Toro Celebrates – A Century of Innovation –


Toro Celebrates! 100 Years of Innovation and Relationships

The Toro Company is celebrating our 100th birthday on 10 July 2014. Join in the celebration by following our journey over the last century, sharing with us your Toro stories, browsing our selection of centennial merchandise – and much more.

Since our founding in 1914, the people of Toro have been driven to help make life easier and more enjoyable for the customers we are honoured to serve – with a constant commitment to innovation and building trusted relationships. Both fundamental principles from our very beginning that remain strong today.

We thank all of our customers for your business that helped us achieve this remarkable milestone.  We value the trust you have placed in our people and products, and look forward to continuing to serve you as we accelerate into our second century. We also take time to celebrate a legacy of caring for our communities, and are pleased to continue our support through a new Legacy Grant Programme and our annual Product Donation Programme.

Toro Through The Years

  • 1913

    The Bull Tractor Company, founded in 1913 in Minneapolis, MN, revolutionised the farm tractor business by introducing the first small tractor. The tractor’s size and price ($335), which was less than the price of a good team of draft horses, matched the needs and budget of the average farmer. In 1914, Bull sold more tractors than any other brand, but soon had trouble sourcing a reliable supply of motors.

  • 1914

    On 10 July 1914, The Toro Motor Company was founded to build engines for The Bull Tractor Company. John Samuel Clapper, a Bull Tractor executive and co-founder of The Toro Motor Company, was named the company’s first president. Toro’s first plant was located at 570 North Prior Avenue in St. Paul, MN.

  • 1916

    When Bull Tractor’s sales and financial fortunes soured in 1916, Toro quickly adapted in order to survive. The company built engines and other components for both the farm and truck industries, as well as steam steering winches for merchant navy ships during the war.

  • 1918

    Toro introduces its first product built specifically for golf, a power fairway roller based on a Bull tractor frame.

  • 1919

    The company introduces its first Toro-branded piece of equipment, a revolutionary farm machine that could be converted from a standard farm tractor to a two-row power cultivator. Known as the Toro TO-RO Utility Tractor, it enables farmers to perform multiple tasks while saving time, money and labour.

  • 1919

    Toro is approached by the Minikahda Club in Minneapolis to create a motorised fairway mower to replace horse-drawn equipment. Mounting five lawn mowers onto the front of a farm tractor, Toro creates the Standard Golf Machine and helps create the motorised golf course equipment industry.

  • 1920

    A devastating farm depression hits, curtailing Toro’s growing TO-RO utility tractor sales. The company decides to exit the agricultural equipment business, and focus its efforts exclusively on turf maintenance.

  • 1922

    In order to provide local, expert service for its growing golf course customer base, Toro launches the industry’s first national golf distributor network by signing its first distributor agreement with Henry R. Jahn, T.L. Gustin and Orville O. Clapper (a son of Toro’s president) in New York.

  • 1923

    Toro introduces the Sea Serpent fairway sprinkler system, one of John Clapper’s 16 patents, making Toro the only company to offer a full line of both turf maintenance and irrigation equipment.

  • 1923

    Toro introduces the first roller-type push putting green mower that can handle creeping bent grass. It becomes an industry standard for two decades.

  • 1923

    Toro introduces the Super Mower, the first fully-enclosed, oil tight, machine cut, hardened steel gear fairway mower ever built in America.

  • 1924

    Toro introduces its first power mower, the 30" Park Special walk behind reel mower. The Park Special was the most successful early large commercial-grade walk mower. Known as America’s favourite heavy-duty, Toro sold the Park Special for three decades.

  • 1926

    A young Scotsman, Mungo Reid “Scotty” McLaren, is named Toro’s and the industry’s first golf course field service representative. The close customer relationships he forms leads Scotty to a sales career that will span nearly 50 years. In the industry, he was often referred to as “Mr Toro”.

  • 1928

    Toro introduces the Silver Flash push reel mower, billed as “America’s finest hand lawn mower”. It becomes a mainstay with golf courses, cities and parks for many years.

  • 1928

    Toro unveils the industry’s first all-electric-powered walk greens mower as well as a design for electric-powered cutting reels for tractors.

  • 1929

    In January of 1929, just 10 months prior to the stock market crash, Toro offers its first common stock to the public at $1.40 per share.

  • 1930

    Toro introduces its first petrol-powered greens mower.

  • 1930

    At request of The University of Minnesota, Toro builds a power roller for their tennis courts. The Toro Power Roller proves to be a highly successful product for more than three decades, serving thousands of schools, golf courses, athletic clubs, professional sports venues, and private and municipal street maintenance crews.

  • 1934

    As the business grows, Toro encourages distributors to establish dealers in areas the distributors’ staff cannot effectively cover. This initiative will prove critical following World War II when local customer service proves to be a decisive competitive advantage for Toro.

  • 1934

    Toro’s Jupiter Large Capacity Sprinkler is introduced for golf courses, polo fields and other large turf area applications.

  • 1938

    While homeowners have used other Toro power mowers for over a decade, the company introduces the Homelawn, its first power mower designed specifically for homeowners.

  • 1940

    Toro introduces the 76-inch Professional, “the power mower with wings”, that revolutionises commercial mowing. The Professional is an instant hit with golf courses and other industrial users. The 76 Professional proves to be a top seller in the Toro line-up through 1975. Additional 58" and 70" models were later added to appeal to both residential and commercial customers.

  • 1942

    During the war, the company makes plans for additional manufacturing space and new products to prepare for the anticipated post-war boom of suburbia and demand for homeowner products.

  • 1945

    An investment group led by three young World War II veterans and former Dartmouth classmates – David Lilly, Bob Gibson and Whit Miller – purchase Toro. Long-time Toro vice-president and sales manager Kenneth Goit is named president of the company.

  • 1948

    In a move David Lilly would later describe as “one of the best business decisions we ever made”, Toro acquires Whirlwind of Milwaukee, WI, a manufacturer of rotary lawn mowers. Toro engineers design a safer, enclosed rotary mower deck that boosts consumer acceptance and purchases of the new rotaries.

  • 1950

    David Lilly becomes Toro’s fourth president.

  • 1951

    Toro opens a new manufacturing plant in Windom, MN, to serve as a primary consumer products production facility.

  • 1951

    Toro markets its first snowblower, the Snow Boy, an industrial unit that reportedly “takes the place of 50 men” clearing streets by hand.

  • 1952

    Toro opens an expansive R&D facility in Bloomington, MN, to test new product concepts and conduct agronomic research. It is the first such facility in the world.

  • 1952

    Agronomist James R. Watson, PhD, (1920-2013) joins Toro. Dr. Watson leads a team of 25 scientists at Toro’s R&D facility, conducting cutting-edge agronomic studies that significantly advances turf care knowledge and helps revolutionise the industry. Dr. Watson becomes a living legend in the turf industry.

  • 1956

    Toro becomes the first company in the lawn and garden industry to advertise on television. The company’s first televised ads promote the new Power Handle, featuring a portable motor-mounted handle to power numerous implements. The Power Handle is a huge success soon representing 25% of company sales.

  • 1959

    Toro introduces the revolutionary Wind Tunnel housing on rotary mowers greatly enhancing quality of cut and making bagging possible on rotary mowers for the first time – Toro introduces the first bagging lawnmower.

  • 1962

    Toro acquires Moist-O-Matic, Inc., an irrigation equipment manufacturer in Riverside, CA, providing entry into the underground irrigation business. The acquisition leads to Toro’s return to golf irrigation.

  • 1964

    Toro introduces the Snow Pup, the first lightweight consumer snowblower.

  • 1966

    Toro helps prepare the field for Super Bowl I, forming a partnership that continues to this day.

  • 1966

    Toro introduces the Valve-In-Head Sprinkler, combining both the valve and sprinkler head as one, to save customers money by reducing installation and maintenance time.

  • 1967

    John Singleton, an experienced irrigation contractor, is hired to pioneer Toro’s entry into the golf underground irrigation business. By 1972, Singleton’s efforts help make Toro the most widely used automatic equipment in golf course irrigation.

  • 1972

    Toro introduces the first all-hydraulic greens mower, the Toro Greensmaster® 3.

  • 1973

    Toro introduces a new concept in commercial rotary mowing equipment – the all-hydraulic Groundsmaster® 72 that remains a dominant force for nearly four decades.

  • 1975

    Toro opens a new manufacturing plant in Tomah, WI, to produce golf and other professional turf equipment.

  • 1978

    Toro trades stock on the New York Stock Exchange.

  • 1981

    Ken Melrose named president of The Toro Company.

  • 1986

    Toro introduces a major innovation in snowblower performance – the Toro® CCR 2000 (Chuted Curved Rotor) technology that redefines single-stage performance.

  • 1990

    Toro introduces the Recycler®, a revolutionary mulching mower that practically eliminates the need to bag grass clippings thus dramatically reducing customers’ mowing time.

  • 1998

    Toro expands its agricultural irrigation business through the acquisition of Drip In Irrigation.

  • 1998

    Building on the legacy of Dr. James Watson, Toro’s Centre for Advanced Turf Technology (CATT) is formed.

  • 1999

    Toro introduces the revolutionary Toro® Personal Pace® self-propel drive system on walk mowers that enables users to mow at their own “personal pace”.

  • 2000

    Toro launches the Dingo® TX compact utility loader, changing how landscape contractors do their job.

  • 2003

    Toro introduces the new Toro® Ultra Blower and sells 1 million of the new blowers in one year.

  • 2004

    Michael J. Hoffman named president and chief operating officer of The Toro Company.

  • 2008

    Toro introduces the all-new Toro® Groundsmaster® 5900 Series rotary mower, which mows an acre in less than five minutes.

  • 2008

    Toro introduces innovative Precision™ Series spray nozzles, recognised as one of the most significant breakthroughs in irrigation nozzle technology in more than 60 years for its ability to help reduce water usage by up to 30 percent.

  • 2010

    Toro eFlex® introduced as the industry’s first lithium ion battery-powered walk greens mower.

  • 2010

    Toro introduces the Groundsmaster® 360 rotary mower with Quad-Steer™ all-wheel steering.

  • 2011

    Toro opens new micro irrigation manufacturing facility in Romania to support growing global demand for precision irrigation in agriculture.

  • 2011

    Toro introduces first-of-its-kind TimeMaster™ 30-inch walk-behind mower.

  • 2012

    Toro acquires utility trenchers, vibratory plows and directional drills from Astec Underground, Inc., to expand in the landscape and ground-engaging markets. Toro also expands rental offering with acquisition of light construction and hardscape products of Stone Construction Equipment, Inc.

  • 2012

    Toro’s award-winning Precision™ soil sensor becomes the first wireless moisture sensor introduced to the residential irrigation market to help homeowners maximise irrigation efficiency.

  • 2013

    Significantly lighter than comparably equipped competitive mowers, Toro’s new Reelmaster® 3550-D is the lightest fairway mower on the market.

  • 2013

    Toro’s new EVOLUTION® controller wins the Irrigation Association’s 2013 New Product Contest in the turf/landscape category for its intuitive interface, USB functionality for future upgrades, and smart control.

  • 2013

    Toro introduces the SmartStow™ feature on the Recycler® walk power mower that allows the machine to be stored vertically to significantly reduce the footprint of the mower.