By: Michael Howell
Nearly two and a half centuries’ have come and gone since a small group of men set out on a journey.
They were challenged with the task of navigating large rolling hills, dense forests, wild animals, and Native Americans. Led by General James Hedges, this team was responsible for the survey of what would eventually be known as Richland County, Ohio.
More importantly, a small plot of land in the fork of the Mohican river would later become the city of Mansfield.
In the short years coming, the bustling settlement was starting to develop into a typical storybook scene. Blacksmith shops, furniture makers, butchers, and farmers were abundant, being some of the first predominant colonials in the area. Giant sandstone mountains filtered natural spring water that was excellent for wine and beer makers. Early natural caverns made ideal storage conditions for the perishable items. Recently re-discovered caverns are even being revitalized for tourism and preservation purposes downtown.
In the mid 1800’s, the towns people all gathered in the Flats of the city for a life changing event. The locals were chanting, and the ground was shaking when the first locomotive pulled into Mansfield. Bellowing out steam and making noises most folks in the area had never heard, the age of industrialism was here.
The next fifty years would see growth like no other. Mansfield was a center of manufacturing and trade in North-Central Ohio thanks to the four railroads that now passed through the community. The infamous Ohio State Reformatory was near completion and there were new industrial manufacturing plants starting to fill in the local skyline. There were several local industries that were able to stay relevant by making minor changes to keep up with America’s now fast-paced lifestyle. The Aultman Taylor company was founded on the patents of horse drawn field plows, then later converted to steam tractors. The Westinghouse Corporation was able to retool factories previously producing steam generators, to now help put washing machines in nearly every American home.
On the Northeast side of the city, there was an entrepreneur by the name of Charles Smith. He had a vision to start an equipment dealership that would cater to the growing local transportation industry. He would specialize in crude rail car movers as well as another type of machine that would later be known as the terminal tractor. These machines were specifically made to load and haul cargo with the use of a 5th wheel in such a manner that the driver never has to dismount the truck.
After outgrowing the original location, the business was moved just a half mile North to its current home at 330 Ashland Rd, and Mr. Smith was able to continually build the company through the 1980’s. When the Desert Storm War was in the minds of most, patriotic Mr. Smith decided to change the name of the company to what we know today as Eagle Mark 4 Equipment Company. From there he created his own version of the terminal tractor, a spotter dubbed “The Eagle Mark IV.”
As he started to enjoy his later years in life, there was a young family member that was taking the helms, and Mr. Scott Huvler would eventually become the Vice President of the rapidly growing company. He was able to lead Eagle Mark 4 into national recognition for yard tractor parts as well as yard truck manufacturing. Mr. Huvler has been a friend and mentor for many years. Under his control, there were few days that every employee did not have a smile on their faces.
As the 21st century was on the horizon, strict government regulations started diminishing small equipment manufacturing. The manufacturing of The Eagle Mark IV truck that was once solely produced in Mansfield, Ohio had come to an end. But, that bump on the road did not slow down the Eagle family. We pushed forward!
Now finally pushed into the age of electronic communication and dot com’s, our small-town company was now shipping spare parts and equipment worldwide. A long-term dealer for Capacity of Texas allowed us to offer genuine spare parts as well as new equipment. In the mid 2000’s, there was another truck manufacturer who began to take a larger share of the market, and Eagle Mark 4 jumped on board.
Kalmar Ottawa, the true pioneer in the industry, has become the world’s largest terminal tractor manufacturer. Located in rural Kansas, Kalmar has officially produced over 75,000 pieces of equipment since 1958, as well as employing 11,000+ people all over the world under the Kalmar / Cargotec umbrella.
We are proud to announce that Eagle Mark 4 is a Premier Partner of the Kalmar Ottawa truck line, a growing relationship that has once again excelled us to the next level.
Eagle Mark 4 has also been fortunate enough to tap into the North Carolina market. This territory based in Raleigh offers service and parts support for shipping ports on the eastern seaboard. In 2019, a refurbishment division was opened at the historic Bissman building in downtown Mansfield. This allowed us to focus on frame–off restorations for mostly pre-emission units operating in large fleets and local companies.
Thousands of people drive by our world headquarters every month, most of them never realizing the impact a small niche market in Mansfield has on our everyday life.
In 2020, despite the growing pandemic, Eagle Mark 4 was able to provide hundreds of rental units to companies across the continental United States, allowing major transportation companies as well as online retailers to get products in the hands of quarantined America. Now, then, and always- we will be here to keep you moving.
Contributions by Sarah Maness