Big-John Tree Manufacturing, Inc.

Durable: BIG JOHN Tree Transplanters feature all welded construction, top quality steel, and hydraulic components engineered to stand up to the most rigorous tree moving conditions. Simple: One person can easily operate the largest BIG JOHN Tree Transplanter from a manual valve bank or through a remote valve bank and camera system. Proven: For 39 years, BIG JOHN has built and delivered quality tree transplanting equipment designed to last. Over the years, long-term relationships with generations of dedicated BIG JOHN users resulted in product improvements and the active research and developments at BIG JOHN today. BIG JOHN Mfg. in Heber Springs, Arkansas represents Canada and The USA. With offices all over the world and a sales staff that is committed to customer satisfaction, Big John and Dorian Drake together will continue to expand the Big John brand; with the constant pursuit of customer satisfaction worldwide.

Company details

PO Box 960 , Heber Springs , Arkansas 72543 USA

Locations Served

Our Distributors

Business Type:
Industry Type:
Agriculture - Forestry
Market Focus:
Globally (various continents)


John May invented and patented a treespade with curvilinear towers and four spoon shaped blades, which was the foundation of a very valuable patent. This innovation makes it possible for a tree to be removed from one site and then transplanted at a new site positioned at any angle of display. This was possible thanks to the circular hole that these four spoon shaped blades achieve. The sequence of the digging procedure of the four spoon shaped blades are responsible for anchoring the machine on the ground while the digging takes place.

John May, owner of May Manufacturing approached the late Tucker Blankenship and his son Charles Blankenship in November 1975. May Manufacturing was sold to The Blankenships and BIG JOHN Tree Transplanter Manufacturing Inc. was formed January 21, 1976. Many endeavors were to come from that November 1975 meeting and the original President & CEO, Charles Blankenship, had many plans for his new corporation. The first tree transplanter manufactured under the BIG JOHN banner was the Model 78. The Model 78′s nomenclature was derived from the diameter of its rootball and was capable of digging nine-inch caliper trees. The Model 78 led BIG JOHN into the inspiration of manufacturing multiple models and sizes of tree transplanters.

After consulting with many different engineers and various people, BIG JOHN made no progress on their new idea. Tucker Blankenship then recommended to his son, Charles, to discuss his new plan with John May. John May was later hired at BIG JOHN to design and build some additional sizes and models of prototypes of tree transplanters and supervise the production and operation of the company. John May’s first project at the request of Charles Blankenship was to design a smaller machine.

John May’s enthusiasm led him to the creation of a working prototype of the Model 50 in less than four months. The Model 50 was capable of digging five-inch caliper trees. The Model 50 is no longer manufactured at BIG JOHN; however, its creation was the stepping stone for Charles Blankenship’s idea to build the biggest machine of that time within legal requirements. Ninety days later John May presented a working prototype of the Model 88 to Mr. Blankenship. The Model 88 was capable of digging a twelve-inch caliper tree.

John May then suggested BIG JOHN build a model between the Model 78 and 50. Mr. Blankenship approved his idea and about ninety days later John May had once again accomplished another milestone for the company, which was then termed the Model 60. This machine was capable of digging a six-inch caliper tree. John May then recommended trailer mounted machines be produced. This idea led to the production of the trailer-mounted machines currently manufactured at BIG JOHN today. Trailer mounted machines are sold frequently to governmental agencies, municipalities, and universities in order to allow them to operate a tree transplanter without confining a truck chassis.

In 1984 different model numbers were assigned to the early day Models 50,60,78, and 88, A larger gate opening known at BIG JOHN as “The Wide Mouth” was designed. This new feature pioneered the name change for the models. This new attribute enabled an operator of a transplanter to position the unit around larger trees with full lower branches. This mechanism also improved the visibility for an operator of a transplanter and allowed for less pruning of branches during the transplanting process. The new Models are known currently as Models 45D, 55D, 65D, 8OD, and 90D. The Model 45D was created to transplant four-inch caliper trees.

Throughout the years, various customers and members of the BIG JOHN family have recommended ideas to improve the BIG JOHN Tree Transplanter. Some of these ideas have been implemented into the production of present day machines while others faded away. However, BIG JOHN strives to make the best machines on the market and customer satisfaction is a chosen priority.

During the 8O’s, small loader mounted transplanters were designed. These transplanters are mounted to various types of skidsteer loaders and BIG JOHN currently manufactures a full line of larger loader-mounted models. Also during this time, an idea was presented to build a version of the Model 90 to primarily transplant pecan trees. The Model 90 was redesigned mainly focusing on adding back the traditional gate-opening feature along with numerous other changes in the basic structure. Thus, the Model 90AG was born. The letters “AG”, the red color, and other features set this model apart from the yellow contractors Model 90. This particular transplanter is presently a popular unit used by pecan and several other nut tree growers.

In the late 80′s successful international expansion reigned for BIG JOHN. During this time, pod trailers and freestanding pods were at the beginning of their development. These machines are used to transport multiple numbers of trees at the same time. The free-standing pods are very useful for temporary storage of rootballs and trees on the job site. Numerous other developments continued rapidly in the late 80′s and throughout the 90′s to improve the transplanter as well.

Currently, The BIG JOHN Family is working on new ideas and improvements to sustain its position as the leader in the manufacturing of tree transplanting and transporting equipment.