A product of necessity.
Conceived more than two decades ago in the gold mines of Alaska, JohnnyBall is the first from Dirtworks Products. It began back in the 90s when inventor John Miller saw the need for an onboard measuring tool that would give operators guidance on level and grade. Working the mines as an operator himself, John knew that attempting to guess level and slope wasn’t enough. He needed to know he was level. Yet, to his surprise, there was no 3D measuring product on the market.
This experience planted the seed for JohnnyBall. But it turns out JohnnyBall wasn’t John’s first invention. Before JohnnyBall, he developed, patented and sold the Rockland Smart Thumb, an extendible thumb attachment for legacy backhoes, which he sold into the market through Caterpillar of West Michigan. John then sold the business to Rockland Manufacturing, which continues to sell the Smart Thumb today.
In 2012, John began to turn his attention back to JohnnyBall. After a couple years of product development, lab, and field-testing, John sought out the engineering, design, and development expertise of Camcar Plastics. The Muskegon Michigan-based firm helped refine JohnnyBall’s next phase of prototyping. John then turned to Viking Tool & Engineering for additional tooling, fixture, product production, and sourcing expertise.
In 2014, a second JohnnyBall prototype was released. In addition to John’s own excavating company, in-depth testing was conducted by Team Elmer’s at multiple sites throughout Michigan. Lab tests, field results, and operator recommendations served to refine the final design and manufacturing process. The result was the product we have today, now available to save you time and money.