Combilift — Customized Handling SolutionsFriday, February 1, 2008
By: Tim O’Neill
Robert Moffett, a highly qualified engineer and developer of the Moffett Mounty truck mounted forklift teamed up with Martin McVicar, a former engineering manager at Moffett Engineering, to create a product that would help save space while handling long and bulky loads in tight spaces. In 1998, after extensive research and testing, Moffett and McVicar had designed the Combilift, the world's first engine-powered, all wheel drive, multi-directional forklift.
When setting out on this project, the aim was to provide their customers with a more flexible alternative to the combination of forklifts to manage the different needs of loading, unloading and manuevering products around a warehouse. At the time Combilift was introduced on the market, it was considered a radical change in material handling.
When Combilift was ready to sell their product they aimed for the international market, looking to export their product instead of concentrating solely on the domestic market.
Initial Combilift customers were excited about the C4000, a 4-ton capacity lift. The customers realized they could get rid of the multiple forklifts they were operating at the time and could use just one forklift to accomplish the same job as two or three other forklifts.
The company sold 18 Combilifts in the first year, 17 were exported. The first Combilift ever sold in Ireland is still in use today, proving that the Combilift is just as durable as it is innovative.
By 2001, production of the Combilift had reached 300 trucks and the market expanded from timber and PVC to include other products such as steel and aluminium.
That year was one of milestones, both for the company and McVicar. Combilift won the DHL Exporter of the Year and McVicar was named Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Not being content to sit back, Combilift expanded their global market and recorded sales in 60 countries. A substantial investment was made in the research and development department resulting in the regular introduction of newer models with capacities reaching 10 tons.
With so much growth,the company quickly ran out of room at the original Clontibret, Ireland facility, even after expanding their floor space to 60,000 square feet. In 2003 Combilift purchased an old factory overlooking the town of Monaghan. After extensive work, the larger Combilifts rolled off the new manufacturing lines in 2006.
Combilift invested in a wholly owned subsidiary, Combilift USA, based in Greensboro, N.C. This facility provides support for all of North America.
The acquisition of a newly transformed state of the art manufacturing facility, which incorporates an administrative center and a separate research and development block, will enable production of 2,000 units per year.
"We now have a facility capable of producing one unit per hour to cope with an expected increase in demand," McVicar said.
According to McVicar, the company will continue to develop a new model each year and they aim to have a Combilift in every country by 2010. For more information call Combilift USA at 877/COMBI-56, or Combilft Ltd. Ireland at +353/47-80500 or visit www.combilft.com