In 1946, Robert B. Daugherty began looking for a good business opportunity. He recognized the potential of a small manufacturing company on a farm just west of Valley, NE, owned by an inventor named Sam McCleneghan. After careful consideration, Daugherty invested $5,000 - nearly his entire life savings - in Valley Manufacturing and began building farm elevators.
In 1947, Frank Zybach developed a prototype center pivot irrigation machine. In the years that followed, he modified and refined the design to improve operational efficiency and, in 1954, licensed his patent to Robert Daugherty. Our engineers spent the next decade refining Zybach's innovation - making it sturdier, taller and more reliable - and converting it from a hydraulic power system to electric drive.
We began to manufacture steel pipe and tubing for irrigation equipment in 1959 and saw an opportunity to develop markets throughout the United States for original equipment manufacturers, steel service centers, and public and private projects.
In the 1960s, Valley Manufacturing became Valmont Industries, Inc., to help differentiate our company from others similarly named throughout the United States. We also saw the first international sale in the 60s to a dealer in Lyon, France. In 1969, we began hot-dip galvanization of our Water Drive, as a continuous improvement endeavor.
During the 70s, we began developing overseas markets, which formed Valmont International. Rubber tires and the gear drive were included with the introduction of the Standard Electric and the Long Span Electric in 1974. That was a busy year, as we unveiled the first corner option for center pivots to the mechanized irrigation industry, which gave farmers the opportunity to irrigate additional acres. Another industry first occurred in this decade - the Valley gearbox began production in Valley, NE. We introduced the Low Pressure Water Drive, which promoted water and energy savings. The 2-Wheel E-Z Towable, the Standard Span Slurry, and the "Little Fielder" linear created additional uses for mechanized irrigation equipment.
In the 1980s, we integrated computers into modern farming practice and revealed another significant breakthrough: the cams™ Management System, which enables growers to quickly and confidently program and monitor their equipment to automatically accomplish a full range of irrigation, chemigation, and fertilization functions based on different variables. The Valmonitor was introduced - unique in remote, computer-aided, irrigation scheduling. Recognizing that the equipment dealers were working hard and already selling customers on using computers, we established ValCom Microcomputer as a division in 1982. Also in the 80s, we introduced the Linear (Rainger) System and Universal Linear with ditch or hose feed to give our growers an irrigation choice for irregular field situations. Low pressure sprinklers were also introduced, as was the 6000 series center pivot, which provided multiple span and pipe sizes to meet the growing needs of farmers.
The need for galvanizing grew in the 1990s, and our facility in Valley was at capacity meeting internal demands. So, we built new galvanizing plants in West Point, NE, and Tulsa, OK, enabling us to meet other manufacturers' needs for protective coatings. We have continued to add galvanizing operations in the U.S. and worldwide to help fulfill internal galvanization needs and, simultaneously, respond to increasing global demand for protective coatings. In 1990, the North American Irrigation and International Irrigation segments were combined to form Valmont Irrigation. Also in the 90s, we introduced the Valley Controls™ Pro Panel and Valley Controls™ Base Station, both of which laid the groundwork for increasing pivot control from the panel and from home. The 4-Wheel E-Z Tow was developed, allowing for easier towing of a center pivot. Our industry exclusive modular control panel design made upgrading easy as technology advanced. PolySpan® was introduced as a premier corrosive water solution.
In 1993, Mogens Bay became Chairman and CEO of Valmont Industries, Inc., and made it a priority to rationalize the Company's portfolio and industry leadership – divesting it of any businesses not tightly aligned with Valmont’s core strengths in infrastructure and agriculture. He also began to concertedly invest in those strengths through global expansion.
We unveiled the Valley 8000 series center pivot, which gave growers yet another irrigation option, and introduced the Valley Precision Corner®. In 1996, we released the Valley LEN Spray sprinkler. Remote pivot control increased with Remote Link.
A series of acquisitions in Europe and expansion of facilities in China, plus entrance into South America in 1997, South Africa in 1999, and the Middle East soon thereafter, greatly enhanced our international presence. Stainless Steel emerged on the market to provide growers with a solution to fit their needs and operations. By 2004, we had opened a total of six manufacturing facilities worldwide, signed up dealers in 40 countries, and sold equipment to growers in more than 100 countries. Also in 2004, we celebrated our 50th Anniversary and released the Valley Tracker remote communication product line.
Our Pocket Pro Kyocera phone/PDA put center pivot control our customers' hands from potentially anywhere in the world. We introduced the Valley DualSpan™, a versatile center pivot to help meet the needs of specialty crop producers. Our 7000 series center pivot was released to give growers an economical irrigation option for their fields.
In 2008, we unveiled GPS Position for center pivots. Our patented GPS Ready control panels allow for GPS Position calculations to be made in the panel, rather than on a separate, external computer. In 2009, we launched the 5000 series center pivot to give growers with smaller fields a premier irrigation option.
2010 was a big year for us! Our patented GPS Guidance product for corners and linears made its way to the global market, which eliminated the need for buried wire guidance. We released the Bender30, an option for center pivots that allows growers to irrigate additional land by bending their center pivot around a tree line, building, or other obstacle. Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) for center pivots was introduced, the ultimate precision irrigation product that allows growers to adjust the amount of water applied to their field by either sector (VRI Speed Control) or zone (VRI Zone Control). Our first touch technology product, the Valley TouchPro control panel, was launched to make panel programming easier. Valmont Irrigation China opened its doors in Beijing, which started the process of developing a new market for the Valley brand.
The Bender160 for center pivots was introduced, which allows a center pivot to bend up to 160 degrees in either or both directions to irrigate land previously missed due to obstacles in the field. We also entered the social media realm with the Valley Twitterfeed and Valley YouTubeChannel for brand awareness and education.
We launched the Valley Facebook page, which allows our customers, employees, and fans to connect with our brand in ways they have never been able to before! We also became the first center pivot irrigation company to launch a mobile version of its website to reach audiences using smartphones. Our award-winning Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) was introduced as a feature of the Pro2 control panel. The introduction of a new TrackNET™ family of web-based irrigation management products offers more options, including the TrackerPro, for monitoring and managing irrigation equipment from mobile devices.Valley Water Management (VWM) is formed to provide custom-engineered, high-efficiency pumping stations. The DropSpan™ is unveiled, allowing growers to drop the outer spans of a center pivot to continue irrigating acres behind obstacles.
Multiple products are introduced in 2013, beginning with VRI QuickStart Prescriptions – a customized water application prescription preloaded in new Select2 and Pro2 control panels. The completely customizable VFlex™ Corner is released, offering growers more features and options than any corner on the market. Valley Water Management launched Pump Connect™ to automate the pumps that supply water to irrigation equipment, eliminating time-consuming trips to pump sites or expensive trenching to install wires. BaseStation3™, the most innovative irrigation management product on the market, made its debut, pushing monitoring and control technology to the next level. To keep up with the growing demand for our exclusive, made-in-the-USA gearbox, we built a new gearbox facility in Waverly, NE. We also redesigned our website to better serve our customers with the latest navigation practices and in-depth product information. A partnership with Canada-based Farmers Edge was developed to provide irrigation equipment and agricultural management services to farmers in Europe and Asia.
A new, top-tier Premier designation was added to our Valley Dealer Performance Program to recognize the absolute best of the best among our dealers. AquaDock™ drop hose docking stations are introduced, supporting two ground clearances in one drop hose assembly. Three new options are added to the VFlex Corner – electronic sprinkler sequencing, an additional corner length and an inverted corner – to give growers exactly what they need to irrigate additional acres. Valley Water Management partnered with Yaskawa™ America to provide the most advanced variable frequency drives for VWM pump stations. Valmont Industries acquired a majority interest in South Dakota-based AgSense to further extend our industry-leading offerings in remote monitoring and control technology for agriculture. With technology continuing to play a key role in agriculture, we developed Irrigation Exchange® to share precision irrigation data with other ag companies to facilitate data-driven decisions and simplify irrigation management.
In 2015, Valley introduced Irrigation Exchange, which provides a seamless exchange of information between BaseStation3 and third-party management systems. 2015 also brought the release of the Revolution™ Airless Tire, a rugged, durable tire that features a well-proven aperture design and eliminates problems with flats. AgSense and Valley unveiled the CommanderVP®, an exclusive product that enables connectivity between Valley digital control panels and AgSense. In 2016, the Valley, Neb., production site for Valley Irrigation was recognized as a Groundwater Guardian Green Site by the Groundwater Foundation.
We introduced the Valley ICON® line of smart panels, giving growers intuitive control of new and existing center pivot irrigation machines. All ICON panels come with ICON Link: AgSense is built in, allowing for convenient remote management of pivots. Additionally, ICON1 and ICON10 provide Wi-Fi access to the panel via the ICON app. In the fall of 2017, we released the Valley X-Tec® drive, delivering up to twice the speed of standard, high-speed AC motors, with full torque at any speed. Also in 2017, the Valley Irrigation Run Time™ mobile app was made available to growers to eliminate hand-written center pivot run time calculations.
In 2018, we launched Valley Scheduling™ globally. Valley Scheduling is advanced management software enabling growers to make more informed, data-driven irrigation decisions. Working together with an agronomy expert, growers enter information about soil, crop type, development stage and weather conditions. Then Valley Scheduling calculates irrigation recommendations, providing them in an easy-to-understand schedule accessible on any smartphone, tablet or computer.
Valley also released an updated, web-based application for our VRI-iS (individual sprinkler) to growers worldwide this year. VRI-iS is the most advanced VRI option available, giving growers control of individual sprinklers for optimal control of water application. With this web-based solution accessible via AgSense, users can quickly and easily import shape files and sprinkler package data to create prescriptions. GPS position then accurately controls water application depth changes, dividing the field into sectors every 0.1 degrees.