Canada’s Quiet Contender

Quietly producing rough-terrain forklifts since the mid-1970s, Load Lifter Manufacturing Ltd., Toronto, Ontario, offers one of the widest ranges of straight-mast forklift models in the industry today. The company’s forklifts are used in the construction, agriculture, mining, forestry, lumber, and industrial markets and feature capacities ranging from 4,000 to 30,000 pounds and lift heights from 8 to 42 feet.

Load Lifter was founded by its Hedley Thomas, the current owner and president, in 1976 when he saw a need for a true four-wheel-drive, conventional rough-terrain forklift. At the time, the only products available in North America were converted tractors, and Thomas set out to develop a product that was purpose built. Load Lifter capitalized on this product and developed a loyal dealer organization that soon clamored for a telescopic product. Load Lifter began to design its second product range, the Reach 834, in the spring of 1981 and released it a year later. The Reach machine opened many more doors of opportunity across North America.

After a number of years of relying on these products, Load Lifter determined that in order to stay competitive in the telehandler market and participate in what was at the time the fastest growing segment, a larger Reach unit was required. When the company decided to move forward, Dave Tughan, operations manager, sought the assistance of Joe Barney, who has a long history working with the Ingersoll Rand VR Series (Now Skyjack VR) dealer organization and has decades of experience with these products.

Load Lifter also determined that in order to produce the larger telescopic handler and the entire lineup of straight-mast machines, it required a larger, more efficient production facility. In early 2008, the company broke ground on what will ultimately be a state-of-the-art 52,000-square-foot facility. According to Tughan, the assembly and warehouse facility are currently 95 percent complete, and the 12,000-square-foot fabrication building is currently underway. Load Lifter’s entire premises include 11 acres of land.

Of course, the decision to jump in on the project was made when few if any foresaw the current reversal of the market, but support for the project and new larger telehandler never wavered. Load Lifter took advantage of the most recent Rental Show to unveil its newest and most ambitious product launch when it introduced the 842-G.

Product impressions

As I reviewed this unit, it was apparent that Load Lifter takes a lot of pride in its product. Whether it is the Load Lifter name embossed on the optional fenders or its logo machined into the engine screen or on the operators control console, product pride is everywhere. A good example of just how meticulous the company can be is shown in the image below, where a simple yet highly effective protective sheave has been applied to the metal corner to prevent hose chafing.

The design of the unit was influenced by the VR Series telehandler, and with good reason: The VR is a well-designed product that has been quite successful for many years. A hallmark of that product is its excellent visibility, and great efforts were taken to embrace this feature. While the Load Lifter 842-G's design was inspired by the VR unit, Tughan pointed out that the company also has made a number of enhancements to make its product even more appealing.

For the full Lift and Access perspective, read this cover story in the July-August digital issue.