Our Founder's Legacy

Our Founder's Legacy


Robert B. Daugherty was the man that pioneered center pivot irrigation and founded Valmont Industries in Omaha, Nebraska. He passed away in November 2010 after a short illness, yet his vision will forever remain the cornerstone of Valmont business. 

“Improving agricultural productivity has been my life’s work,” Daugherty once said.

Bob Daugherty was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1922. He was a graduate of Omaha Central High School and later Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. After college, he served in World War II. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps, first serving in the Pacific Theatre and later in China. 

When the war was over, Bob’s uncle and mentor Frank Daugherty encouraged him to consider business opportunities, which led him to invest his life savings in a farm machine shop in Valley, Nebraska. In 1953, Daugherty purchased the licensing rights to manufacture the center pivot from inventor Frank Zybach and embarked on a journey that would revolutionize agriculture – not only in North America, but throughout the world. 

Under Daugherty’s leadership, Valmont later expanded into the tubing, galvanizing and engineered infrastructure products industries.

Daugherty retired from Valmont’s Board of Directors in 2004 after serving for 57 years, and continued to demonstrate his dedication to agriculture and water conservation well into his retirement. In April 2010, his charitable foundation committed $50 million to the University of Nebraska to found the Global Water for Food Institute. The multi-campus center for research, education and policy analysis relating to the use of water for agriculture will facilitate development of solutions to the challenges of hunger, poverty, farm productivity and water management. “I can’t think of a better investment to sustain [my life’s work],” he said.

Daugherty’s legacy will extend into the future as Valmont continues to grow and adapt to the global business environment.