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Wilcox Farm Family History

Six generations of western farm crop production is the Wilcox family heritage. It’s been the family’s livelihood since Isaiah Wilcox first settled in Santa Clara, California after arriving from New York in 1847 and planted a pear orchard on 200 acres. The ranch prospered under the family’s farming operation for three more generations until the 1950s, when the area began transitioning to what it is know by today, i.e., “Silicone Valley”, and farming operations were replaced by asphalt, concrete and a world wide center for advanced technology.

The family’s move to the highly productive California Delta agricultural region during the 1950’s was orchestrated by fourth generation grower Frank Wilcox, who first established the family’s pear operations in this location. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Frank worked with his boys (the fifth generation Wilcox brothers) to establish a progressive, diversified family farming operations which included pears, corn, wheat, barley, tomatoes, sugar beets, safflower and alfalfa .

As farm tractor design and production improved during this time, a new line of more powerful tractors gradually became the norm for most farm operations. Tillage tools designed specially for western farming conditions and field operations saw little, if any gain during this same period of time.

Fifth-generation Wilcox brother, Alan Wilcox, recognized this growing gap between increasing tractor horsepower and the lack of tillage tools to increase grower efficiencies and return upon his return from Cal Polly College to take over the family’s open field farming operations. He convinced his brothers of the need to redesign some of the basic mechanisms of these tillage tools. They began work in his uncle’s shop, with a confident belief that they could come up with design improvements on basic tillage tools that would make them better suited to unique California soil conditions and farming practices.


Alan recalls:

“In the 70s it was common to chisel and plow everything, because of the nature of the delta soil where we farmed. Crops grown in this rich soil left a tremendous amount of post-harvest trash.

We could see what was needed was a tool that would break up the ground and do less damage; something that fractures the soil without disturbing the seed bed.

So our first “product” was a subsoiler for out own use, using a unique chisel shank we designed on the concrete floor. When we first showed it during the Tulare Farm Show in 1976, competitors and customers were skeptical because it was something they hadn’t seen before and we weren’t all that well know outside of the Delta then.

But once our new chisel shanks were put to the test in field trials, they proved so advanced that four other companies incorporated the design into their product. That says a great deal about how far ahead of the industry were were. That shank later became our logo.”


Though the Wilcox’s didn’t initially plan on entering the manufacturing business, Alan remembers:


“We were working in my uncle Irv’s shop up by Clarksburg at the time. He was kind enough to allow his nephews to use his shop to build the new chisel and moldboard plow designs.

When neighbors began stopping by and saw the latest improvements, they asked us if we’d build one for them in the winter time, so we started taking a few orders at a time.

It only took a year for us to become quite an annoyance to my uncle, and when he said that it was coming to a point where ‘the tail was wagging the dog,’ we knew we had to find a bigger shop to work in.”

In 1976, Alan and his brothers moved their shop operations to the small California Delta town of Walnut Grove. About that time, Rod and Stan Dolk of Dolk Tractor Company in Rio Vista realized how happy the first few farmers were with the chisels the Wilcox’s had made for them. They asked Wilcox to build a few of their chisels units for them because Rod and Stan thought they could sell them. Alan reluctantly agreed. After Dolk’s initial success selling the Wilcox chisel, they asked the brothers to design and build a heavy duty, high clearance roll-over plow especially for use out west, one that would more efficiently utilize the full horsepower range of the larger tractors being introduced at that time. Alan enthusiastically took on their request.

The new Wilcox plow was 50 to 80% heavier built than its midwest competitors and was designed with 50 to 80% more trash clearance to handle heavy crop stubble and irrigated California soils.

According to Rod Dolk, “They had what the growers needed and the industry lacked - their unique Wilcox designed, big, tough chisels that outperformed the completion and a high clearance, heavy-duty moldboard plow that was just about an “overnight success” because of how much better they worked compared to other plows available in the market place that were designed primarily for midwest farming operations.”




“Dolk Tractor Company’s sales helped give us the start we needed to become an industry leader in the California market in the latter half of the 1970’s. From that point on, the Wilcox Agri-Products logo was put on everything we built, and our brand became synonymous with advance tillage tool solutions that were complete systems to meet grower needs. We began setting up exclusive dealers in California. Advanced growers, were the first to pick up on our product line advantages, and were soon followed by a wide variety of large, medium and small sized growers.”

The Wilcox family farm story continues on.  Bruce Wilcox, Alan’s brother, is in charge of the family’s farming operations and manages the orchard activities. Wade manages the family’s open ground operations and also runs his own custom tillage operation. He is advancing his knowledge in global positioning satellite technology with ongoing tillage tool design, development and application. Wade is looking forward to carrying his own ideas forward, while already looking to the day when his young sons, Cody and Blake, will carry on the seventh generation of Wilcox family farming and tillage tool manufacturing operations.


Staying focused in farming keeps Wilcox Agri-Products operations grounded in what has always been the core basis for their success - producing tillage tools that can stand rugged farm field operations and outperform the competition when it comes to costs saving, efficiency and return on investment.

Although their designs have been copied by other manufactures for years, Wilcox Agri-Products remain unique in their ability to stay focused and driven by the challenge of designing and manufacturing advanced ag tillage tools that help growers succeed.

When you mix traditional American farm family values and tillage tool designs driven to meet advanced grower needs with the best in technology, materials and manufacturing processes, you have a formula for Wilcox Agri-Products success and an approach to business and life that is becoming harder to find in today’s fast moving world.

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