As a farmer near Oregon, Illinois, Edward D. Etnyre looked for ways to make his work more productive. His first invention was an automatic system to supply water to his hogs, an idea that led to the manufacture of water tanks on wheels - steel and wooden thresher tanks to supply water to steam engines used in threshing.
Business flourished and, by 1898, E.D. Etnyre & Co. was established in a former battery factory on the banks of the Rock River in Oregon, Illinois.
With the advent of automobiles, a need for better roads emerged. The Etnyre company responded with a road oiler, first pulled behind a horse, then placed on the back of a truck. Etnyre even tried his hand at automobile manufacturing with three "horseless carriages" and 10 touring cars, but soon determined such products were not in his firm's future.
All-weather roads soon became a necessity and again Etnyre responded with development of a bituminous distributor, a machine that was constantly refined to provide precise seal-coat applications.