File:"People from Price County, Wisconsin".jpg

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Leo Heikkinen


English: Leo Heikkinen inventor of the world famous Prentice knuckleboom loader in Prentice, Wisconsin
Date 1960s
date QS:P,+1960-00-00T00:00:00Z/8

Dale Heikkinen Prentice Wisconsin

Previously published: Leo Heikkinen website:
Author Flyingfinn1944


Prentice Hydraulics had its beginning in 1945 in the Heikkinen Machine Shop located on Highway 13 a short distance south of the village. In August of that year, with a strong desire to go into business for himself and encouragement from his brothers, Leo Heikkinen opened a one-man repair shop. His wife, Norma, took care of the bookkeeping duties.

For several years the shop operated in the repair and welding of heavy equipment, in steel fabrication, in the sale and repair of chain saws, and in the manufacture of mechanical jammers.

The small-town location helped to eliminate certain "red tape," and by working for himself, Leo had the opportunity to carry through on his own ideas with a minimum of interference.

The time came when individuals wanted special innovations on their jammers, and during the first year of operations, an idea for a "custom job" was put into construction. This new type of jammer attracted the attention of a number of forest product handlers and there were many requests for custom built machines. Through improvement and modification of the mechanical jammer, evolution took place, and resulted in the Prentice Hydraulic Loader.

In 1955 new vistas had opened and the shop had a payroll of three to six men to meet at any given time. In the next year the forest industry was met head on, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, by the shop's only salesman, Leo Heikkinen. Orders came back for five loaders. More men were needed and more space was necessary. By the fall of 1956, the move was made to the old Creamery building, which contained over 7,000 square feet of space.

By the end of 1963, gross sales had soared over the one million mark, and by the end of the following year had reached almost two million. Employment was also climbing, totaling 100 by the end of 1964. Plant space had grown by more than six times what it had been in 1959. A broad and versatile line of hydraulic loading and unloading equipment for use in pulpwood, logging, concrete products, fruit, oil, and many other industries had been added to make PRENTICE one of the leaders in the materials handling field.

In 1965 the gross sales boomed again to over 3.3 million dollars. Employment was over the 170 mark, and community enthusiasm picked up as the area once designated by the government as a depressed area was now recovered and removed from the"list".

Plant space, employee numbers, gross sales, and total assets continued to grow at an amazing pace and by the end of 1966, 295 employees were on the payroll. Dealerships had been expanded to over sixty, with numerous salesmen working out of the dealerships, providing sales amounting to six and a quarter million dollars, with total assets reaching 2.7 million.

In February, the latest addition to the plant provided excellent engineering space and facilities and increased total plant space to 75,000 sq. ft.

At the present time, four shops make up the facilities of Prentice Hydraulics, Inc. The largest, Plant #1, covers over 50,000 sq. ft., is serviced by a railroad siding, and contains complete machine and fabricating facilities, plus a master parts room, paint shop, engineering department, shipping department and assembly room. Plant #2 is used primarily for small loader and component fabricating and assembly. Plant #3 is utilized as a special grapple department, and Plant #4 as a Research and Development shop providing new equipment for the ever expanding material handling field.

In July 1967, Leo Heikkinen entered an agreement to be acquired by OMARK Industries of Portland, Oregon, in order to maintain the rapid growth structure that is so necessary to remain a leader in the competitive hydraulic loader field.

Other information
English: Leo Leonard Heikkinen Memorial

Leo Leonard Heikkinen was born on June 11, 1917 and raised on a dairy farm in Brantwood, Wisconsin with his six brothers and three sisters. What they didn't have financially, they made up for with love, creativity and hard work. Leo reminisces that as soon as you were old enough, you had your chores to do. For fun, they fished with homemade fishing poles, made their toys and at Christmas it was a treat to receive 1/2 an apple, hand-knitted socks and wool mitten liners.

As a young boy, when Leo was to go to grade school, they had to drag him out from under the table. Some of his first lessons were to learn the English language as his parents spoke Finnish almost exclusively. After high school, Leo married sweetheart, Norma Pokela, and moved to Milwaukee to work in a machine shop, where his starting wage was 33 cents an hour. They now have 4 married children and 11 grandchildren.

After returning to the area, Leo started Heikkinen Machine Shop...armed with a brilliant mind and forever tinkering with things, he changed the course of history with the invention of the Prentice hydraulic loader. His countless contributions to industry and the community are because of the pride and love he had of his hometown and the people who reside there.

Most people remember Leo for his energy, ambition, vision and ingenuity. Anyone who has known him knows that his mind and hands never stopped working, creating, fixing and building. In addition, he loved golfing, fishing, boating, watching sports and news, and spending time with friends and family. Our most favorite memories are his mischievous pranks and jokes, his sense of humor, his love for unique toys and gag gifts, his laughter and his zest for life.

Leo's contagious spirit of giving, his "build it better than it needs to be" philosophy and "the harder you work, the luckier you get" attitude are testaments to how he lived and worked. He has poured his heart and soul into making his little piece of the world a better place for everyone.

Rebecca Susan (Heikkinen) Johnson Leo’s Granddaughter

Appleton, Wisconsin


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current19:33, 14 June 2019Thumbnail for version as of 19:33, 14 June 2019641 × 914 (216 KB)Sebastian Wallroth (talk | contribs)Cropped 1 % vertically using CropTool with lossless mode. Removed border.
19:28, 14 July 2013Thumbnail for version as of 19:28, 14 July 2013641 × 921 (215 KB)Flyingfinn1944 (talk | contribs)Leo Heikkinen President Prentice Hydraulics Incorporated
19:28, 14 July 2013Thumbnail for version as of 19:28, 14 July 2013641 × 921 (215 KB)Flyingfinn1944 (talk | contribs)Leo Heikkinen President Prentice Hydraulics Incorporated
18:54, 14 July 2013Thumbnail for version as of 18:54, 14 July 2013733 × 917 (180 KB)Flyingfinn1944 (talk | contribs){{subst:Upload marker added by en.wp UW}} {{Information |Description = {{en|Leo Heikkinen inventor of the world famous Prentice knuckleboom loader in Prentice, Wisconsin}} |Source = Village pf Prentice<br/> '''Previously published:''' Leo Heikkinen web...

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