The history of Gradall as a company and as a product can be traced to two brothers, Ray and Koop Ferwerda, who emigrated from Holland to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1920. They immediately found work with construction of commercial and residential building projects in northeast Ohio, and by 1925, they started the Ferwerda Brothers Construction Co., involved in the building of roads and bridges, installing water and sewer lines, and building site preparation. With their work with road construction, they were challenged -- like all contractors -- with the use of hand labor using shovels, rakes and pikes to finish grade roadside embankments. Gradall name has been known world-wide for quality, innovation and versatility, producing exceptional machines for governments and private contractors as well as for mines, metal mills and even the firefighting industry.
This situation led the Ferwerda brothers to use their ingenuity to design a machine to do this type of work more efficiently. That machine was the Gradall®.
In November 1941, Ray and Koop sold a portion of their equipment to rent a garage in Beachwood, Ohio, and buy equipment to make their grading machine. The brothers asked two Cleveland contractors who they worked for to be partners in the making of the grading machine.
Those contractors were Ralph Werba of Werba & Long Construction Co. and Donald Finlay of Donald Finlay & Sons Construction Co. With the assistance of their partners, the brothers formed a manufacturing company called the FWF Corp. (Ferwerda, Werba and Finlay). With the necessary money in the bank, the brothers went to work.