Learn about the tradition behind our annual Founder's Day celebration. Dean Walker reflects on its role in preserving heritage, instilling pride, and sustaining a culture beyond business success. Read more.
Max and Margaret made an early exhibit of Walker Mowers at the Kansas 3I Farm Show in ‘80 or ‘81. In the background is the Chevy Blazer they used to tour the USA making demonstrations.
An Annual Walker Tradition
At Walker Manufacturing, Founder’s Day is a cherished tradition, a moment when the bustling factory quiets down, and employees come together to honor the visionaries who started it all, Max and Margaret Walker.
Though Max and Margaret have passed away, their family continues to lead the business, and each year, the entire team pauses to celebrate the enduring legacy of the founders. As the factory falls silent, employees gather for lunch, a time to reflect on the profound impact of the yellow mower — a powerful idea that has outlived its creators, bringing pride to lawns and inspiring entrepreneurs worldwide. Founder’s Day serves as an important reminder of the lasting influence of Max and Margaret Walker and the remarkable journey they set in motion.
We asked Dean Walker, Max and Margaret’s second eldest son, about Founder’s Day, and here is what he had to share.
Dean Walker on an early Walker Mower.
Why do we celebrate Founder’s Day?
“Founder's Day is a time when we work to keep our heritage in front of us while helping the newer members of our team gain more understanding of who we are and the culture that we value and wish to continue. It is also a time of honoring my parents for their unwavering commitment to establishing a business that would be influential, not only for our family, but for many others as well. It is a time of reflection, of recounting some times when the future was clouded and uncertain, but yet rejoicing in the blessings of the Lord as a result of the faithfulness of Max and Margaret Walker.”
What does this tradition mean to you personally?
“Personally, Founder's Day is a day of recounting the journey of 60-plus years from the most humbling of beginnings to the present and remembering to appreciate what has happened along the way. We are so blessed!”
As the family continues to lead the business, how do you see the celebration contribute to the company's culture and values?
“As time passes, the direct influence of my parents becomes more distant. As employees retire and new employees join our team, Max and Margaret's influence is more diffused. Therefore, those of us involved in the day to day need to be intentional in the cultivation of who we are and the values that we hold dear, and to maintain the culture of the past as we adapt to the challenges of the present. Founder's Day helps to achieve this.”
Margaret, Max, Dean and Bob Walker.
Founder’s Day is described as a moment when the bustling factory quiets down and employees come together to honor the visionaries who started it all. How do you feel witnessing this annual pause and reflection among employees?
“Being a part of Founder's Day is a privilege. It is always fun to hear comments from those who knew Max, of how he influenced their lives from the first interview to working together for years. He was willing to look beyond what might be considered traditional wisdom and offer an opportunity to someone in need. He was a very relational person who used the business as a way to connect and bless others. It makes me proud of the great man who founded this company, whom I also called Dad.”
Reflecting on the legacy of the Walker Mower, can you share a bit about the impact it has had on lawns and entrepreneurs worldwide?
“The legacy of the Walker Mower is one of a unique product, is of good design, performs well, is of good value, and has provided a product for people around the world to provide for their families. It’s rewarding to hear of those who turned a personal interest in mowing their own lawn into a business, with the Walker mower being an integral part of that dream.”
The 2023 Founder's Day lunch celebration at the Walker Factory.
What role do you think Founder’s Day plays in fostering a sense of pride among employees?
“People like to feel like they belong; and Founder's Day helps promote a feeling of being a part of a company that matters. When we gather to celebrate, to remember, it helps us to realize that our business is about much more than just making lawn mowers, and that we are part of a movement much bigger than we see within our walls.”
Looking back, what are some of your favorite memories or moments that have emerged from past Founder’s Day celebrations?
“A favorite memory is the video that was produced last year. In that video, those who knew Max and Margaret shared how their influence was pivotal in their lives, not just providing employment, but having an impact upon their lives that was life-changing. The annual celebration also presents the challenge of remembering the responsibility we have to be faithful stewards of what we have been blessed with.”
A Timeless Significance
Founder's Day holds a special place in our hearts. Dean Walker captures its importance in preserving our heritage, values, and fostering pride among our dedicated team members
As we navigate transitions in leadership, Founder's Day emerges as a crucial moment, ensuring the continuity of a culture that spans generations. Beyond being a tribute to business success, Founder's Day is a sincere expression of gratitude for the enduring values and impact that shape Walker Manufacturing's path.
To our customers, dealers, and distributors who have been integral to this journey, thank you for being part of the Walker Mower family. Your presence is a testament to the shared commitment that bridges our past, present, and future seamlessly.
The 2023 Founder's Day shirt design.