Term: Four-Wheel Drive Auto Company
Definition: The Badger Four-Wheel Drive Auto Company was founded in Clintonville, Wisconsin in 1909. The name was changed to the Four-Wheel Drive Auto Company in 1910, and in 1958 to the FWD Corporation. The company presently (2009) designs, manufactures and markets multi-drive and heavy-duty vehicles, such as fire-fighting trucks, tractor-drawn aerials, and chassis, with offices in Richmond, Virginia, Ontario, Canada, and Clintonville, Wis.
Company founders Otto Zachow and William Besserdich were established owners of a machine shop in Clintonville when Otto developed the first simple and effective design for transferring power to all four wheels of an automobile. Patents were secured and money raised locally to organize the company, but production difficulties and delays nearly ended it. With the help and guidance of Clintonville attorney Walter A. Olen, the company was reorganized, funds raised, and the emphasis switched from manufacturing automobiles to trucks. A 1912 U.S. Army test of trucks as replacements for mules and wagons gave the company its first major publicity, and the outbreak of World War I opened new markets in Europe and the United States.
After the war the company moved into new products including highway building and maintenance equipment, earth-moving machinery, and fire trucks. World War II once more brought increased markets and prosperity to the company. In more recent years the company has changed hands and in 2009 operates as a subsidiary of the Corsta Corporation of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Four Wheel Drive Foundation maintains a museum in Clintonville.
[Source: Sources: Howard Troyer, "The Four Wheel Drive Story" (McGraw-Hill, 1954); "FWD Corporation Private Business Information" http://investing.businessweek.com/
"Four Wheel Drive Foundation" http://www.museumsusa.org/museums/info/1159208]