McLaughlin Turns 100, Marking a Century of Underground Equipment Innovations

McLaughlin Workhorse 225 boring through dirt.
McLaughlin’s roots go back to the early part of the last century.
Vermeer MV Solutions

McLaughlin, a Vermeer brand, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2021. The auger boring equipment manufacturer was founded in 1921 in Rockdale, Illinois by World War I veteran and ex-coal miner Joseph McLaughlin, who had an idea for an auger to simplify a coal miner’s job and make the industry more productive.

"Through much of the McLaughlin company's 100-year history, Vermeer and its network of dealers have been important partners," said Dave Gasmovic, business development manager for Vermeer MV Solutions. "That mutual commitment solidified when Vermeer acquired McLaughlin. Since then, we’re proud to say that many of our original product lines have been incorporated into the Vermeer-branded product line-up.”

Here’s a look at how the company has evolved over the years:

1950s – McLaughlin became a leading supplier of drilling tools to mines across the U.S. and expanded its operations, moving into a new facility in Joliet, Illinois.

Vintage picture of the Might Mole“Innovation is in McLaughlin’s DNA,” says Gasmovic. “And, it’s always been a guiding principle for the brand."Vermeer MV Solutions1960s – The company expanded again, building a new facility in Plainfield, Illinois. Despite the passing of Joseph McLaughlin in 1964, the company continued to grow, creating innovative products for the underground utility sector. McLaughlin launched the Might Mole, a new type of system that would drill under roads, driveways and sidewalks to allow installation of small diameter services.

1970s - McLaughlin bought Western Boring Equipment Company, an auger boring manufacturer, allowing the company to expand its business into larger-diameter boring machines for an entirely new market. In addition, McLaughlin added plants in Greenville, S.C., and Arlington, Texas.

1980s - When horizontal directional drilling began to take off in the late 1980s, McLaughlin saw the need for tracking and detection systems. As a result, the company brought to market the Spot D Tek I.

1990s – Tracking and detection system development and improvements continued, and in the mid-90s, McLaughlin introduced the Verifier® G3 utility locator. In 1999, Vacuum Source, Inc. was founded as a subsidiary of McLaughlin, serving customers with a new line of vacuum excavation and sewer cleaning systems.

2000s - Vacuum Source was made a division of McLaughlin in 2001, and the products took on the McLaughlin brand name. In 2006, McLaughlin began manufacturing them for Vermeer.

2010s - Vermeer bought a minority interest in McLaughlin in 2012, selling McLaughlin’s vacuum excavators, utility locators, pneumatic piercing tools, core saws and auger boring equipment to contractors through the Vermeer dealer network. In 2017, Vermeer acquired the rest of McLaughlin. Then in 2018, Vermeer purchased Vac-Tron Equipment, LLC, and integrated the two companies’ product lines as Vermeer MV Solutions.

Today - Vermeer MV Solutions continues to produce the McLaughlin auger boring products and has introduced other products, like the Workhorse 225 and Workhorse 175 auger boring machines, to the trenchless industry.

“Everything that McLaughlin has accomplished in the last 100 years has to provide innovative solutions to our customers’ problems,” says Gasmovic. “So, although we are proud of our century of service, we are focused on the future — always working toward the next development that will benefit the industry."