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Forklift industry merger and acquisition history


From the very start, the forklift industry has been riddled with various mergers, buyouts, collaborations, and acquisitions. This can make it confusing to keep track of OEMs when ownership of a forklift brand is constantly changing. Check out this timeline of the history of the major manufacturers in the forklift industry to help you make sense of your products.

The 1800s

  • 1868, Yale: Yale Lock Manufacturing Co. (USA) is formed, later becoming Yale and Towne Manufacturing Co.
  • 1890, Caterpillar: Caterpillar (USA) is founded by Benjamin Holt and Daniel Best.
  • 1896, Doosan: The Doosan Group (South Korea) is founded.
  • 1898, Baker: Baker Motor Vehicle Co. (USA) is founded to build electric cars. Soon, Baker increases its product line to include electric load trucks.

1900 – 1920

  • linde forklift1901, Allis-Chalmers: The Allis-Chalmers Company (USA) is founded.
  • 1903, Allis-Chalmers: Allis-Chalmers acquires the Bullock Electric Company.
  • 1907, Linde: The Linde Air Products Company (Germany) is established.
  • 1915 Lewis-Shepard is established in Watertown, Massachusetts
  • 1917, Komatsu: Komatsu Iron Works (Japan) is established, later becoming Komatsu Ltd. In 1921.
  • 1919, Clark: Clark Tructractor Company (USA) is established as a division of the Clark Equipment Company.
  • 1919, Towmotor: Towmotor Corporation (USA) is founded.

1920 – 1940

  • 1920s, Hyster: Hyster’s (USA) parent companies, Electric Steel Foundry and Willamette Iron & Steel Works, are established.
  • 1920, Mitsubishi: Shibaura Works of Ohte-Shokai K.K. is established as a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., which eventually becomes Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (Japan).
  • 1922, Raymond: Raymond Corporation (USA) is formed.
  • 1926, Toyota:  Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, Ltd. (now Toyota Industries Corporation) started building automatic looms.
  • 1929, Linde: Linde takes over Güldner-Motoren-Gesellschaft, a German engine and tractor manufacturer.
  • 1930s, Yale: Yale acquires BKS forklifts in Germany.
  • 1930, Raymond.  Raymond builds first material handling product under Lyon name.
  • 1934, Hyster: Electric Steel Foundry and Willamette Iron & Steel Works have combined into Willamette Hyster Company and an early straddle-carrier forklift model is produced.

1940 – 1960

  • 1942, CESAB: CESAB (Italy) is founded.
  • 1943, Cascade: Cascade Manufacturing Co. (USA) is founded.
  • 1944, Hyster: Willamette Hyster Company is renamed Hyster Company.
  • 1945, Crown: Crown Equipment Corporation (USA) is founded.
  • 1946, BT: BT Forklifts (Sweden) is founded.
  • 1947, Hyundai: The Hyundai Group (South Korea) is founded.
  • 1949, TCM: Toyo Carriers Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (Japan) is founded.
  • 1950, Prime-Mover: The Prime-Mover Company (USA) is founded by the Home-O-Nize Company of Iowa.
  • 1952, Komatsu: Komatsu acquires Ikegai Automobile Manufacturing Co. and Chuetsu Electro Chemical Co.
  • 1952, Mitsubishi: Mitsubishi is renamed Mitsubishi Nippon Heavy-Industries, Ltd.
  • 1953, Jungheinrich: Establishment of H. Jungheinrich & Co. Maschinenfabrik (Germany).
  • 1953, Allis-Chalmers: Allis-Chalmers acquires the Buda Engine Co., adding diesel engines to its product line.
  • 1956, Toyota: Toyota Motor Corporation (Japan) introduces its first forklift model, the LA 1-ton truck.
  • 1956, Towmotor: Towmotor acquires Gerlinger Carrier Company.
  • 1957, Nissan: The first Nissan (Japan) forklift is produced.
  • 1958, Heli:  Anhui Heli (China) is established

1960 – 1980

  • yale forklift1960s, Doosan:
    Korea Machinery Co., Ltd. begins importing forklifts as part of a national machinery expansion project.
  • 1962, Halla: Hyundai International Inc. is founded.
  • 1963, Yale: Yale merges with Eaton Manufacturing.
  • 1963, Towmotor: Towmotor acquires Ohio Gear Company.
  • 1965, Caterpillar, Towmotor: Towmotor becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Tractor Company.
  • 1968, Hyster acquires Lewis-Shepard (USA Mass.)
  • 1976, TCM: TCM America (MBK), Inc. is established.
  • 1976, Doosan: Korea Machinery merges into Daewoo Heavy Industries Ltd.
  • 1977, Baker, Linde: Linde acquires Baker Material Handling Corporation.  Baker Forklift parts are now known as Linde forklift parts.
  • 1978, Halla: Hyundai International Inc. is rebranded as the Halla Group (South Korea).

1980 – 2000

  • 1980s, Allis-Chalmers: Allis-Chalmers begins selling off some of its subsidiaries in the face of rapid economic change.
  • 1980, Hoist: Forklift Exchange is founded in the suburbs of Chicago, IL.
  • 1983, Hyster: Hyster closes Portland OR manufacturing plant
  • 1984, Hyster: Hyster Company is acquired by ESCO Corporation.
  • 1984, Linde: Linde acquires Fenwick, the largest French lift truck manufacturer.
  • 1985, Yale: Yale is acquired by NACCO Industries, Inc., and Yale Materials Handling Corporation is established.
  • 1985, Komatsu: Komatsu America Manufacturing Corp. and Komatsu America Industries LLC are both established in the U.S.
  • 1986, Cascade: Cascade forms a joint venture with Xiamen Forklift Company of China (Xiamen-Cascade Corp., Ltd.).
  • 1988, Toyota: Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing, Inc. (TIEM) is established in Indiana as a joint venture with Toyota Motor Corporation.
  • 1988, TCM: TCM Manufacturing USA, Inc. is founded.
  • 1988, Kalmar: Kalmar takes over Allis Chalmers forklift activities effectively ending Allis Chalmers brand name in forklift industry.
  • 1988, Prime-Mover: Prime-Mover is acquired by BT Industries AB of Sweden.
  • hyster forklift1989, Hyster: Hyster Company is acquired by NACCO Industries, Inc.
  • 1989, Linde: Linde acquires Lansing Bagnall, a British forklift manufacturer.
  • 1992, Yale: Yale Europe Materials Handling is established.
  • 1992, Caterpillar, Mitsubishi: Caterpillar and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries together form Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America, Inc. (MCFA).
  • 1993, Nissan: Nissan Forklift Corporation North America is established.
  • 1993, Komatsu: Komatsu Cummins Engine Co., Ltd. and Cummins Komatsu Engine Company are established in Japan and the U.S., respectively.
  • 1994, Hyster, Yale: NACCO Materials Handling Group, Inc. (NMHG) is established.
  • 1994, Hoist: Forklift Exchange acquires Silent Hoist and Crane, a Brooklyn-based company. It is rebranded as Hoist Liftruck Manufacturing, Inc. (USA).
  • 1994, Jungheinrich.  Jungheinrich takes over UK based Boss group.
  • 1995, Toyota: Toyota Industrial Equipment, S.A. (TIESA) is established in France as a joint venture with Toyota Motor Corporation and Manitou B.F.
  • 1997, BT, Raymond: Raymond Corp. is acquired by BT Industries AB for $353 million, and BT Raymond is established.
  • 1997, Halla: Halla collapses under the pressure of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.  Halla Forklift was purchased by Hyundai Heavy Industries in 1998, which started Hyundai Construction Equipment into the forklift business.  
  • 1998, Clark: Clark Material Handling Company acquires the Samsung Fork Lift Company of Korea.
  • 1998, Allis-Chalmers: The remaining Allis-Chalmers manufacturing companies are divested.
  • 1998, Combilift:  Combilift started in Ireland
  • 1999, Kalmar-AC:  Kalmar sells the  former Allis Chalmers business unit it acquired in 1988 to Komatsu.  Kalmar remains a big lift truck/reach stacker specialist.  Komatsu attempts to market units under Tusk brand name but eventually discontinues Tusk in 2010.

2000 – present day

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This information was gathered from the histories published on the websites of the various companies included on the timeline. Supporting information was also found through news sites, like those linked in some of the information above.

Copyright 2022 Intella Parts.  You may link to this post but please do not copy it.

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11 thoughts on “Forklift industry merger and acquisition history”

  1. Looking for information on the automatic transportation company (Sky lift) and who might have purchased the company. I think Yale had something to do with this.

    Don Eno
    1. Yale bought them back in the 1970s I think. Pretty much obsolete.

  2. Not much mention of the British companies, for example:
    Montgomerie Reid taking over Wessex Industries in March 1970
    Hamech buying Ransome, Sims and Jeffres plus Montgomerie Reid then Crown buying Hamech
    Lansing Bagnall buying Bonser
    Lancer buying Steinbock then being Acquired by Jungheinrich
    Plus much more
    Looks a little bit more like “Forklift industry merger and acquisition history of the USA and Asia”

    Derek Martin
    1. If you have the dates I’d be glad to add to the timeline. Any supporting links would be appreciated as well!

  3. Dear Sirs,

    Congratulations to you and to INTELLA LIFTPARTS for this outstanding article and sharing it with ForkliftAction readers. Prior to this research article, I had never seen such a relevant Materials Handling Industry comprehensive history record. It is indeed worth keeping!

    Thank you and Best regards,
    Aldo S. Neves – Clark Material Handling South America/Clark CMH, Campinas, SP,

    Aldo da Silva Neves
  4. Great work. What about White, Pettibone, Mercury, and Lewis Shepard?

    Brian Price
    1. Whoa there are some names from the past. Lemme go to work…

      1. Lewis-Shepard history (establish date and acquisition by Hyster (1968) added

  5. Wondering why Toyota wasn’t mentioned until the 1950’s? Just like Cat & Yale, the company was founded in the 1800’s. If you go back and include Toyota’s history prior to the 1950’s, you’ll have an excellent timeline!

    Phillip Wise
    1. The 1926 start of Toyoda Loom works has been added. Thanks for feedback, appreciate it.

  6. Great job you did there. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot – fascinating, really. Thanks!

    Thomas Courtney III