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Personal Training for the Material-Handling World

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By: Samantha Donisi

As the manufacturer of the world’s first engine-powered, all wheel drive multidirectional forklift, Combilift has built its business around identifying a gap in the market and devising a niche solution for it.

Combilift was founded by entrepreneurs Martin McVicar and Robert Moffett in Clontibret, Co. Monaghan, Ireland in 1998. Substantial year on year growth of more than 20 percent has seen the company transformed from a small manufacturer of a niche product into the leading brand name in the global long-load handling market, according to Gearoid Hogan, vice-president of Marketing for the United States arm of the company.

That transformation included beginning to export to over 40 different countries within the first four years of operation, and branching out from a primary 8,000-pound model to models that run from 5,000-pounds all the way up to 55,000-pounds.

And what exactly is a Combilift?

“Combilift is a combination of a highly maneuverable lift truck and side-loader that provides safer product handling and increased productivity for a wide range of industries, adding the versatility of both indoor and outdoor use,” Hogan said. “Until the Combilift was launched, there was no one single forklift capable of providing the safe and space saving handling and storage of load loads in confined spaces.”

And it’s not just the product that’s spectacular. The company prides itself on superior customer service that revolves around tailoring the product to a specific need.

“Combilift acts as a personal trainer when it comes to manufacturing forklifts, Hogan said. “No matter the model, Combilift customers receive a product that has already been developed for a particular industry.”

According to Hogan, Combilift will customize an individual unit, but it’s built on a base unit that’s customized for that industry to start with. For example, to handle long, flexible loads, customers can choose the spreader bar attachment. For smaller loads such as pallets or in tight spaces, fold-up external forks are an option. For deep storage possibilities, telescopic forks serve as a solution.

The company puts its team of engineers at the customer’s disposal, as well. The engineers work strictly on warehouse design. If a company is putting up a new building, adding racking systems to an existing building or simply in need of more storage area, Combilift will offer up its engineers as free consultants who can offer advice as to how to make better use of current space, according to Hogan.

“When a piece of equipment is tailor-made, it is inevitable that productivity will increase, followed shortly by substantial savings that come in a variety of forms, Hogan said. “Now add to that equation a customized forklift in an equally customized facility. Its optimization in action!”

Hogan said that with the exception of some cases where particular customers need special fork-handling attachments, which can be procured from an outside supplier, Combilift has the capability to do everything onsite. And if an attachment isn’t available elsewhere, company engineers will design and manufacture it themselves.

“The forklift manufacturing process takes place on three assembly lines at Combilift’s 120,000-square-foot facility in Monaghan, Ireland,” he said. “Almost every aspect of fabrication takes place in-house. The chassis are welded, shot-blasted and painted at Combilift’s facility, as well.”

The company is proud of its reputation as one of the top 20 forklift manufacturers in the world. In 2006 the company opened the doors at its new manufacturing facility in Monaghan. The site is capable of producing over 2,000 units per year.

Today, with over 10,000 units in operation, Combilifts products can be found in over 50 markets worldwide and are available through Combilift’s international network of distributors.

For more information, and to watch the Combilift in action, visit the company’s website at

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