Roland Machinery Co. Founder Passes Away

Thu June 06, 2013 - Midwest Edition

E. Earl Roland.
E. Earl Roland.

E. Earl Roland, founder and chairman of Roland Machinery Co., passed away on May 13. Mr. Roland was 90 years of age.

Mr. Roland graduated from Hannibal High School, Hannibal, Mo., and Hannibal LaGrange University. He began his business career as a salesman in 1944, after naval service in World War II. He was an Elder of Westminster Presbyterian Church. Mr. Roland was a resident of Springfield, Ill., and additionally had wintered in Naples, Fla., since 1980.

Mr. Roland was involved in property development, two additional construction distribution companies, saw mill, and popcorn businesses. Mr. Roland was instrumental in shaping the Fiber Optics Industry in his development of the first cable plow attachment for a bulldozer.

Later in life Mr. Roland was able to spend time on his philanthropic responsibility. Along with donation of time and resources to a variety of charities, most notably United Way and Contact Ministries — Springfield, Ill., he made a permanent mark on Hannibal-LaGrange University. Mr. Roland was instrumental in building the Roland Fine Arts Center in 2001 and Roland Library in 2010.

Roland Machinery Co. was originally founded in 1958 as McElroy-Roland Machinery in Springfield, Ill. Mr. Roland acquired Ken McElroy’s interests in 1969. Roland Machinery Co. began as an industrial machinery distributor for International Harvester Corp with territorial responsibility for 45 counties in central Illinois.

Today, Roland Machinery Co. represents a variety of key manufacturers; Komatsu, Wirtgen, Vogele, Hamm, Kleeman, Sennebogen and Leeboy. Roland Machinery has enjoyed steady growth over its 55 years with 15 full service facilities in Illinois, Missouri, NW Indiana, Wisconsin and UP of Michigan.

Mr. Roland retired from day to day operational duties in 1982. Today, Raymond E. Roland (son) serves as CEO and Matthew L. Roland (grandson) serves as president.