Toro, Charles Machine Works Provide Merger Update

The brands will remain separate for the most part, but some small changes have already occurred

Toro, Charles Machine Works Provide Merger Update

Rick Rodier, group vice president of construction business for Toro, recently gave an update on the company’s acquisition of Charles Machine Works brands while at the International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky.

Contractors using Charles Machine Works products, such as Ditch Witch, HammerHead Trenchless, American Augers and Subsite Electronics, won’t be noticing changes anytime soon despite Toro completing an acquisition of the company in April.

“The Toro brand itself is a good, iconic brand with a tremendous amount of equity and legacy, but we’re also a company that likes multiple brands,” says Rick Rodier, group vice president of construction business for Toro. “We’ve got some very strong brands in our portfolio today, and those are brands we manage independently of our own brand. We’ve invested tremendously into those brands and we’ll continue to do that with those existing brands in our portfolio, and we will do the same with the brands of Charles Machine Works.”

Toro announced its acquisition of the Charles Machine Works family of companies on Feb. 15 and thought at that time that the merger wouldn’t be completed for about five months. However, Rodier says the merger was completed ahead of time on April 1.

“There has been a lot that has gone on. We’ve tried to keep the task at hand and work in front of us as clean and simple as we could,” Rodier says. “There’s been a tremendous amount of work done by a lot of people, and I will say there have been a lot of questions about what does the future look like, how does Toro want to move forward with these brands, with these companies, what’s our plan, what’s going to change, what’s going away, what’s going to stay? And as I’ve told many people, Toro has done acquisitions in the past. We don't do a lot of them, but we do enough. By no means would I dare say we’re experts, but I think we’re pretty good at the whole work upfront and the integration process, and that work is going on right now.”

Small Changes

In August, Toro announced one of the changes with the merger: That the Toro brand would step away from the horizontal directional drill and riding trencher markets.

“We’ll probably be totally out of those product lines by the end of the calendar year,” Rodier says. “There’s no plans at this point to move forward in any investment in Toro for those product lines. To continue with it would dilute our efforts to try and manage both brands in that category versus putting more emphasis and investments behind the Ditch Witch brand, which is what we will continue to do.”

However, that doesn’t mean that technology used on the Toro side won’t end up finding its way to the Ditch Witch side in the future.

“One of the real pluses of the merger is the investment both brands make in new product development and new technology,” Rodier says. “You can’t survive in the product development world today without continuing to make significant investments in new products.”

In fact, Ditch Witch was highlighting one of its new horizontal directional drills at the International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition recently — the new JT24 horizontal directional drill.

In another area where the two companies share the same product, Rodier announced that both Toro and Ditch Witch would continue with their own lines of compact skid-steers. 

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the position in the marketplace on both product lines,” he says. “From a Toro perspective, we have a lot of history managing multiple brands in similar space. We don’t see any changes in either of those two product lines with the two companies. With anything, we’ll look for opportunities to build synergies. We’re not going to force that, because they have their own brand and product identity, which we think is really good and we don’t see that changing. If there are opportunities for those brands and product lines to work together, we’re not going to ignore that, but we’re not going to force that as well.”

Moving Forward

The cultures of these two entities — Charles Machine Works and Toro — is what is helping the merger move along easily, company officials say.

“Things have gone rather smoothly,” says Dennis Wierzbicki, Ditch Witch president. “We used to promote that we are a family of companies, a family of brands that work really well. And you know what? That’s not changing. We’re still waking up every day making orange equipment and serving the markets.” 

Wierzbicki is excited for the potential the merger carries.

“It’s nice to be working with a company that commits to innovations of new technologies,” he says.


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