There must have been something in the water (or the grass) in the Twin Cities 100 years ago for the Cities to spawn two major players in the turf industry, The Toro Company of Minneapolis and National Mower Company/Turfco of St. Paul (see Turfco 100).
Toro was actually founded in 1914 but spent the first five years of its existence manufacturing engines for the Bull Tractor Company and other tractor and truck companies, and developing the first Toro-designed piece of farm equipment – the power cultivator – before shifting focus to mowing products.
In 1919, Toro developed the industry’s first motorized fairway mower, the Toro Standard Golf Machine, for The Minikahda Club, in Minneapolis. By mounting five individual reel mowers onto the front of a farm tractor, Toro helped courses increase productivity by replacing the labor- and time-intensive use of horse-drawn equipment. The Minikahda Club is now looked after by long-time TurfNet member Jeff Johnson and his staff.
A few historic examples of Toro innovations for the golf course industry include the first flexible frame fairway mower in 1921, the first golf utility vehicle — the Toro Knockabout — in 1930, new valve-in-head sprinklers in 1964, the Toro Sand Pro series in 1972, the first contour-following Flex Head greensmowers in 1986, and the first lithium-ion powered greensmower — the Greensmaster eFlex — in 2012.
Toro credits their longevity in the industry to four key factors – listening closely to its customers, developing innovative products based on feedback and available technology, long-standing customer relationships, and establishing close cooperative ties with their distribution network to deliver excellent local service and support.