The well-known Gradall excavator traces its roots back to the beginning of the 1940s. During this time, WWII had created a shortage of laborers as most of the young men went away to fight the war. This decline in the work force brought a huge demand for the delicate work of finishing and grading highway projects.
Ferwerda-Werba-Ferwerda was a Cleveland, Ohio based construction company which faced this specific dilemma first hand. Koop and Ray Ferwerda were brothers who had moved from the Netherlands. They were partners in the firm which had become amongst the major highway contractors in Ohio. The Ferwerdas' started to make an equipment which will save their livelihoods and their business by making a unit that will do what had previously been physical slope work. This creation was to offset the gap left in the workplace when so many men had joined the military.
The brothers initially invented an apparatus which had 2 beams set on a rotating platform, which was attached on top of a second-hand truck. They utilized a telescopic cylinder to move the beams out and in. This enabled the connected blade at the end of the beams to push or pull dirt.
After a short time, the Ferwerda brothers improved on their initial design. They created a triangular boom to produce more strength. Then, they added a tilt cylinder that allowed the boom to rotate forty-five degrees in either direction. This new model can be outfitted with either a blade or a bucket and the attachment movement was made possible by placing a cylinder at the rear of the boom. This design powered a long push rod and allowed much work to be completed.
Many digging buckets became available on the market not long later. These buckets in sizes varying from 15 inch, 24 inch, 36 inch and 60 inch buckets. There was additionally a 47 inch heavy-duty pavement removal bucket that was also offered.