Advertise in Print | Subscriptions
Published September 15, 2008, 12:00 AM

Titan, CNH mark Steiger’s 50th year

FARGO, N.D. — Titan Machinery Inc. of Fargo hosted a large event Sept. 9 at the CNH Inc. factory in Fargo, N.D., to commemorate 50 years of Steiger tractors.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

FARGO, N.D. — Titan Machinery Inc. of Fargo hosted a large event Sept. 9 at the CNH Inc. factory in Fargo, N.D., to commemorate 50 years of Steiger tractors.

Hundreds of people attended an event, headlined by Ag Secretary Ed Schafer, tractor pioneer Doug Steiger and Randy W. Baker, president of Case IH Agricultural Business, as well as?North Dakota Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple and officials of Titan, the nation’s largest dealer network for the brand.

Steiger, whose early versions were an invention of farmers in the Thief River Falls, Minn., area in 1957 and 1958, were brought into commercial production in 1963.

Peter Christianson, president and chief financial officer, and David Meyer, chief executive officer for Titan Manufacturing, made a special point of welcoming visitor-customers from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, who — largely through Titan’s initiative — have become a huge export market for Case IH.

“As you go back and built the first one, you never thought what the future was,” says Doug Steiger, who with his brother and father started the company, which later moved to Fargo and ultimately became part of CNH. Steiger acknowledges that, at age 75, he still tinkers in his shop, but cagily declines to say whether he’s still inventing.

“Hard to say, it goes by the day,” he says with a twinkle.

Schafer says it’s gratifying for him to attend the event, which celebrates the agricultural innovation and might of the region. He says it is important to note how the tractor was “invented on a farm, by farmers looking for a better way” and the role the local bank had in encouraging the innovation. He says it is emblematic of the region that ideas for the tractor would fail one, two, three and four times, but that with perseverance, there “is no such thing as permanent failure.”

Dalrymple, of Casselton, N.D., who heads a large farming operation that dates to the 1880s and the so-called bonanza farm era, noted the importance of the plant and associated engineering posts, which is one of CNH’s two North American manufacturing plants and employs 700 in the state.

While perhaps a third of the people in the audience were farmers from the region who use Case IH products, Dalrymple and others commented on the importance of trade in technology to areas of the world where farmers produce crops that are in the marketplace competing with U.S. farmers. The lieutenant governor says that stronger export markets for North Dakota manufacturers means that those companies stay stronger to supply local farmers with equipment.

“There are plenty of reasons to share American know-how,” Schafer says, noting that the world population grows annually by 50 million people and that they must be fed.

Baker drew applause when he noted that the predecessor companies in the CNH timeline have long histories in the U.S. — J.I. Case Co. is 165 years old and International Harvester Co. is 200. He says the company continues to sell “some of the best brands that were ever produced in American history” including Steiger.

“It is so important to keep these brand names alive and well,” Baker says.