Glenn & Helen Grover
The Story of Howard Grover,
Inventor of the Harogator, and his wife Helen Grover, owners of Grover Manufacturing of Luckey, Ohio. By Helen Grover, Shirley Davis, Betty Meyer, and Sally Predmore
above; Helen Grover & Howard Grover
The Harrow, by definition, a set of harrows, is an implement for cultivating the surface of the soil. The plow digs deep in the soil and turns the soil into a large pile at the surface. After plowing, the large piles need to be broken to level the planting surface. The harrow has been used to break up clods and lumps of soil for hundreds of years. Harrows were originally pulled by workhorse, oxen or by very strong men and women. Today farmers use a disc to break up the large piles of soil created during plowing and a tractor almost always pulls the harrow. The harrow is now used to break up clods and lumps of soil and to provide a finer finish, a good tilth or soil structure that is best suited for seeding and planting operations. Harrowing may also be used to remove weeds and to cover seed after sowing. Plowing digs deep into the soil, harrowing works on the surface of the soil and is done after plowing. This harrow is called a folding A-frame harrow because of its shape. It has a wooden frame with metal teeth. These “teeth” did the work of breaking up the clumps of soil. There are four common types of harrows, the disc harrow, the chain harrow, the tine harrow, and the spring harrow. Chain harrow are often used for lighter work such as leveling the tilth or covering seed. Disc harrow is used for heavy work such as breaking up clumps after plowing sod. Tine harrow are used to refine the seedbed condition before planting, to remove small weeds between growing crops and to loosen the inter-row soils to allow for water to soak into the subsoil. Chain harrowing may be used on pastureland to spread out dung or to level off ground after heavy use. All types of harrow only work on the surface of the soil. Howard or Red Grover was an inventor. He is responsible for improving the harrow. The first harrows were constructed of wood with large metal pegs that protruded through the wood to the other side. He made the harrow of sturdy metal with spikes that could easily be replaced if broken or damaged. He made it easier to transport the harrow from place to place. His harrow unlike others before had wheels and the ability to collapse for transport on highways. Howard Grover was born June 15th, 1915 outside of Sugar Ridge, Ohio. Howard was known as “Red” by most who knew him; he acquired the nickname because of his red hair. Red attended school at Webster Public School. He only attended school through grade 9. Red married Helen Snyder, Sept. 26th, 1936. Helen and Red were married 63 1/2 years at the time of Red’s death. Helen and Red were the proud parents of three daughters, Arlene, Beverly and Alma Grace. Helen was born Jan. 8th, 1918 in Stony Ridge, Ohio. She attended school in Dunbridge, OH and then transferred and graduated from Bowling Green High School. For the first year of their married life they lived with Helen’s parents. In 1937 the married couple moved to Luckey. Red’s first and a very important job was working at the Luckey Lime Plant. It was at the Lime Plant that he learned to weld, a skill that would sustain him for a lifetime. He also worked at a Stamping Plant in Toledo, a position that cost him three fingers. Helen remarked, “Red had a talent for getting hurt.” Red also had a serious accident on what Helen describes as a “dilapidated” motorcycle. He also was seriously hurt when he fell while working for Chip Baker building houses. Helen, still alive at this writing, enjoys telling of how she and Red met some seventy-two years ago. The Grovers first met at the “Midway”. The “Midway” refers to the “Midway Restaurant and Night Club” which was located on route 25. Howard or Red was with two other boys. Red was the one in the middle when Helen first saw them. She said she thought, “The one in the middle is the cutest”. After becoming acquainted, Red wanted to take her home but Helen said, “I’m going home the same way that I came.” Although the “cute one” did not get to take Helen home, they continued to see each other and eventually were married. Some ten years after Helen and Red were married, Red was again working at the Lime Plant here in Luckey. Red, determined to go deer hunting with some friends, ignored his employer’s threat to fire him should he decide not to show up for work. Upon his return from his deer hunting adventure, Red found out he had no job. It was a combined financial effort of many that made it possible for Red to open “Grover’s Welding and Repair” in 1946. Helen and Red has some bonds to cash in, Marion Layman at the bank assisted in obtaining funds and even Howard’s grandmother gave him $200. The money from Howard’s grandmother was used to purchase the first 2 acres of ground from John Hoelter. The first building only 30 feet by 50 feet was the beginning of “Grover’s Welding and Repair”, the building still stands on Luckey road. Most inventions are the result of a need. James Watt did not invent the Steam Engine. He was working on a model of the steam engine that Thomas Newcomen had invented. Watt thought of ways the engine could be improved. So it was the inefficient steam engine of Newcomen, with a simple up and down motion planted the idea for the two stoke external combustion steam engine with a crank shaft and crank that supplied us with rotary motion. This rotary motion from Watt’s steam engine is what powered the industrial revolution. So, here in Luckey, Orville Miller and Harry Melcher brought wooden drags into Grover’s Welding Shop to be repaired. As Howard was working on the wooden drags he got the idea that he could make a much better and effective drag with metal frame and spikes. Several tries and modifications brought about a product Red wanted to make. With the help of an attorney, he received a patent and the business of making the “Harogator” was born. The lawyer actually came up with the name “Harogator”. Red’s Harogator was an excellent replacement for any harrow on the market at the time. The little Grover’s Welding Shop became Grover’s Manufacturing Company by 1967 and had a booming business. Over time 5 additions had to be made to the building. The 30 ft. by 50 ft. shop grew to the size of 90 ft. by 240 ft. The idea of Red Grover resulted in Harogators shipped all over the country including; Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Canada, and even Brazil. In the early years of production, Red, Helen and Red’s brother, Glenn, built the Harogators in the evening in the shop after it had closed. Word spread fast among farmers about the new farm implement. The Grover’s only employed two salesmen. The salesman, Glenn Floyd, lives in Findlay, and Glenn Oberhouse of Luckey, traveled extensively. The Grover’s used suggestions from the farmers to develop the Harogator. Farmers made suggestions such as using clamped teeth instead of the welded teeth that were first being used. Very little advertising was needed, the Harogator sold itself. Many local men were employed to build the Harogator. Helen was employed as the office manager and at times had to work on the assembly line. Helen explains; “I helped put in teeth and U-bolts right along with the men, sometimes, the house just had to suffer.” Red’s ideas along with the help of the local farmers, proved to be quite profitable. Throughout this period of expansion, however, the Grover’s never forgot the most important element of their business – the farmer. “There is a feeling that you get when you build something a farmer needs, a feeling of responsibility to do all you can to help, and that’s what we tried to accomplish,” was a statement made by Red Grover. In addition to building Harogator tools, he also continued to help farmers with their repair work until he retired and sold the business to Unverferth – McCurdy of Kalida, Ohio in 1979. As quoted in “CLOSE-UPS” (an Unverferth employee publication Spring 1980) Red stated, “I sold the business because I just got tired of the pressure, but my wife and I have no regrets. We enjoyed the business and we enjoyed our employees – you just can’t ask for more than that.” The Grover home was a small home, which sat next to the Welding Shop. Besides their three girls they also took care and had living with them both of their mothers and a grandmother – a full house! In 1975 they built a much larger, lovely home on River Rd. outside of Pemberville. Their daughter stated that Helen did not want to move to the bigger home. The Grover’s also owned a cottage on the lake. Red and daughter, Alma Grace, enjoyed fishing from their boat as often as time would allow. Helen laughed when asked if she fished. She replied, “No, I just cooked what they caught.” Red also took some local friends out with him fishing and as was stated by Helen, “a good time was had by all.” Both Helen and Red had health problems in their later years. They spent winters in their home in Florida. On one trip to Florida, Red suffered a heart attack and survived surgery in Florence, Kentucky. They enjoyed their winters in Florida, as their health would allow. After surviving heart problems, Red was stricken with cancer and died in 2000. Helen continues to winter in Florida along with her daughter Alma and Alma’s husband Mel. [Helen died 5 Sep 2011 after the writing of this article.] The Grover Legacy continues in the Luckey Area from many philanthropic benefits. Our local Friends of the Library group are especially appreciative of all of the help extended by the Grover family in establishing our own town library. The Grover’s have donated funds for; fire department equipment, Troy Twp. EMS, town holiday decorations, playground equipment at the Luckey School, scholarship funds, stage curtains for the High School, Future Farmers of America, Eastwood Arts Council, supporting their home church, Faith United Methodist of Luckey and many more. Red and Helen Grover – a name and family to celebrate in Luckey’s past present and future.