Brown Bear Corp.

With a legacy that dates back to 1961, Brown Bear Corp. has continuously evolved since its founding as Roscoe Brown Sales Company. President Stan Brown currently leads the organization his father began, which is now a privately held manufacturing company that builds products for the environmental, pipeline and utility industries.  

Initially sellers of trenching equipment for Speicher Brothers Manufacturing, the company started manufacturing crawler-mounted auger backfiller attachments in 1968 and developed a hydrostatic conversion kit for the Speicher trenchers in the 1970s. In 1976, the company developed the Brown Bear backfiller equipment line and started expanding the product application.  

“The primary product line expanded to four sizes of tool carriers with the primary attachment being a continuous auger backfiller for trench filling, mounted perpendicular on the front of the carrier,” Brown says. 

 The company’s first product available in addition to the backfiller was a snow blower, and the company later developed composting attachments. It also built 4x4 and 6x6 all-terrain carriers for the utility industry and installed aerial baskets, cranes and digger derricks.  In 1987, Brown purchased the company from his father and incorporated as Brown Bear Corp.  

“The first addition to the product line after starting as Brown Bear was the brush mulching attachments, later followed by the green mulching attachments,” Brown says. “The newest attachment is our backfilling screen, which screens the backfill to 1” minus before depositing it in the trench.”   

Reaching the Market

Brown Bear currently serves a variety of market segments, with its products used in applications such as composting, sludge drying, manure handling, bioremediation, brush cutting, right-of-way clearing, tree trimming, backfilling and all-terrain transporting. 

Based in a 40,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Corning, Iowa, Brown Bear’s products are sold nationally and internationally in the environmental, pipeline construction, and utility construction and maintenance markets. All engineering, design, fabrication, paint and assembly, and sales and support are handled from Corning.

The environmental market is a growing market, and the company serves a large segment of that market in the municipal and county potable water and wastewater treatment.  It also provides variations of its equipment for work in bioremediation of hydrocarbon and petrochemical contaminated soils, as well as other chemical waste cleanup processes.  

“The customers for this market are sometimes the companies who generate the waste and other times contractors hired to do the cleanups,” Brown says. “We provide everything from skid steer size attachments to large self-propelled carriers and attachments to this industry.”

 Trenching contractors in sectors such as tile drainage, pipeline, electric line and other underground markets are other targets for Brown Bear. This is the primary market for backfilling products and the backfilling screen attachments on its carriers.  “We provide small to large attachments and our own primary product line of carriers with attachments for this industry,” Brown says.

 Contractors working in underground pipeline or overhead and underground electric power distribution primarily use Brown Bear’s brush mulching equipment.  Attachments for skid steers and farm tractors as well as Brown Bear carriers with attachments are provided for these applications.

 Utility contractors and electrical power companies have been the main market for Brown Bear’s ATC products with most outfitted with aerial baskets, cranes or down hole drills. All kinds of contractors use its snow blower products, and some are sold to cities and counties.  

“We currently sell more small attachments in this marketplace, but we have and will continue to provide large attachments for our own carriers for this application,” Brown says. 

All of Brown Bear’s customers expect timely delivery, quality products and product support.  As a small private company, Brown Bear has to work hard to provide what the customer expects, and the company believes it has a high rate of success. 

“We feel like we currently provide excellent service to our customers, and we are working hard to maintain that reputation,” Brown says. “As a small company, we are also able to provide products that are custom engineered to the customers’ application and expectations.”

Looking Ahead

In recent times, Brown Bear has dealt with revisions on all of its diesel-powered equipment from Tier II to Tier III, and it is now looking at the need for Tier IV. With the economy still in recovery mode, Brown Bear’s investments have been emphasizing modernization of current products, introducing new variations of current products, and bringing on a few new items like the backfilling screen.

The primary focus going forward for Brown Bear is on product updates, Tier modernization, remote control systems and its new backfilling screen products.  The company recognizes that achieving Tier IV is going to be a major challenge because it is a small private company. It currently has a small manufactures exemption allowing it to stay with production using Tier III diesels, but that exemption has a time limit.  

“Tier IV would hurt our export business for diesel powered equipment since most of the countries we currently export to do not have Tier IV compliant fuels,” Brown says. “However, the backfilling screen products have a lot of promise for sales in the underground trenching industry. The backfilling screen is our latest product introduction with regards to expanding our reach. We are still prototyping this unit and making improvements as we run it on different job sites.” 

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