Today, Barko Hydraulics, LLC line of material handlers (knuckleboom loaders) and land clearing and land preparation equipment (industrial tractors, industrial crawlers and mulchers) continue to lead the industry due to expert engineering and design, superior quality and the ability to deliver a lower total cost of ownership than competitors. Tough, dependable and powerful, Barko’s industry innovations have become standard equipment designs worldwide and the equipment of choice among customers. As Barko continues to grow and expand, the company continues to maintain the core family values that it began with almost 50 years ago.
Barko Hydraulics, LLC was founded in Duluth, Minnesota in 1963, Barko Hydraulics has led the industry with innovative solutions that meet the needs of operators in a variety of applications worldwide.
Barko began as a merger between two family-owned businesses from Minnesota – Ramey Manufacturing & Engineering, a producer of pulpwood loaders, and Lake Shore Body Company, a custom truck body company. After Ramey Manufacturing declared bankruptcy in 1962, Lake Shore Body Company seized the opportunity to combine the two product lines and provide a new service to the industry. Owned by the Bartell family, the name Barko Hydraulics was soon introduced.
Barko Hydraulics experienced a rapid growth over the next few years, continually adding new equipment and applications to their product portfolio. The company quickly attained the reputation of being an innovator of well-known “industry firsts”, introducing new products such as knuckleboom equipment and telescopic outriggers to the market.
By 1973, Barko had outgrown their Duluth facility and purchased the Paper Calmenson Steel Warehouse in Superior, Wisconsin to serve as their new corporate headquarters. However, Barko’s consistent business couldn’t overpower a recession in the market, and in 1975, Barko was forced to sell their rapidly growing company to Pettibone LLC. The Bartell family was asked to maintain company leadership, and soon Barko brought itself back from hard times.
During the 1980s, Barko continued to make an impact in the forestry and scrap handling, developing several new products and acquiring other product lines such as Bobcat Forestry Products in 1987. By the end of 1990, Barko had recorded the highest revenues and earnings in company history, and over the next decade, Barko continued achieving steady growth and success.