Versatile’s history as a brand dates back to the mid-1940s in a Toronto backyard.
That’s where Peter Pakosh in 1945 developed a new type of grain auger, as described in Versatile Tractors: A Farm Boy’s Dream, a 2003 coffee table book by Pakosh’s grandson Jarrod.
The elder Pakosh’s company expanded into field sprayers and harrow drawbars and gave them the Versatile brand name in 1947.
Pakosh and partner Roy Robinson moved the entire company to Winnipeg by 1952, later entering the pull-type combine market and, in 1966, the fledgling four-wheel-drive tractor market.
Buhler chief operating officer Grant Adolph said Pakosh and Robinson developed the first mass-produced 4-WD tractor in the world, devoting an assembly line to them while Deere, Ford and other manufacturers viewed 4-WDs as a fad. “Versatile was the one that really started building them in quantity.”
The company was bought out by Vancouver’s Cornat Industries in 1977, then again in 1987 by Ford’s tractor division, which merged the operation with its Sperry New Holland acquisition, creating what became Ford New Holland.
The Versatile brand all but disappeared beneath the Ford logo on the new tractor lines, then again under the New Holland logo when Fiat bought Ford New Holland in 1993.
But the Versatile name became larger, albeit beneath the Buhler logo, when Case IH and New Holland merged into CNH in 2000 and sold the Versatile tractor division to Buhler Industries to meet federal antitrust requirements.
Buhler this month marks its first year under the ownership of Combine Factory Rostselmash, which bought a controlling stake in the publicly traded company in late 2007. Rostselmash’s network of over 200 dealers in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan has since carried Buhler Versatile tractors.
Just before Rostselmash took over the firm in 2007, Buhler celebrated the production of its 50,000th 4-WD tractor. Adolph said the Buhler tractor plant in 2009 will produce its 100,000th unit, counting all 2-WD and 4-WD models.