Unverferth Manufacturing Facility in Lexington Nebraska

About Us

The Beginning

Orthman Manufacturing began in the mid-1960’s by Henry Orthman, who was a farmer himself, searching for better solutions for his family’s operation in Lexington, Nebraska.

Initially, Henry developed a 3-point hitch conversion for his center-mounted sugar beet implements. This innovation took advantage of the added performance and convenience of the rear 3-point hitch being used on many tractors without investing in new equipment. The neighboring farmers saw the productivity of this conversion for their under belly-mounted tools and the business was born! The innovative hitch earned a patent in 1967 and sales continued growing.

Originally the conversion hitches were painted to match the tractor brand, but Henry wanted to create awareness of the Orthman product and sought to create his own unique color. His wife, Wilma, loved different shades of green so they kept mixing yellow into green tractor paint until it got to the shade she liked the best and the present-day Orthman green was born and used ever since!

Early Innovations

Additional product innovations in those early years included bale movers, a barbed wire fence roller and tomato cages. It was the 3-point conversion, though, that carried the business into the 1970’s.

The first complete row crop cultivator was built in the 1970s and brought Orthman into the tillage and toolbar markets. The cultivator featured a large diameter hollow toolbar with patented internal hydraulic folding mechanism. Most implements in that era featured solid steel toolbars which tended to flex. Additional toolbar attachments, such as gauge wheels and row markers, were also brought into the mix.

Growing with Family

Henry’s son, Bill, took the reins of the day-to-day operations in 1978 and continued growing the company’s products and dealer network. Henry remained active in product development for quite some time until his passing in 2002. Henry brought innovation and new product developments to the agricultural market, including 25 additional patents over his lifetime.

The company continued building upon tillage innovations with its toolbar design and included other tillage equipment throughout the 1970s and 80s. In addition to the row crop cultivator, the lineup evolved into other complete tillage products with bedding, ridge-till and other styles of tillage equipment.

The 90s also saw the introduction of the stack-folding toolbar that kept attachments, such as planter boxes, level for easier transport. It soon became a hit for Orthman products and gained recognition with tractor manufacturers who immediately saw the use for their own planters.

The New Millenium

In 2000, having no heirs to take over the company, Bill Orthman sold the company to John McCoy, the company’s marketing and sales manager, while Bill remained active in the business. Shortly thereafter, the SoilMover lineup from Automatic Equipment in Pender, Nebraska was purchased, adding scrapers to the Orthman product mix.

In 2001, Orthman introduced the innovative 1tRIPr strip-tillage tool which has evolved and continues leading that market segment today.

In 2004, the Quinstar fallow tillage lineup was purchased and folded into the Orthman lineup as the Fallow Master and Blade Plow. Under John’s leadership, the company continued growing in the new millennium and built another manufacturing facility near the interstate on the edge of Lexington. This facility opened in 2016 to handle the increased demand.

An Exciting Future

In February 2023, the Orthman agricultural product line and manufacturing facilities in Nebraska were sold to Unverferth Manufacturing, a family-owned farm equipment manufacturer based in Kalida, Ohio. This transition ensures the Orthman brand will continue the long-time tradition of bringing farming innovations to the marketplace and will build high-quality, heavy-duty equipment for years to come. The Henry Orthman home place and Frontier manufacturing locations continue designing and building Orthman and other Unverferth product brands to this day.

Truly A Tough Act To Follow