Hoyle Pounds (1893-1981)
In 1928, Pounds developed and patented the first rubber tractor tires, earning his economic success and the nickname “Mr. Tractor.” In the 1940s Pounds formed the Pounds Industrial Gas Company to meet the rising demand for LP gas for farm and grove businesses. For decades Pounds was instrumental in designing and building fertilizer attachments, hedgers, sprayers, grove tractors, dusters and many other pieces of specialized grove equipment.
Pounds Motor Company
Pounds Industrial Gas Company
Hoyle Pounds was born in Ocoee, Fla., on December 6, 1893. Enrolling at the University of Florida as a sub-freshman at age 16, because there was no local high school, Pounds studied engineering for two-and-a-half years. While enrolled at the University of Florida, he took all the engineering courses he believed would be valuable and married a girl from Illinois. In 1914 he opened a garage in Ocoee and in the 1920s he moved to Winter Garden and established the first and oldest grove machinery dealership in Florida.
By 1926 Pounds moved to Winter Garden, established a business where he sold model-T Ford cars downstairs and repaired tractors upstairs. In 1928, Pounds developed and patented the first rubber tractor tires, earning his economic success and the nickname “Mr. Tractor.” His innovation was important as roads were being built and tractors with the old metal wheels were outlawed because of the damage they could cause the roads. Rubber tires turned a harsh riding steel-wheeled tractor into a road friendly, smooth riding machine that pulled and traveled well both in and out of the field. Pounds cornered the market on rubber tractor tires until 1933. Several studies of the time showed that as much as a third less fuel and a fourth more work with low pressure rubber tires resulted when compared to steel lugs. He also added an extra gear to his tractors, which speeded them up from six mph to over 30 mph.
Pounds’ great success allowed him to expand his business from his first shop measuring 14 x 28 feet, to a complex of buildings covering thousands of square feet of land in the downtown section of Winter Garden. Pounds had such a large safe that while the Winter Garden Bank was being refurbished in the 1930s, Pounds Motor Company served as the temporary bank. Pounds also served the Winter Garden community in various ways. He was the Volunteer Fire Chief of Winter Garden for 41 years; his workers also served as the firemen; Pounds required all his workers to serve as volunteer fireman.
In the 1940s Pounds formed the Pounds Industrial Gas Company to meet the rising demand for LP gas for farm and grove businesses. He originally asked Green Fuel of Orlando if they would keep a full gas truck at Pounds Motor Company 24 hours a day. Green Fuel declined the request, so Pounds built his own gas storage facility to supply his customers. The facility was so big that a company in Oklahoma had to design it because no one in the state knew how. Pounds Industrial Gas served Winter Garden and surrounding areas between the 1940s-1980s. Pounds incorporated his business after two of his sons, Herbert and Russell, were discharged from the Air Force after World War II. They worked with Pounds and helped him run the family business. Another son, Donald, operated the tractor company in Winter Haven.
Pounds had a long career as an innovator. For decades Pounds was instrumental in designing and building fertilizer attachments, hedgers, sprayers, grove tractors, dusters and many other pieces of specialized grove equipment. Pounds also designed a lawn mower deck for his good friend and fishing buddy, Neil Smith, who was the creator of the Snapper lawn mowers. Although Smith initially kept the idea a secret, when the project was completed, the two men had made the first Snappin’ Turtle lawn mower decks. When Smith completed building his lawn mowers, Pounds began to sell them at Pounds Motor Company. In 1959, he received a patent for a combined tree cultivator and fertilizer distributive. In 1980, in honor of his many contributions to the growing process, Pounds was inducted into Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Pounds passed away in 1981, leaving behind a legacy of success and ingenuity. He was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in 1996, for making the Winter Garden area a hub of citrus growing and revolutionizing the farm equipment industry. The city of Winter Garden has included him in their honor walk, honoring its most influential and civic-minded citizens in downtown Winter Garden.