Material Handling
Thursday | 19 March, 2009 | 5:39 am

Selective stubbornness

By Andy Barks

March 2009 - Certain businesses are historically more reliant on particular industries. Regardless of market trends and price fluctuations, their operations will be founded on that same general basis, for better or for worse.

Falling under that category is Hoist Liftruck Mfg. Inc., Bedford Park, Ill., which has been fabricating heavy-duty equipment since the turn of the century. Despite the extended lull in metals prices during the past six months, Hoist has maintained steady production and inked its share of high-profile deals, proving that quality products and sound relationships can trump even the most habitual material reliance.

Steel security
Hoist traces its company history as far back as the 1890s, and the fabrication process has been relatively consistent throughout. Forklifts have long been an industry staple, and Hoist's products are renowned for their durability and their rugged, frill-free design. That design was a direct result of an industry that requires the manufacturer to place a premium on its equipment's ability to withstand harsh workplace conditions.

"Our forklifts are designed and manufactured with the same core philosophy today as they were 100 years ago," said Hoist Liftruck president Marty Flaska in a press release. "Though the designs and technology have changed over the years, the durability and ruggedness have not."

Power, for lack of a better term, is another element of the liftrucks' appeal. Minor tweaks during decades of fabrication have allowed Hoist's forklifts to maximize their efficiency and strength. Every product on the line is capable of accommodating more than 15,000 pounds, and the most heavy-duty options boast capacities of more than 100,000 pounds. Experience has allowed the company to determine how to best distribute that weight.

"We're pleased to see the quality of the components used in the engineering of the Hoist product and the ability to make quick repairs with components that are readily available, engineered and produced in the United States," said Joe Quinto, president and general manager of Toyota Lift of Los Angeles Inc., Santa Fe Springs, Calif., in a press release. "This reduces downtime and shortens lead times in production."

New forays, same mainstays
Although the company began with--and has maintained--strong ties to the port and intermodal industry, Flaska estimates that more than 80 percent of Hoist's business is rooted in steel or metals operations. Much of that is derived from product reliability, but Hoist has quietly collected international connections, as well.

Among its recent clients are ArcelorMittal, Luxembourg, Buhler AG, Uzwil, Switzerland, and a half-dozen British firms that signed extended sales agreements in September.

The Carrylift Group, Skelmersdale, England, was recruited to represent Hoist in Northern England and Scotland, entrenching the Illinois-based company in key ports such as Liverpool and Aberdeen.

"[We are] proud and excited to be part of the new venture with Hoist Liftruck and its expansion into the UK market," says Julie Houghton of the Carrylift Group. "Selling their products will not only create the opportunity to strengthen our existing product range and reinforce our position within the marketplace, it will also enable both Hoist and Carrylift into new markets."

And from Hoist's perspective, the broader the international base becomes, the less its reliance on the steel sector will matter. By continuing to establish retailers in new corners of the globe, the company is making a foray into new markets look less necessary. MM

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