Game changer in farm work
nExhibit highlights 100-year history of New Holland Machine Co. BY CAROLE DECK, Correspondent,
With its automatic hay baler, New Holland Machine Co. helped change the future of agricultural machinery.
Now the company's past is on display in an exhibit at the New Holland Area Historical Society Museum.
The exhibit documents its journey from a small one-man machine shop to a global manufacturer.
Last week, retired employees of the company were invited for a sneak peek of the exhibit.
It's now open to the public through October during the museum's regular hours: Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
"New Holland Machine Co. put New Holland on the map, nationally and internationally, for their farm equipment," said Don Welsh, chairman of the museum's board of trustees.
"No matter where you travel today, you're sure to see a New Holland product," he said.
The exhibit includes items that have been donated to the museum as well as ones on loan from private owners.
Among them are collectible toy models, pewter miniatures, advertising mementos, posters, signs, baler twine, equipment, tools, photos and New Holland Line Newsletters.
A waffle iron, anvil and bulldog from the Depression era also are displayed.
And there's a cast iron cow made by company founder Abe Zimmerman. It's the oldest piece in the collection, dating to somewhere between 1914 and 1918.
The exhibit features a 110-piece collection on loan from Denny Sneath, a 40-year company employee, who still works there.
"I got excited about the heritage behind the company and started collecting items to preserve the history," said Sneath, 58, of Mountville.
He began his collection 10 years ago and now has more than 150,000 items.
The tool and design engineer's total collection includes 40 pieces of equipment produced by New Holland.
These include balers, hit-and-miss engines, tractors, old magazine articles/ads and marketing mementos.
He's also the owner of the 700,000th baler produced by the plant.
According to Sneath, the most popular equipment was the round baler.
The business, first known as New Holland Machine Works, was founded by Zimmerman in 1895.
It was located at Luther Avenue (now Railroad Avenue).
In 1903, Zimmerman incorporated the business, renaming it New Holland Machine Co., while moving it to 146 E. Franklin St.
In 1940, four men -- George C. Delp, Raymond D. Buckwalter, Irl A. Daffin and the Rev. J. Henry Fisher -- purchased the struggling company and convinced Edwin B. Nolt, inventor of the first automatic hay baler, to join the firm.
Mass production of Nolt's innovative baler catapulted the company to worldwide manufacturing success and cemented the company's place in history.
Sperry Corp. bought New Holland in 1947, then sold it to Ford Motor Company in 1986, when it became Ford New Holland.
In 1991, Ford New Holland was acquired by Italy's Fiat Group. Then in 1999, it acquired Case Corp. to form CNH Global.
Its New Holland Agriculture division is based here, having 1,300 employees at its headquarters at 600 Diller Ave., New Holland.
The New Holland Area Historical Society Museum is at 207 E. Main St. on the second floor of the former Kauffman Hardware building.