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Cecil Elwood Pond

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Name  Cecil Pond

Died  December 30, 2011
Cecil Elwood Pond Cecil Elwood Pond 1924 2011 Find A Grave Memorial

Cecil Elwood Pond (June 4, 1924 – December 30, 2011) was an American businessman, inventor, and entrepreneur. He was the founder of Wheel Horse Products Co. Inc and was the primary inventor of the modern American riding mower.


Early Life & Family

Pond was born in South Bend, Indiana, to Elmer and Ann Marie Pond. He graduated from South Bend's former Washington-Clay High School, and served in the U.S. Army during World War II. In 1946, Pond returned to South Bend and in June of that year, married Betty Alber Pond. Mr & Ms Pond were the parents of three children: son Gary Pond, and two daughters, Linda and Constance.

Beginnings In Business

1946 saw the beginnings of Pond's manufacturing future. Pond joined his father Elmer, who at the time was building two-wheel lawn tractors (which the operator would walk behind) from angle iron, surplus motorcycle and automotive parts in his garage. At first, the Ponds' company was simply called Pond Tractor Company; however, they discovered another family member owned a similarly-named company. "Wheel Horse" was then chosen, and the name stayed with the company until its demise as a separate operation of the Toro companies in the 1980s.

In the late forties, military veterans returning from World War II began moving to the vast new suburbs then transforming the American landscape. Their suburban homes had larger lots that demanded more attention—and the Ponds' riding mower found many ready buyers as a result.

In 1954, Pond introduced his first 4-wheel lawn tractor, an event which altered substantially the lawn care manufacturing business. By 1957, his Wheel Horse Products company recorded sales over $1 million (US$8,527,251 in 2016 dollars)for the first time. Just two years later, the company's sales more than doubled, to $4.5 million (US$36,970,890 in 2016 dollars).

Sale to American Motors Corporation

In 1975, Pond sold Wheel Horse Products to American Motors Corporation. At the time of the sale, Pond oversaw over 500 workers at his plant and over 3,000 dealers were selling the brand.

Branching Out Into Other Businesses

In the seventies, Pond acquired Skystream Airlines, a small commuter airline in northern Indiana. Skystream, which was formed in September 1973, when it acquired routes once flown by Hub Airlines, Inc., served northern Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.

Also in the seventies, Pond purchased Lakeside Winery, formerly Molly Pitcher Vineyards, located in Harbert, Michigan. The vineyard/winery was the oldest in Michigan.

Pond served for a time as president of the Young Presidents Organization.


Cecil Elwood Pond Wikipedia

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