Bush Hog, Inc. is the leading North American manufacturer of rotary cutters, finishing mowers, landscape tools, and tractor-mounted implements used in the agricultural market. Located in Selma, Alabama for 65 years, Bush Hog’s products have earned an enviable reputation for their ruggedness and durability in the most challenging work environments. The “Bush Hog” brand is associated with rotary cutters and the act of cutting itself, having invented the brush mower over a half-century ago, and is often used as a generic term to describe a rotary cutter or the cutting of a field. Bush Hog’s rotary cutters and other product lines are assembled using both robotic and well-trained hand welders before being painted in a state-of-the-art powder coat paint system within the firm’s 500,000 square foot manufacturing facility. With an eye toward the future, the Company continues to invest in key projects that will further improve the efficiency of its operations. Bush Hog products are sold through a network of approximately 1,800 active dealers throughout North America supported by a team of nearly 50 sales representatives.
How it all started…
In 1951, a new device designed to clear pasture and crop residue was being demonstrated to a group of farmers near Selma, Alabama. Witnessing the ease at which the tractor-pulled implement devoured heavy brush, an elderly gentleman wearing worn overalls stepped forward and observed, “That thing eats bushes like a hog!” And the name that became synonymous with rotary cutters in North America was born.
The first Bush Hog was the Model 12, a five-foot wide rotary cutter that became the “bread and butter” of the Bush Hog Company. It was the first such device of its kind, featuring a three-point lift and a stump jumper, with swinging blades that would fold back if they hit rocks or other heavy objects. The Model 12 was originally handmade at the rate of one per week in a dirt-floor factory in Selma. It was built-to-last out of heavy gauge steel, cost $320, and revolutionized how farmers managed their fields.
What was life like before Bush Hog? Well, those who still remember will tell you that if you were trying to clear pasture land, you used hay cutting equipment and drove your tractor around the big bushes and came back later armed with axes and hoes (and hopefully a lot of able-bodied helpers). Clearing a cornfield required a different strategy. Back then, most farmers hired 30 or 40 day laborers, supplied them with hoes, and worked from dawn to dusk until the job was done, which could take days or even weeks, depending on the size of the field.
“I grew up driving a tractor, helping my father on our farm near Marion Junction, Alabama. In 1957, while working in Shipping at Bush Hog, I bought my father a Model 12. He couldn’t believe how smooth and clean it cut. Anything you could ride down with a tractor, it could handle. And you didn’t have to go around anything and come back to deal with it later. Well, needless to say he was pretty pleased. Over the years, we added to our collection and have five Bush Hogs around the farm that still work. They’re practically maintenance free!” — Tom Moore, 43-Year Bush Hog Employee
In the early years, Bush Hog knew it had a winning product in the Model 12 rotary cutter. But with limited resources, how do you sell it? Simple. You show farmers what it will do! So Earl Goodwin, Bush Hog’s first salesman, would slap a Model 12 on a trailer and tow it behind his car to demonstrate it around the country. People liked what they saw, orders came in, and word got around. When Bush Hog demonstrated at events that also featured competitor’s products, they arranged to go last. That way people could see firsthand that Bush Hog could gobble up what the others couldn’t handle. Today, Bush Hog products are marketed through 1,800 farm equipment dealers across North America.
Bush Hog began in a small, dirt-floor factory in Selma, Alabama. The first paint booth was a concrete pad with a hoist and a hook. They’d put the cutter on the hook and paint it by hand. The first loading dock was an angled pit dug out of the earth so trucks could back down it (although nobody thought about drainage, so it was frequently filled with rainwater). They made one product, the Model 12 rotary cutter, and equipment had to be moved around by tractor. Today, Bush Hog operates a modern, automated production facility with robotic welders that produce 17 different product lines. Bush Hog operates 42 semi-trucks and maintains five strategically located distribution centers across North America. And Bush Hog products mow more than 30,000,000 acres per year!
In 1976, Bush Hog decide to hold an “oldest cutter” contest. The winners were a couple from Bastrop, Louisiana who had an original Model 12 cutter they had bought in 1951, the first year the Model 12 went into production. The machine had given them 25 years of faithful, dependable service. Bush Hog bought the Model 12 from them and placed it on a pedestal in Bush hog’s Research and Development Department with a plaque that reads: “25 Years of Continuous Service.” It stands as a testimony to the durability that is designed and built into every Bush Hog product.
Bush Hog products are built-to-last and field-tested—literally! In the early years, Bush Hog’s Research and Development department consisted of an employee taking equipment to the family farm and trying his best to tear it up. This process was used to identify weak spots and areas that needed improvement or reinforcement. He’d bring the equipment back to the shop, the engineers would fix it up, and he’d take it back to the farm and try to bust it up some more. If Bush Hog couldn’t bust it, it was ready for production! It’s that kind of heritage that has led to Bush Hog’s reputation for reliability and performance customers can count on. In fact, many Bush Hog products in use today are more than 30 years old!