The Early Cushman Years
In 1901 cousins Everett and Clinton Cushman began constructing farm machinery and two-cycle boat engines in Lincoln, Nebraska. Businessman Everett Sawyer joined the company in 1909, and production shifted to farm engines. In 1913 the company incorporated as the Cushman Motor Works and built a foundry at Twenty-first and X streets, its present location.
By World War I, farmers were using Cushman two- and four-horsepower engines to operate water pumps, cream separators, washing machines, feed grinders, concrete mixers, wood saws, and generators. In 1918 Cushman opened a plant in Canada that proved to be unsuccessful, and by 1927 Cushman Motor Works was owned by a management company.
The Ammon Family at the Helm
The Easy Manufacturing Company, owned by father and son John and Charles Ammon, merged with Cushman in 1934. The firm made farm implements in Lincoln and had previously purchased castings from Cushman.
In 1935 a youngster in search of spare parts brought a scooter to the Cushman plant. Powered by an old Cushman washing machine motor, the scooter intrigued owner Charles Ammon, who thought it might make an ideal product. The first Cushman motor scooter came out in 1936, and sales boomed.
During World War II, Cushman produced scooters for the Navy, the Army, and the Army Air Forces. Cushman also manufactured a special airborne model scooter designed to be dropped by parachute to troops behind enemy lines. The company's three-wheeled delivery vehicles were also in demand by the military and for industrial use.
In 1950 the Cushman plant expanded to 250,000 square feet. After converting to assembly line principles, the plant was able to produce ten thousand scooters per year, along with Husky air-cooled engines and Cub water-cooled engines.
Cushman joins the Outboard Marine Family
The Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) acquired all of Cushman's capital stock in 1957, and made Cushman a division of the corporation in 1962. The company developed improved versions of two-wheeled scooters and three-wheeled commercial and industrial vehicles, including the Truckster, Haulster, and Turf-Truckster. Ryan Equipment Company of St. Paul, Minnesota, a manufacturer of turf maintenance equipment, joined OMC in 1969.
In 1989 Ransomes of Great Britain purchased the Cushman division from OMC. More recently, Textron, Incorporated, acquired Ransomes and Cushman became a division of Textron. Through the years Cushman went through many changes of ownership, name, and products, but continued production at the original Lincoln location.
On the Job at Cushman
Workers relate stories of the plant, it's many departments and working conditions.
A Steady Job with a Good Future
To fully grasp the importance of a job at Cushman - to the employees and to the community of Lincoln - listen to the workers and their experiences, marked again and again by unimagined opportunities for upward mobility through 20, 30, even 40-year careers.
Cushman as a Family
At least as early as the 1950s, the company promoted a family atmosphere. As longtime Cushman employees reflected on their days at the company, they interlaced their descriptions of hard, hot, dirty work with an overwhelming sense of the workplace as a surrogate family. Often, it was also a place filled with actual family.
1912 advertisement for a Cushman 4-horsepower farm engine.
Advertising brochure for Cushman's lightweight engines.
NSHS Museum 11055-2004-1
The University of Nebraska used this cut-away demonstrator of a Cushman Model C gas engine, patented in 1911, for instruction in the mechanical engineering laboratory.
NSHS Museum 7565-233
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