The companies that produce forklifts and other industrial machines are as diverse as the products they create. From familiar forklift brands to niche specialty manufacturers, finding the right fit for your business can be daunting. Fortunately, there is a forklift for every need, and this guide will help you find the forklift manufacturer that makes it.
There are many different makes of forklifts and nearly as many companies creating the machines. Here are some of the top forklift manufacturers that produce these heavy lifting, moving and stacking marvels of machinery.
North American manufacturers
Caterpillar (Cat Lift Trucks)
Caterpillar was founded in 1950. However, it didn’t enter the industrial machine market until a decade and a half later. That’s when the company acquired Towmotor, which began manufacturing industrial forklifts in 1933. (Founded in 1919, Towmotor was a direct competitor of the Clark Tructractor Company and Yale & Towne Manufacturing Company, significant players in the history of forklifts.)
In 1992 Caterpillar formed a joint venture with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Today, the company sells material handling equipment worldwide. Its nearly 700,000-square-foot North American headquarters is based in Houston, Texas.
Cat Lift Trucks sells a wide range of forklifts, including counterbalanced electric forklifts, reach trucks, stackers and side loaders.
Clark Material Handling Company
Speaking of the Clark Tructractor Company, Clark Material Handling Co. is a direct descendant of that company, which created the first internal combustion-powered industrial truck (the aforementioned Tructractor).
Clark Material Handling Company’s North American corporate headquarters are in Lexington, Kentucky. In 1998, the company acquired Samsung Forklift Company of Korea and expanded worldwide.
Clark Material Handling’s forklift lines include internal combustion and electric forklifts, pallet jacks and narrow aisle trucks.
Crown Equipment Corporation
Crown Equipment Corporation is a family-led company. In 1945, brothers Carl and Allen Dicke founded Crown Controls Corporation, a one-room operation in New Bremen, Ohio. Fifteen years later, the company entered the material handling equipment industry. Today, led by the fourth generation, Crown Equipment Corporation is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of powered industrial forklifts.
Crown Equipment Corporation produces a variety of electric and internal combustion forklifts and components throughout the world.
Hoist Material Handling
Established in 1918, Brooklyn, New York-based Silent Hoist & Crane company serviced the port of New York (one of the busiest harbors at the time) and other Atlantic seaports. Since then, the company has gone through a few names, settling on Hoist Material Handling. Its acquisition of Elwell-Parker in 2000 enabled Hoist to enter the electric forklift market.
Today, Hoist provides a variety of reach trucks, side loaders, pallet jacks, stackers and order pickers. All forklifts are manufactured in the United States.
Hyster-Yale Materials Handling
Since its inception, Hyster-Yale has focused on lifting. It was founded in 1929 as The Hyster Company and initially produced winches and lifting equipment. Hyster began manufacturing its first forklift trucks during the 1930s. In 1989, The Hyster Company was acquired by NACCO Industries, Inc., bringing a new name and brand to the table.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Hyster-Yale Group produces two brands of forklifts: Hyster and Yale. Their combined product lines include electric forklifts, order pickers, tow tractors, internal combustion forklifts, pallet trucks and reach trucks.
Founded in 1881, Pettibone Bros. Manufacturing Company’s initial focus was selling agricultural equipment, tools and other products. As the years passed, Pettibone expanded its product range to include equipment for construction, material handling and other industrial applications.
Due to its history, it is no surprise that Pettibone’s specialization is heavy-duty forklifts and telehandlers. The company even invented the first forward-reaching rough terrain handler, the Cary-Lift.
Toyota Material Handling
Why is one of the largest Japanese car manufacturers in the North American section? Because its Material Handling division is (and always has been) based in the U.S. since the 1988 founding of Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing in Columbus, Indiana. Today, the company is headquartered in Irvine, California. However, its manufacturing plant remains in Columbus.
Toyota Material Handling sells a wide range of industrial equipment, including forklifts, reach trucks, order pickers, pallet jacks, automated guided vehicles and tow tractors.
Intent on servicing the farming community in Thetford Mines, Quebec, Canada, Marcel Vallée founded his eponymous general store and repair shop in 1956. As agricultural needs expanded, so did Vallée’s offerings to include material handling equipment, such as loaders and forklifts. Today, Vallée has established itself as a leading Canadian forklift manufacturer and exports its equipment globally.
Vallée specializes in articulated four-wheel-drive forklifts, including some for extra rough terrain and underground mining.
Compared to many other forklift companies on this list, Combilift is still in its infancy. However, its success rivals many of its older compatriots. Today, Combilift is the world’s largest manufacturer of multidirectional forklifts, partly due to its innovative, multidirectional steering technology.
Established in 1998 in Monaghan, Ireland, by Martin McVicar and Robert Moffett, Combilift’s primary focus is specialty forklifts, such as narrow aisle multidirectional forklifts, long-load handling solutions and side loaders.
Flexi Narrow Aisle, Ltd. was founded in 1976 in the United Kingdom. The brand pioneered the articulated warehouse truck concept. All Flexi products are designed to work in very narrow aisles while transporting a standard 48-inch pallet.
Flexi’s line of electric narrow aisle trucks features an articulating front axle that allows the mast to rotate 90 degrees.
Hubtex Maschinenbau & Co.
Hubtex Maschinenbau & Co. was founded in 1981, focusing on conveyor technology and logistics. While its product line has expanded over the years, its mission is unchanged. The company’s solutions are tailored to the specific needs of customers with unique material handling challenges.
Hubtex manufactures custom-built industrial trucks, side-loaders and special-purpose equipment that transport long, heavy, difficult and bulky goods.
Jungheinrich was founded in 1953 by a gentleman named Friedrich Jungheinrich. It started as a small workshop repairing and servicing industrial trucks. However, within three years, the company evolved into an electric forklift manufacturer and entered the material handling equipment market. By the 1980s, Jungheinrich expanded its products to include reach trucks, order pickers and stackers.
Jungheinrich is best known among electric forklift manufacturers for producing forklifts, reach trucks and walkie stackers. However, the company provides some internal combustion forklift options, as well.
Linde Material Handling
Please don’t confuse “Linde” with “Lindt,” which is a Swedish chocolatier and not a German forklift producer. Although both companies are European, you’d find it difficult to eat a Linde product (and nearly impossible to finish the whole thing).
Linde Material Handling has been around since 1904, but the company’s big breakthrough occurred in 1955 when it introduced the first transport vehicle with Linde’s patented hydrostatic drive. A hydrostatic drive is a transmission system that utilizes hydraulic power. Hydrostatic drives can be smaller than other transmission systems without sacrificing power.
Linde Material Handling manufactures electric and internal combustion forklifts, aisle trucks and tow tractors.
In 1953, Marcel Braud founded Manitou as a small workshop in Ancenis, France. The company initially focused on repairing and overhauling agricultural machinery. During the 1960s, Manitou began manufacturing its equipment, specializing in rough-terrain forklifts and trucks. In the 1970s, Manitou expanded its product range to include what would become one of its flagship products: telescopic handlers.
Today, Manitou’s product line includes indoor and rough terrain forklifts and a wide variety of telehandlers.
Moffett Engineering was founded in Ireland by Cecil Moffett as an agricultural equipment producer. (If the Moffett name sounds familiar, it’s because Cecil’s son, Robert, co-founded Combilift.) The company etched its name in forklift history in 1986 with the invention of the truck-mounted forklift designed to be transported to a worksite. Truck-mounted forklifts are commonly used in worksites with limited accessibility or to load and unload goods across great distances.
Today, Moffett is owned by Hiab, a Swedish company, and it continues to specialize in truck-mounted forklifts.
In 1977, Svetruck began in Ljungby, Sweden, to design and produce heavy-duty forklifts and container handlers. The company is known for robust products that can handle substantial loads in demanding environments.
Svetruck sells equipment designed for specific, rugged worksites and industries, including a variety of forklifts and logstackers.
Anhui Forklift Group Corporation Ltd. (Heli)
Anhui Forklift Group evolved from a company founded in 1958 that manufactured mining equipment. Today, the company sells its products worldwide and has headquarters in China, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America.
With more than 2,000 industrial truck products, Anhui Heli offers a wide selection of forklifts, including lithium-ion and lead-acid electric models, internal combustion forklifts, heavy forklifts and wheel loaders.
Doosan Industrial Vehicle
Doosan Industrial Vehicle is a division of the Doosan Corporation, a company with roots that extend back to 1896. That’s when Park Seung Jik opened a small trading store in Seoul, Korea (now South Korea), that sold various goods and commodities. Over the years, the business diversified and became involved in manufacturing, construction, chemicals, machinery and other industries.
The company’s material handling division is now based in Buford, Georgia, and sells electric and internal combustion forklifts as well as narrow aisle vehicles and pallet trucks.
Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. (G&B)
Godrej is an India-based company founded in 1897 by Ardeshir and Pirojsha Godrej as a lock and safe manufacturer. Over the following years, the company expanded its focus, introducing its first forklifts in the 1950s. Today, the massive company has several divisions, including consumer appliances, security solutions, construction and hi-tech aerospace components. Yup, in addition to being a forklifts manufacturer, it fabricates spacecraft parts.
Also, Godrej’s headquarters is a whole town. Seriously, here is a quote from the company’s website, “These values were carried forward by Pirojsha’s son Naval Godrej who laid the foundation for the urban township of Pirojshanagar in Vikhroli, Mumbai. It is now home to over 10,000 families who live and work at G&B, and it is where the company’s global headquarters and key operations continue to be located.”
As you may have guessed, Godrej offers an extensive forklift product line that includes electric, diesel and petroleum-powered forklifts.
Founded under the name Hangzhou Mechanical Repair Factory in 1956, Hangcha Group began as a state-owned enterprise (i.e., owned and operated by the Chinese government). The company’s sole focus was producing internal combustion forklifts. By the time Hangcha transitioned into a private share-holding company in 2000, its product line had expanded and gained recognition in international markets.
Hangcha Group sells electric, internal combustion, heavy-duty and automated forklifts.
Hyundai Material Handling
Long before it was known for Hyundai and Kia automobiles, this company was responsible for building many of South Korea’s expressways and other major transportation infrastructures. The Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company was founded in 1947. By 1972, the company created the Hyundai Material Handling division. However, it wouldn’t introduce its first forklift to North America until the year 2000.
Hyundai Material Handling provides a full line of electric forklifts, diesel forklifts and pallet jacks.
Lonking Holdings Limited is a Chinese construction machinery manufacturer that produces a range of heavy equipment, including forklifts. Lonking was founded in 1993 in Longyan, Fujian. Today, the business is one of the largest construction manufacturers in China. Its focus is wheel loaders, road rollers, excavators and forklifts.
Lonking’s forklift product line includes electric, diesel and internal combustion forklifts.
Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks
Located in Nagaokakyo, Kyoto, Japan, Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks was initially founded in 1870 as a shipbuilding company. For the past century and a half, the company has gone through many name and inventory changes. Twenty-five years ago, the business shifted its focus to industrial equipment, became a fork lift manufacturer and changed its name to Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks.
Thanks to several acquisitions, Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks operates worldwide and sells forklifts under several brands, including Logisnext, UniCarriers and, of course, Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks.
Compared to many other companies on this list, Sany is a relative newcomer. The Hunan, China-based company was founded in 1989 as a small welding factory. The company grew rather quickly and expanded its product range to include a wide variety of construction and heavy equipment.
In 2006, Sany opened a manufacturing facility in Peachtree City, Georgia, where the company produces a variety of industrial vehicles, including a complete line of forklifts.
To ensure all brands of forklifts operate at peak efficiency, Texas Motive Solutions offers a complimentary forklift fleet performance analysis for all forklift repair and battery needs. Call us at (888) 316-2459 or fill out this form to learn about our services and discover everything we can do for you.