BY TOBY GOOLEY, SENIOR EDITOR
LIFT TRUCKS HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR A LONG TIME—CLARK
Equipment Co. is widely credited as the inventor of the sit-down counterbalanced forklift back in 1917. In the 100 years since, lift trucks have become both
ubiquitous and indispensable. More than half a million forklifts are in use in
the United States today, and orders for new equipment have grown to well over
200,000 units annually, according to the Industrial Truck Association (ITA),
which represents providers of lift trucks and associated products and services in
North America. About 30 brands of lift trucks for warehouse applications are
currently sold in the U.S.—some manufactured here and others imported.
Clearly, this is a mature and highly competitive market. Yet in the past few
years, new companies have entered the U.S. marketplace, and others that already
had a toehold have expanded their presence. What is drawing them here, and
why would they want to enter—or expand in—such a crowded field?
ANOTHER RECORD YEAR AHEAD?
The main reason the U.S. lift truck market is so attractive right now is that
it’s red-hot. The June 2017 report “Lifting America: The Economic Impact of
Industrial Truck Manufacturers, Distributors and Dealers,” produced by Oxford
Economics for ITA, notes that U.S. domestic orders for industrial trucks have
grown by 150 percent since 2009, representing a volume increase of 130,000
units. For North America as a whole, 2015 and 2016 were “historic” years for
About 30 brands of lift
trucks for warehouse
applications are sold in
the United States today.
So why are new entrants
eager to enter such a