Gillison are now offering three locations to better serve our customers. We are proudly celebrating over 30 years of our manufacturing and service business in the agriculture industry. Some of the equipment we manufacture includes: orchard topping-hedging equipment, orbit lift pruning towers, a fruit and nut harvester, rough terrain forklifts and Sonic Spray. Check out our products page for more information. Gillison`s also offers: a complete machine shop, computer aided design, fabrication, a high definition burning center, welding by certified welders, hydraulic component repairs, and in-house and mobile service by trained and experienced service technicians. That realization led to the ever-expanding line of top quality, rugged machinery Gillison’s designs and builds for farmers in over 70 countries worldwide.
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- Globally (various continents)
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Ron and Dianne Gillison, with Ron’s father Rodney and with fresh university degrees (Ron from Michigan State in Agriculture, Dianne from Northwestern Michigan College in Business Administration), opened the doors to Gillison’s Variety Fabrication in Benzonia, Michigan in 1977.
A Sturdy Idea
Not long after, engineers from Michigan State asked Ron to build them a newly designed hedger that would offer safer pruning of fruit trees. Ron adapted a flywheel design he’d seen used on Singer sewing machines for the drive system on the hedger, and thus was born the first GVF custom farm machine. Ron, a lifelong farmer himself, realized that wherever there was a gap in farm equipment capability, he could engineer a solution to fill that gap, and with his sharp eye for rugged quality, improve the lives of other farmers like himself.
Recognition from the Agriculture Industry
Ron and Dianne were honored with the Michigan State Horticultural Society’s Industrial Service Award in 2001 for Gillison’s tireless innovation and support of the agricultural industry year in and year out.
Four Decades Later, Still a Family Business
Ron and Dianne’s eldest son Matt joined the company in 2003 with a degree from Ferris State University in Heavy Equipment Service Engineering Technology. Four years later their youngest son, Craig, joined the company full time to focus on domestic and international sales.
Dedicated to Success and Stronger than Ever!
Today Gillison’s employs more than forty technicians, designers, salespeople, business staff, machine operators, and other agricultural visionaries all on the same mission to make Gillison customers the best equipped farmers in the world.
Ron, Dianne and Rodney Gillison started Gillison’s Variety Fabrication as a family business in 1977. Ron has a degree from Michigan State University’s agricultural program and Dianne has a Business Administration degree from Northwestern Michigan College. In 1979, engineers from MSU asked Ron to build a hedger they had designed for safer pruning of fruit trees. MSU and Gillison’s developed a flywheel drive system for the hedger that was an adaptation of a Singer Sewing Machine. That hedger is what put Gillison’s into business, thus launching them into producing the various orchard equipment they do today.
In 1986 Gillison’s opened a second location in Traverse City at 1515 Woodmere. Bill Gillison, Ron’s brother, has headed that store since the day it opened. At that time Gillison’s was servicing about 150 cherry harvesters in the Northern Michigan cherry growing region. Opening a second location in Traverse City to better serve customers made sense.
When Gillison’s Variety Fabrication first began thirty years ago, about 80% of business was local. These days it is quite the opposite. Gillison’s has broadened their market and in the process made local sales about 50% of overall. Currently, Gillison’s dealers of GVF equipment in the US are located in Georgia, Oklahoma, California, Washington and Oregon. Gillison’s also employs a full time sales representative located in Porterville, CA.
One of Gillison’s patented manufactured products is a Hydropneumatic Elutriation System. This machine, another MSU project, separates root samples from soil samples, allowing researchers to take accurate readings of either one. These machines can be found in 36 countries and in many universities in the US and around the world.
Other products manufactured by Gillison’s include Orbit Lift Pruning Towers (12’, 16’, 20’ & 25’), various Orchard Hedgers, a Grape Hedger with Cane Positioning, Grape and Orchard Spray Towers, a Tree Planter, Brush Rakes, a Double Incline Fruit and Nut Harvester, Covered Weed Spray Booms and Rotospray Spray Heads.
Manufacturing isn’t all that Gillison’s does either. Gillison’s currently represents 16 quality product lines including brands such as Massey Fergusson, Hesston, Sunflower, and Bush Hog. Gillison’s has also been a dealer since 1982 of OMC Shockwave Shakers out of Yuba City, California and are their largest dealer in the country.
In 2001, Ron and Dianne were presented with the Michigan State Horticultural Society’s Industrial Service Award. This award was the first of its kind ever given by the MSHS. The January 2001 Fruit Growers wrote, “The couple has built a well respected horticultural support business over the last 23 years.” Ron currently serves on the Massey Ferguson National Dealer Panel. Since 2000 Dianne has served on the Honor State Bank Board.
In 2003, Matt Gillison, Ron and Dianne’s oldest son, graduated from Ferris State University and was working for Gillison’s by the end of that year. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Heavy Equipment Service Engineering Technology. Matt is in charge of all manufacturing and service at the Benzonia location. Since Matt has been on board Gillison’s has been able to add an All Terrain Fork Lift, a Double Topper-Hedger, a Forward Bin Dumper and a Tree Grapple to the line of GVF manufactured products.
In 2007, Craig Gillison, Ron and Dianne’s youngest son, also joined Gillison’s fulltime. Craig has three years at the University of Michigan majoring in wrestling. Craig is doing sales, specializing in row crops, and finishing his education in Northern Michigan in marketing.
Gillison’s currently employs 25 people and of those employees, Dennis Humphrey and Eric Brown have been with the company nearly since it began. The employees have helped to build a strong company.
In 2004 a 13,440 square foot service building was added which gives a total of 28,440 square feet of floor space. Included in this total space are offices, a sales floor area, machine shops, a welding and burning shop, a service building, a paint shop and storage. In 2008 a major remodeling project gave Gillison’s a new 1,500 sq. foot retail showroom along with a nice facelift at the shop in Benzonia.
In 2010 Gillison’s added a 7,800 square-foot facility in Oceana County’s Hart. The new facility houses retail, parts and service areas and allows Gillison’s to better serve their loyal customers to the South.
“We try to give ourselves a niche that nobody else has.” Ron Gillison.
Farmers with the Highest Standards
The Gillison team has one purpose: provide you the best product and support to make your operation a success. Ron Gillison is a farmer who doesn’t tolerate any standard unless it’s the highest. If the equipment he needs isn’t ready to do the job right, Ron mobilizes his technology and manufacturing team to design and build it.
That’s where you benefit from Ron’s way of doing things.
The Gillison team has been manufacturing top quality agricultural equipment since 1977. We’ve put four decades of innovation and refinement into our designs and manufacturing techniques, so you can have the safest, most efficient and effective farm machines available anywhere.
Successful Farmers Agree: It’s all in the Details.
Customers in 70 countries say it all the time: Gillison's finishing is like none they’ve ever seen before. Not only are our welds the smoothest, but our multi-step paint finishing process leaves equipment protected and looking new for years.
Let Us Custom Manufacture for You.
If you’ve got a special challenge in the field, chances are we’ve seen it before and have engineered a solution. If it’s not something we’ve built already, we can figure it out and come up with a new design. We’ve been doing just that for better than thirty years, and every time, it starts with our team listening closely to you.
We design and manufacture what the conditions call for.
Look at any of our products, and you can see how we think. Better operator visibility means less tree damage. Easy installation and adjustment means more productive time in the field and less time turning wrenches. Larger adjustment ranges means your equipment adapts to your farm, rather than the other way around. Take a look at our hedgers, toppers, and skirters to see how GVF designed and manufactured equipment can make your job easier.
Gillison's Speed, Power, and Maneuverability mean better, safer work.
Our customers lift thousands of pounds of valuable cargo over rough terrain. Through our design and manufacture, we provide the safety and efficiency to get it done quickly and without mishap. Drive any of our GVF heavy-duty, rough terrain lifts and you’ll understand the advantage of using the GVF brand in the field.