Sherman Ward

Bud Bushnell was the founder of Genie, the pioneering manufacturer of mobile elevating work platforms that enable people to work safely and productively at height. Born in 1921, Bud married his high school sweetheart Mary Jean Moore and served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during World War II. An inventor and craftsman all his life, he launched Genie Industries in 1966 in a small warehouse in downtown Seattle. His first lift operated on compressed air, and customers referred to the hissing noise it made as “Genie magic in a bottle,” leading to the company name.

Patient, humble and kind, Bud was known for treating his employees with respect – he referred to them as “team members.” He enjoyed meeting with customers and asking about their needs. The Genie Teletower, which had a platform to lift people, was inspired by a customer suggestion Bud received while demonstrating the Genie Hoist, his original lift, at a trade show. Bud followed up with the idea of a nesting aluminum mast section, and the Superlift was born, opening the door for a new generation of lifting products. These innovations laid the groundwork for Genie’s evolution into the aerial work platforms that followed — leading to the modern lifting machinery used by the construction, agriculture and other industries today. Through his inventions, Bud didn’t just make work at height more efficient, he helped make it safer. The highest priority in everything he designed was safety. Helping people work safely at height is still the most important thing Genie and its equipment do today.

In the 1980s, Bud turned over company leadership to Bob Wilkerson, Roger Brown and Bud’s son Ward Bushnell, and Genie continued to grow as an innovative, customer-centric enterprise. In 2002, Genie became part of the publicly owned Terex Corporation and today continues to be its largest business. In retirement, Bud enjoyed spending time with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who lovingly called him “Chief.” He embraced the life he aspired to while supporting his family, employees, customers and the community. Bud lived nearly 100 years, leaving a legacy that will benefit the people of the industries he served long into the future.