A leader in social responsibility, Bataille offered interest-free loans to his employees, a majority of whom were former farmers living in poor conditions who then more easily became homeowners. He developed a technical training center to provide workers and excavator operators with job training. Bataille established one of the first staffed company cafeterias for his employees and a network of buses to safely transport them to and from work; while not a widespread practice in the 1960s, Bataille instituted noise-reduction measures in the plant and on excavators.
Bataille’s civic service included leadership of French standardization and business development organizations, and he also served as president of the Committee for European Construction Equipment. In 1990, Bataille was awarded the rank of Officer of the Legion of Honor by the French government in recognition of his entrepreneurial leadership.
Wood Brothers – Keith, Leonard and Mervel (Woods Equipment Company):
Keith, Leonard and Mervel Wood were problem solvers, risk takers and entrepreneurs who used these skills to fuel their drive for inventing and manufacturing. As pioneers in the development of rotary cutters and mowers, the Wood brothers helped create a prevalent product category for the short line industry.
One invention that dramatically affected the agricultural industry is the company’s iconic Batwingrotary cutter, known generically as the flex-wing rotary cutter, first shipped in 1963. Other key inventions include the patented single V-belt drive system, used on virtually all residential and commercial mowers in use today, and the single attachment pin blade retention system, a design still used on most Woods cutters today.
The brothers sought to adapt their equipment to all types, sizes and models of tractors, including two adaptors that were predecessors of today’s standard 3-point hitch. In the 1970s, the Wood brothers elevated product support to a new level, ensuring sales and service were available across the country in the days before overnight delivery.
Starting the company after World War II in Oregon, Illinois, the Wood brothers contributed greatly to job creation and development of skilled labor in the region, training thousands as welders, machinists, metal fabricators, painters, engineers and office personnel. Sustainability for the brothers was always about doing right, for example, metal scrap recycling (not widespread in the ’40s and ’50s).
Nominations for the next Hall of Fame will open in June 2013.