Tough times never last, but tough companies do. That’s evident from the challenges The Toro Company faced in the very beginning – and throughout its history. In Toro’s first 30 years, the company’s leaders navigated through the Great Depression and two world wars by staying true to the company’s core principles and values. A constant focus has driven the company’s longevity ever since. Here are some of the strategies and principles that have contributed to Toro’s success over its first 100 years:

 

Intense focus on solving customer problems, first and foremost.

Hard-sell tactics have never been part of Toro’s culture; it has always been about finding out what the customer needs, meeting those needs and providing exemplary service. In fact, Toro got its start in the turf care industry by listening and solving problems. Our first two mowing products (a fairway roller in 1918 and a fairway mower in 1919) came about as requests from golf clubs in Minneapolis. The staff at each club collaborated with Toro on a number of early products, offering input and helping to test equipment.

Other early products were also designed to help commercial customers save time and labor, from agricultural fields to sports fields, schools and beyond. Our first power mower, the 30” Park Special walk-behind reel mower introduced in 1924, was the most successful early large commercial-grade walk mower. It was known as America’s favorite heavy-duty and was sold for three decades. In 1928, we introduced the Silver Flash push reel mower, which became a mainstay with cities and parks for many years.

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Taking care of the customer after the sale.

John Samuel Clapper, the company’s co-founder and first president, thought that any manufacturer of a complicated piece of machinery should care more about that product after the sale than before. For the last century, Toro has done that in three key ways:

  • Standing behind the product.

In 1926, Toro became the first in the industry to appoint a field service representative. Mungo Reid “Scotty” McLaren, was charged with traveling the country to visit customers with Toro equipment. At each stop, he inspected the equipment with the crew, helped them fix any problems and provided much-appreciated training.

  • Standing behind our distributor partners.

Scotty McLaren not only supported our customers, but he also visited all of our distributors and trained them. To this day, we stand behind all of our distributors with ongoing training, exceptional parts fill rates, sales and technical support, warranty coverage, and many other tools to help them provide the level of service our customers have come to know and trust.

As a loyal Toro customer in Boone, North Carolina, stated, “It’s truly a blessing to have dependable equipment in combination with exemplary service.”

  •  Staying close to what’s important to the customer.

Toro’s third president, Ken Goit, once said, “The success of this company is no secret. It has been due to two simple things: building a good product and treating customers honestly and fairly.” This fundamental approach has played a significant role in helping Toro achieve its100th anniversary, and provides the foundation for continued success into the company’s next century.

Every new product, feature and improvement we develop is driven by the need to make life easier and more productive for the people we serve. That attitude is reflected in comments from a customer in Warren, Pennsylvania: “It is obvious that Toro has listened to customer wishes and needs, and delivered us into a new era of precision mowing with ‘all the fixins’!”

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Providing exemplary expertise in sales and service, and unparalleled local support.

Another loyal customer in Mendham, New Jersey states that, “The expert sales staff at my Toro distributor gives me product support whenever I need it. That’s why I love my Toro!”

The importance of local support permeates the fabric of The Toro Company, and can be traced back to Clapper’s foresight and belief that Toro should have a network of distributors to provide the local, expert service professional customers need. The company set up its first distributor in 1922 and had 17 distributors by the end of 1925 — providing a competitive service advantage across the country. To this day, our distributor network, continues to play a vital role in our commercial business, delivering local support our customers depend on. One of these distributorships is in its fourth generation with Toro.

 

Taking care of your employees.

Toro’s focus on taking care of customers extends to their long history of taking care of employees. As Ken Melrose, Toro’s eighth president, said, “We believe the single most important factor that influences our success as a company is the Toro employee.”

Several of Toro’s presidents were known for walking the plant to talk with workers regularly. They knew their employees’ names and their families. An interesting example of how Toro stood out in support of employees was that during the Great Depression, while many companies simply let go of employees, The Toro Company opted to cut back hours instead of jobs to keep people earning paychecks. Even in those early years, company leaders knew and acted upon the belief that people were our greatest asset.

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Thanks to our customers for putting their trust in Toro!

Any company that lasts for a century must inevitably endure challenges, turning points and difficult economic times and learn from those experiences. The Toro Company has been able to overcome these trials and tribulations to achieve lasting success by focusing on, and not losing sight of, our core people and performance values and the true needs of our customers.

As we celebrate our centennial, we’re not only looking back but also forward at new ways to take care of our customers in the years to come. That means both our valued channel partners as well as end-user customers. For us, it’s not just what we do, but how we do it that counts. At the end of the day, it is our foundational values that extend from Toro through our distributor partners that have helped our company weather the test of time. And of course, it is only proper that we conclude by expressing our sincere thanks to all of our end-user customers for putting their trust in Toro.

For an interactive timeline of Toro’s historic milestones, visit toro.com/100. You can also share your Toro stories online here.

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