manufacturing, which by then had been renamed Celfor Tool, and Buchanan Electric Steel Company, an offshoot of the former, and formed Clark Equipment Company, named after Mr. Clark.

From the 1920s until the 1960s, Clark made many acquisitions and continued to grow as a company, but in the 1960s and again in the 1980s, the acquisitions became unmanageable, and many were sold.

Also in 1969 Clark acquired the Melroe line of skid-steer loaders and agricultural products.

In 1985 a joint venture with Volvo of Sweden was formed, with Clarke-Michigan becoming part of VME Group. The Loaders line being merged into Volvo's Loader range with an L designation. By 1994 the Michigan name was dropped.

By the early 1990s, Melroe Company was a wholly owned subsidiary of Clark, selling skid-steel loaders under the Bobcat trademark and its agricultural sprayers under Spra-Coupe

Despite management's efforts to strengthen its core products, Clark's fork lift business was not performing up to expectation. Fork lift sales provided 44 percent of Clark's revenues but only 12 percent of its profits in 1990. Management dropped its prices to maintain its 20 percent U.S. market share in an industry that had overcapacity and faced increasing competition from other U.S. and Japanese companies. As sales and margins continued to fall, Clark sold its material handling subsidiary to Terex Corporation in 1992. The agreement reduced the company's overall annual sales but improved its profit margins. Terms of the sale provided Clark with an increase of cash and eliminated $30 million in liability claims against the subsidiary that Terex assumed.

In 1991, after restating for the sale of the fork lift business and excluding a $244.9 million non-cash charge for post-retirement benefits, Clark reported a nearly $93 million loss from its four remaining business segments: Melroe, Clark-Hurth Components, Clark Automotive, and VME, the company's 50 percent joint venture with AB Volvo. By the 1990s, Clark had internationally integrated each of the business segments. Clark Automotive's on-highway products were manufactured in Brazil and sold to the nation's automobile industry and the medium-duty truck industries in South and North America. Melroe's off-highway products were manufactured in the United States and through licensees in Australia and Japan and sold worldwide under the Melroe and Bobcat names. Clark Hurth products were manufactured in the United States, Europe, and through a licensee in South Africa and sold to construction, mining, and material handling equipment industries throughout the world.

Despite the continued soft world economies, Clark reported a net profit in 1992, due in large part from its $20.2 million profit from its non-joint venture concerns. VME improved its performance, but still reported a net loss due to continued restructuring costs and acquisitions. Melroe was responsible for 51 percent of Clark's total sales. Its market position remained strong, and its share of world skid-steer loaders was over 50 percent. Sales from Clark-Hurth accounted for 30 percent, and Clark Automotive accounted for 18 percent of Clark's total sales.

In 1995, Clark was acquired by Ingersoll Rand.[1]

In 1996, Ingersoll Rand donated two tons of Clark archives to the Berrien County Historical Association, and the Berrien County 1839 Courthouse Museum is now the Clark archives repository.[2]

Model RangeEdit

Wheeled Loaders

  • Michigan 75A - 1954
  • Michigan 125A - 1954
  • Michigan 175A - 1954
  • Michigan 275A - 1957
  • Michigan 375A - 1957
  • Michigan 475A - 1965 12 cu yd 635 hp
    • Michigan 475B
    • Michigan 475C - 19 ? - 1987
  • Michigan 675 - 1973-76 190 ton 1270 hp fron twin Cummins engines
  • Michigan/Volvo L480 - 1987

Wheeled Dozers

  • Michigan 280 - 1957, 262 hp
  • Michigan 380 - 1857, 31 ton, 375 hp
  • Michigan 480 - 1958, 52 ton, ? hp

UK PreservationEdit

Some of the smaller machines are in UK collections.

See alsoEdit


  1. "Purchase of Clark stock ends buyout", South Bend Tribune (1995-05-26). Retrieved on 2008-04-01. 
  2. "The Collections and Archives". The Berrien County Historical Association. Retrieved on 2008-04-01.

External linksEdit

  • Books about Buchanan (The Southwest Michigan Store / Great Lakes Antiques Mall, Coloma, Michigan) - Includes a listing of books about Clark Equipment Company.

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