The Advance-Rumely Company
Thanks to various mergers and acquisitions, the company’s origins stretched as far back as 1836. However, the origin of the two components of the corporate name—Advance Thresher Company and M. Rumely Company—were somewhat newer, though still long-lived in the agricultural equipment industry.
Advance Thresher and M. Rumely
Meinrad Rumely emigrated from Germany in 1848, joining his brother John in the operation of a foundry in La Porte, Indiana. This basic operation gradually expanded by 1859 into the production of corn shellers and complete threshing machines powered by horses. Following success in this new field, Meinrad then bought out his brother’s portion of the business and incorporated it as the M. Rumely Company by 1887. Starting in 1895, the line expanded to include steam-powered traction engines. Meinrad died in 1904, but his sons continued to manage the business. Rumely’s most famous product, the kerosene-powered Rumely Oil Pull traction engine, was first developed in 1909 and began selling to the public by 1910.
Meanwhile, Advance Thresher Company was founded in 1881 with a factory in Battle Creek, Michigan. In addition to their namesake threshing machines, this company was also a prolific producer of steam traction engines.
Acquisitions and mergers
From 1911-1912, M. Rumely Company began purchasing other firms in the agricultural equipment business. Both Advance Thresher Company and Gaar-Scott & Company were acquired during 1911. Then, in 1912, Rumely expanded further with the purchase of Northwest Thresher Company (out of Stillwater, Minnesota) and the American-Abell Engine and Thresher Company (out of Toronto, Ontario).
All these companies were first reorganized in 1913 as two connected firms: the existing M. Rumely Co. Inc. (effectively the manufacturing side), and the new Rumely Products Co. (the sales and distribution side). A further reorganization brought about the final Advance-Rumely Company by 1915, a move which both streamlined the organization and highlighted its famous forebears. Advance-Rumely hadn’t quite finished its expansion goals, either: the Aultman-Taylor Company of Mansfield, Ohio was picked up in 1923.
Consolidation and takeover
Despite all of the history and diversity in engineering acquired along with all of their corporate assets during the 1910s, most of this was left by the wayside as Advance-Rumely sought to fold everything under its new brand name or that of Rumely. The general financial collapse of the Great Depression, beginning in 1929 and carrying on through the early 1930s, began to take its toll on Advance-Rumely.
As early as January 1930, the Rumely management began seeking a buyer for the company. Correspondence with Otto Falk, president of the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company, proved fruitful: Allis-Chalmers agreed to take over the firm and did so by May 1931.
Rumely had already discontinued its traction engine lines in favor of newer-style tractors, but Allis-Chalmers had a line of those that was quite successful. The remaining Rumely-branded tractors were discontinued. Allis-Chalmers was more interested in Advance-Rumely’s line of threshing and harvesting machines (not to mention the sprawling plants that built them). Also of interest to Allis-Chalmers was Rumely’s extensive dealer network, which was instantly converted to the complete Allis-Chalmers product line. And the “La Porte plant”, as Advance-Rumely’s main headquarters was now called, became known as the “Harvester Capitol of the World” thanks to its eventual production of Allis-Chalmers’ successful All-Crop harvester line.
Allis-Chalmers would eventually succumb to bankruptcy and the dismantling of its vast business interests in 1985, but by that time Advance-Rumely was only a memory.
Advance-Rumely Company history by Wikipedia