A Living Legend, The History of The Bobcat Company
Bobcat is a global manufacturing company, but its roots are right here in North Dakota.
94-year-old Cyril Keller says he could have never imaged his innovative inventions would lead to thousands of jobs in the area, and the world.
In the first year, Keller and his brother barely made $400 for the year.
It was a leap of faith, but it’s a leap he is thankful for every day.
“You can’t go anywhere in the world without seeing a bobcat,” says Cyril Keller, Keller Loader Inventor.
At 94-years-old, Cyril Keller can still tell the stories like yesterday. When Keller and his brother, Louis took an idea and changed the farming manufacturing world forever.
Among the Keller brother’s different inventions, the Keller loader is one of the most well-known. Today we think of it as the Bobcat loader.
“The idea came from there; it had to neither one of us had engineering education,” says Keller.
In fact, both brothers didn’t even go to high school.
Immediately, following the 8th grade they began working on the farm.
“When we first started and we were trying to get Melroe to take it on my opinion was if they built 500 a year it would be well worth taking it on and today they’re building one every 12 minutes,” says Keller.
The company went from Keller Brothers, to Melroe, to eventually what has become known worldwide, the Bobcat.
“They looked up in the dictionary definition for bobcat and it said tough quick agile animal,” says Louis Keller’s son, Joe Keller.
Joe has spent the past few years trying to track down some of the original Keller Brother machinery.
“If you don’t remember where you came from you don’t really have a good reason to move forward,” says Keller.
But it’s not just Joe who is fascinated with his family’s history. Many people in the area have grown up with Bobcat and regard Cyril as a farming legend.
“The bobcat was there when your house was built, the bobcat was there when your sidewalk was built the bobcat was there when your street was built,” says Joe Keller.
And what better reason to celebrate such success with a little dance called the Bobcat Twist.
If you would like to check out more of the Bobcat history you can find the Keller loader collection at the Sargent County Museum.