We are now looking at the purpose built forestry equipment manufacturers. We move onto our second manufacturer, Franklin.
In the mid 1950’s, Roger Drake of Southampton County, USA, started a service station repair shop. He provided mechanical services to the local logging contractors. Doing this work made him realise that the contractors needed better equipment to move logs and trees. He then built a few prototype skidders from used parts. These were all rubber tyred and articulated and would provide the grounding for the development of future Franklin Loggers.
Drake then opened an automotive supply store (Franklin Auto Supply) and became the agent to distribute Pettibone, a rigid frame, rubber tyred skidder. This was based in Franklin, Virginia. The Franklin Logger then emerged. The first was built in 1962. The hard nature of the forestry operations took their toll, and Drake had to quickly make changes such as using planetary axles, gear driven winches, a heavier torque convertor and larger radiator.
Marketing was initially done directly, but the first dealership came into being in 1963. The mid 1960’s saw much expansion. During this time, the first grapple skidders were built. By the 1980’s, the range of machines was the most complete in the industry and included feller bunchers, cable skidders, grapple skidders, forwarders and site prep machines. In 1990 Franklin purchased the Tree Farmer Skidder Division from Hawker Sidely. This doubled the dealerships and improved market access for both lines.
Product improvement and expansion has continued at Franklin. It is still a privately held company and is owned by the Drake family. Source: www.franklin-treefarmer.com