Montgomery Ward & Co.
While I have no intention to provide (nor source information to support) a full history of the relationship between the Montgomery Ward and Company and the Simplicity Manufacturing Company, it cannot be overlooked nor the importance minimized. It's the beginning of the garden tractors that we all know and love . . .
In 1937, Montgomery Ward contacted Simplicity to see if they would and could produce two-wheel walking garden tractors for Ward to sell through their catalogs and retail stores. Thus began the entire line of Simplicity lawn and garden equipment. (Prior to that time, Simplicity had made machine equipment for rebuilding automobile engines.)
Simplicity developed two garden tractor models for Montgomery Ward to sell, and soon they were quite successful in the marketplace. At some point prior to World War II, Simplicity began selling these products to lawn and garden dealers throughout the United States under the Simplicity brand name. WWII brought a temporary halt to this growth in producing garden
equipment, and Simplicity was allowed to only produce a limited number of tractors during the war. The US War Production Board directed Simplicity to produce a variety of industrial machining equipment, in addition to the electric fence controllers that Simplicity had recently introduced.
When WWII ended in 1945, Simplicity discontinued the production of industrial machine equipment and refocused on the rapidly growing lawn and garden equipment business. They developed a wide, industry-leading line of garden tractors, snow blowers and tillers and later, four-wheel riding mowers and four-wheel garden tractors. These products
were sold both under the Montgomery Ward brand name and the Simplicity brand name.
I'm not sure when the relationship with Montgomery Ward ended, but it appears to roughly coincide with the purchase of Simplicity by Allis Chalmers Manufacturing Company that was finalized in 1965.
Browse some of these "matching models" from the 1962 Montgomery Ward catalog, courtesy of Steve Johnson. Browse
In 1973 and 1974, Montgomery Ward marketed a version of the Simplicy PowrMax, which they called the Twin Twenty.
[Source: The Story of William J. Niederkorn, prepared for the Ozaukee County Historical Society, August 8, 1967, Marquette University Press, courtesy of Simplicity Manufacturing inc. See Disclaimer.]