Burch Manufacturing Company


| September/October 2000



Jack Bradley on Oliver tractor

Jack Bradley, then plant foreman on an Oliver 77 tractor displaying Heat-Houser, 1956.

W4672 Mill Road Greenwood, Wisconsin 54437-8738

It's been 113 years since Burch Manufacturing Company, Inc. of Fort Dodge, Iowa, entered the textile business, fashioning canvas covers for the early covered wagons and repairing tents and other canvas products.

Over that 113 year period, Burch has undergone changes in name, location, product line and production techniques. One thing has remained constant, however; its ownership and management has been in the Burch family since it was started. The family's high standards for quality and dependability have gained the company a well-deserved reputation over the years.

Founded in 1882, Burch Manufacturing has expanded from the once tiny operation setup in a basement to repair covered wagons, to a multi-faceted manufacturing firm with international distribution of many of its products. Its history spans a century which saw more growth and development in both science and industry than any other 113 year period in history.

Burch Manufacturing has its roots in Lincoln, Nebraska, where Eugene C. Burch was a young man, still in school in 1882. Using his mother's sewing machine set up in the basement of the family home, he began to repair covered wagons, buggy tops, awnings, and other canvas goods to earn extra spending money. One of his awning jobs required lettering of the business name on the awning. As canvas paint was not available and being an energetic businessman, he substituted black shoe polish for the lettering. The awning looked beautiful until it rained. At that time, Eugene C. Burch learned there was no substitute for quality.

His mother's domestic sewing machine succumbed to the heavy usage after a short time, and was replaced with a sturdier model to accommodate his increasing volume of business.