In the mid fifties, Roger W. Drake, a native of Southampton County, started his business career in a service station repair shop on the banks of the Blackwater River. This business, known as Cavalier Auto Service, was located across the river from Camp Manufacturing Company and catered to the Logging contractors that worked with Camp. His work with local loggers made him realize that a need existed for a more efficient method to move logs from the stump to a central loading point. He built a couple of prototype skidders from used parts. These rubber tired, articulated vehicles would become the forerunners of the Franklin Logger. The first of these units is located today near Franklin
at the Southampton Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Courtland, Virginia. The second, which was sold to Dan Koliadko and later traded on the 100th Franklin Logger, is in a logging museum in Lufkin, Texas.
Meanwhile, Mr. Drake had acquired a Poulan Chain Saw Distributorship and set up a dealer network for Poulan in a localized area. He purchased a building next door to Cavalier and opened an automotive parts store known as Franklin Auto Supply. While operating Franklin Auto Supply, an opportunity arose to become a distributor for Pettibone, a rigid Frame, Rubber Tired Skidder. Al Rollison came on board to sell these machines and to establish a dealer network in several southern states. This program was abandoned due to a misunderstanding between Pettibone and Franklin Auto Supply.