MILWAUKEE — Three individuals have been selected for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Hall of Fame this year, a distinction that recognizes the pioneers whose inventions, ideas, leadership and courage have contributed to the industry and quality of life.
Art Moore (1924-2019), founder of Snorkel Lifts, and brothers Ray (1899-1976) and Koop Ferwerda (1900-1955), inventors of the Gradall excavator are this year’s recipients.
Moore grew up in St. Joseph, Miss., just north of Kansas City, where he became childhood friends with future business partner Ray Pitman. The two of them started the Pitman Manufacturing Company in 1949, focusing on hydraulic lift trucks. In 1958, the Chicago Fire Department modified a Pitman truck with a fire hose, explains an AEM release, and Moore saw the benefit of the idea, breaking off to focus on lifted fire equipment with the Snorkel Fire Equipment Company, which opened in 1959.
It was in 1977 that he took his plans for the Snorkel Telesquirt and applied them to a construction access lift, developing the first TB42 lift. In 1986, Moore led Snorkel to develop the “Uno” articulated boom lift for industrial plant maintenance, the release adds. Two years later, Snorkel entered the scissor lift market with the acquisition of Economy Engineering. In 1991, Moore retired from snorkel, however, returned to the board of directors after Snorkel was acquired by Ahern, where he served until his passing in 2019.
“Art Moore’s creations have saved thousands of lives in allowing firefighters to reach blazes they couldn’t before, and enabled thousands more with their innovative construction and access lifts,” said AEM president Dennis Slater in a release.
“Thank you for preserving his legacy,” added Sue Moore, wife of Art Moore. “He was a really great man, great in the industry, and I feel really great about this.”
Born and raised in the town of Sneek, The Netherlands, brothers Ray and Koop Ferwerda took a job aboard the Great Lakes-bound steam ship Sardinian in 1920 as a way to get to North America, the AEM release describes.
While making their way across Lake Erie, the boiler of the Sardinian exploded, and rescuers took Ray to Ohio, while Koop made ground in Ontario. Writing back home to The Netherlands in order to find each other, both Ray and Koop eventually made a home in the Cleveland area, finding jobs first at a local dairy, then building roads and sidewalks in Cleveland’s eastern suburbs.
It was in 1925 that the brothers had saved up enough money to open the Ferwerda Brothers Contracting Company. By 1940, they started developing an idea they had: A hydraulic excavator with an extendable boom that could reach down beneath the roadway to grade embankments.
Working with Warner-Swasey in 1946, the Gradall M2400 would become the first hydraulic excavator to enter series production in the U.S. Since then, the Gradall excavator concept has been expanded, still using the triangular, extendable boom design first devised by the Ferwerda brothers.
“We’re honoured by this induction into the AEM Hall of Fame,” said Ray Ferwerda Jr., grandson of Koop Ferwerda. “We looked at some of the other award winners over the years, and it’s quite incredible, the people the Ferwerda Brothers will be alongside.”
The induction of Moore and the Ferwerda Brothers brings the total number of inductees to 64. The Ferwerda Brothers are the third sibling team to be inducted into the Hall after Louis and Cyril Keller (Bobcat) and Maurice and Douglass Steiger (Steiger, along with their father John).
To learn more about the AEM Hall of Fame and its members, cloick here.