They’re not just in the business of selling lawn mowers – Walker Manufacturing in Fort Collins is a local, family-owned and operated business whose main priorities are not only selling their top-of-the-line mowers, but also upholding their company values by leading employees with opportunity, faith, and family.
PVREA first came to know Walker Manufacturing when they built their headquarters in 1990 in PVREA’s service territory, just north of the co-op. Over the years PVREA has helped them with managing their energy on the production floor, getting the most bang for the energy buck and simply having a relationship with a shop up the road.
But what’s also interesting to PVREA, since our foundation and history is so rooted in community and family, is Walker Manufacturing’s history and culture that is also rooted in family. How they came to be, what the years have held for them as Walker family lines have lead the company, and who they are today.
Max Walker founded the company through his own entrepreneurship. Max invented a gas-powered golf car in 1957, which eventually sold 1,000 units. Max went on to develop the Walker Power Truck and an evaporative cab cooler for tractors. He had a keen eye for engineering and quality product development.
Fast forward to 1974 and Walker Manufacturing settled in Fort Collins, Colorado to manufacture more coolers. When the Walker family purchased riding lawn mowers to mow their own yards, they decided they could make something better. And they did in 1977 when Max and his two sons, Bob and Dean, went to work on a lawn mower that was fast, easy to operate and delivered a beautiful cut.
By 1991, Walker Manufacturing was improving their engineering, the company held 50 employees, and was selling across the globe. Today, they’ve produced over 140,000 mowers, have 180 employees and sell in 28 different countries.
“We have been and continue to pursue excellence in our product and service. As a smaller company competing in a market with some giant manufacturers, we must offer an excellent product in order to get in the market and stay in the market. An “average” product from a big, well-known brand name may be acceptable and desirable to customers, but the smaller manufacturing company can only hope to compete by offering an excellent product. That mantra guides our work each day,” Bob Walker commented.
Max Walker passed in 2011, leaving the company to the rest of the Walker Family. Their pride in the product and the importance of family and faith at the business is what makes Walker Manufacturing unique. They believe in their product, but they more importantly believe in their people.
In fact, in their employee handbook is a statement titled “Team Philosophy” and it says, ““No one works for Walker Manufacturing Company - each employee works with Walker.”
According to Ryan Walker, son of Dean Walker and Director of Business Operations at Walker Manufacturing, the company operates “family-style” in an effort to do what is right for employees and their families. They choose to operate on a single shift on the production floor that’s advantageous to family life. And they pride themselves on great benefits and insurance for employees. They even offer services to employees for adoption.
“The manufacturing and business environment is dynamic and we continually make decisions that impact our people and their families. We choose to operate Walker Family Resources, an internal initiative to strengthen the families of Walker Manufacturing Company,” Ryan Walker commented.
PVREA can’t help but notice pride and smiles on the faces of Bob, Dean, other Walker family members and employees when we visit Walker Manufacturing for a meeting or to present them with their capital credits check. PVREA is proud to be the power behind the switch at a local business like Walker Manufacturing.