BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – As The Toro Company nears its 100th anniversary in 2014, it is reflecting upon its past as it continues to drive to the future. Since its beginning, Toro has created innovative products, services and solutions to help customers care for their outdoor environments – from golf courses and sports fields to public green spaces, commercial and residential properties, and agricultural fields. The principles that have guided the company from the very beginning – a commitment to innovation and building lasting relationships – remain a key focus today as Toro looks to its next hundred years.
Driven By Innovation From the company’s first patent in 1920 for a convertible cultivator tractor, to the more than 20 U.S. patents it received in 2012, Toro has obtained over 800 U.S. patents, in addition to many corresponding patents outside the U.S. Toro demonstrates its commitment to innovation by annually dedicating at least 3 percent of net sales to research and new product development. Recently, in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s list of annual R&D spending among Minnesota public companies, Toro ranked 11th with investments of just over $60 million in fiscal 2012.
The combination of intensive product development and a deep understanding of customer needs has enabled Toro to achieve and maintain market leadership. In 1919, at the request of The Minikahda Club in Minnesota, Toro created a mechanized mowing machine to replace horse-drawn equipment typically used by golf courses at that time. After Minikahda put the new machine to the test, the chairman of the grounds committee, Senator William F. Brooks, predicted it would "revolutionize the cutting of grass on golf courses." His prediction came true and helped establish Toro as the leader in the industry.
More recently, in a broader effort to help customers better manage water resources, Toro introduced the Precision Soil Sensor – the first wireless moisture sensor for the residential irrigation market. This award-winning technology was recognized for its compatibility with most irrigation controllers, including competitive units, long-range wireless connectivity, and the ability to help homeowners save water by knowing when to water based on moisture levels beneath the surface.
Core to the company’s success is the drive of its employees in continually seeking new products to deliver top-quality performance, enhance productivity and improve efficiency for customers. Another key contributing factor to Toro’s success is its partnership with researchers worldwide to advance the science of turf management, and help customers conserve water and other resources.
One unique, solutions-based approach was the formation of Toro’s Center for Advanced Turf Technology (CATT) in 1998. Comprised of a team of leading agronomists and engineers, CATT has been influential in the development of products that increase productivity, save water, reduce fuel consumption and improve growing conditions. This group also has created the foundation for future innovation in robotics, fuel cells, advanced battery technologies and site assessment, including Toro’s patented PrecisionSense site assessment solution. Used by golf courses and sports fields around the world, this innovative mobile soil sensing and data collection technology measures the variability of key site attributes – such as soil moisture, salinity, compaction and plant performance – to help improve water and resource efficiency, and produce healthy turf.
Understanding the needs of its customers and empowering product development teams to strive for innovation enables Toro to deliver industry-leading advancements in its products. This focus has created all-new product categories, increased customer productivity, and advanced more efficient use of resources.