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Brother remembers Grove co-founder

March 28, 2000|By DON AINES

SHADY GROVE, Pa. - At the end of World War II, as the nation shifted back to a peacetime economy, there was a great need for products that had been unavailable during the war.

With the shortage of most types of farm equipment, brothers Dwight and John Grove saw an opportunity to fill that need. The brothers began making farm wagons in 1946 and built the business into the largest private employer in Franklin County.

Dwight Grove, who was the president and CEO of the company until it was sold in 1967, died Saturday in Waynesboro Hospital at the age of 85.

"He was a good person." John Grove, 79, said Monday. "He was an authoritative person. He knew what he wanted and made you go by the book to get there. ... I always respected him as my older brother."

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Grove said he and his brother began building farm wagons in a rented four-car garage in Shady Grove, Pa., east of the present site of Grove Worldwide Inc.

Post-war demand helped make them a success.

"(Production) practically came to a standstill during the war," Grove said.

Tractors were still being built during the war, but farmers had to make do with other machinery they bought before the war, he said.

Dwight Grove "was more on the administrative end of the business," said Grove, who handled most of the engineering duties. "We made a good pair."

The company is now best known for making mobile cranes, a business John Grove said they got into out of necessity.

Grove Manufacturing Inc. handled large amounts of steel in building the wagons. "It became necessary to come up with a device to handle the steel," Grove said.

John Grove went on to found JLG Industries Inc., which makes aerial work platforms and is the largest employer in Fulton County, Pa.

By the time they sold their original company, it employed 1,200.

"We worked hard, but we took good care of our people," Grove said. That included huge annual picnics and Christmas parties for employees and their families, he said.

"A lot of local people joined our company and we couldn't have done it without them," Grove said.

Grove Worldwide now employs about 2,500 people.

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