F & N Lawn Mower
After farm equipment and pianos, one of the other industries that has defined Richmond is the production of the lawn mower. Around the turn of the twentieth century, Richmond was unofficially known as the “Lawn Mower Capital of the World,” because of the many companies located here which sent their products to all parts of the world.
The first company that made small mowers was called Dille & McGuire. Legend has it that a Richmond resident owned a fodder cutter made in England, and he brought it to the machine shop owned by Harry Dille and Elwood McGuire to have it sharpened. McGuire was a mechanical genius and devised a way to make the machine more efficient, user friendly, and easier to manufacture. Once production was up and running, he became a marketing genius as well, sending a salesforce across the country and around the world. In 1893, he provided all the grass cutting for the Chicago World's Fair, free of charge. This was an excellent marketing stunt, as thousands of visitors who had never before seen a lawn mower, watched in awe as a team of men manicured a field of grass.
The success of Dille & McGuire prompted others to jump in. In 1889, Henry Farmer and Finley Newlin started the F & N Lawn Mower company. They weren't very successful, and the company was reorganized under the leadership of John M. Lontz in 1895. The new company kept its previous name. It began in the building on North Street that now houses B & F Plastics, and expanded several times over the years as its business grew. In 1929, it purchased three of the empty Gaar, Scott, & Co. buildings just to the north. The F & N company remained in that location until it closed in 1957.
At least eight other Richmond manufacturers added mowers to their list of products, and supplied a large portion of all mowers in existence.