Loading the player...
Part of the Oral History of Agriculture in Edgecombe County Project. The audio ends at 00:47:40. William Redden Long of Tarboro has had a long career as the inventor and manufacturer of agricultural machinery, and a leader in the North Carolina technical education movement. He was born on a farm near Leggett, NC. His family moved when he was 13 to Lawrence. As a teenager he set up his own farm equipment repair shop in the back yard, fixing implements and machinery for his family and soon for many others in the area. This work led to innovations in the design and functioning of various machines. His first invention, in 1935, was a new kind of peanut threshing machine. In 1939 he became an equipment dealer for the G. I. Case Farmer Equipment Company, and continued developing his own inventions. In 1941 he moved to Tarboro and built his own supply company, which evolved in 1945 into the Long Manufacturing Company. The list of Long’s mechanical adaptations and inventions includes an oil-flame tobacco curing system to a tobacco harvester to a peanut combine, rotary cutters, rotary tillers, loaders for tractors, new kinds of grain bins, and hay balers. In 1953 he made an arrangement with Ford Motor Company to make balers which Ford marketed and distributed (he made over 100,000 balers under this arrangement) in the U.S. and internationally. In Tarboro, where heretofore the only manufacturing jobs had been in the cotton and hosiery mills, he set up a training program for local workers to learn how to build heavy farm machinery. This evolved into a technical training school, with the support of Governor Luther Hodges, and the establishment of another in Wilson. Long prospered, at one time employing 1,650 people, and bringing in over 90 million dollars in sales, but with hard financial times for farmers beginning in 1981 his own business declined badly. At the time of this interview Long was on the threshold of founding a new business, W. R. Long, Inc., which would concentrate on the manufacture and sales of vehicles and machinery used in the landscaping business.