Material handling equipment manufacturing is an incredibly lucrative industry as it supplies equipment to many different commerce and engineering-based markets. Forklifts are used extensively in the warehousing and distribution industry, manufacturing, and construction. They can be found inside warehouses, outside on an industrial material or drayage yard, and on construction job sites both big and small.
Forklift sales alone accounted for over $50 Billion in 2019. While forklift sales did decline during the COVID-19 global pandemic and recession, the market is beginning to stabilize again, and sales are expected to grow at a cumulative rate of 2% through 2027. Global forklift shipments are expected to surpass 3 million by 2026.
When it comes to manufacturing highly efficient and durable forklifts, not all companies are created equal. There are many players in the forklift manufacturing industry, but a few stand out more than others. These top forklift manufacturers do several things better than their competition. From engineering specialized equipment that fits a niched and deserving need to designing forklifts that are durable enough to withstand any kind of working environment. Some forklift manufacturers make more standard equipment, but they do so at an exceptional cost for both the equipment purchase and the cost of ownership.
Here is a look at what the top 10 forklift manufacturers of 2021 get right, and why you should consider these brands when purchasing your next forklift.
The Toyota brand is known for its reliability in everything it manufacturers. Their forklifts are no different. Toyota has been a top forklift manufacturer for several years and most of their forklift equipment for the western hemisphere is made right in the USA at their massive Columbus, IN facility. Toyota also has one the largest dealer networks in North America that sell their equipment throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. This expansive dealer network has many used forklifts for sale, in addition to new ones. Buying used is a great option that can save you some immediate operating cash and some room on your equipment budget.
As you might expect from a top Japanese manufacturer, Toyota is leading the way regarding electric powered forklift trucks, offering several electric models in their traditional forklift lines, as well as a fully electric order picker.
Crown is an American forklift manufacturer who makes their forklifts right in America’s rust belt. They operate over 1.5 Million acres of forklift manufacturing plants in West Central, OH. They also have plants in Indiana, as well as North Carolina.
Crown specializes in manufacturing high powered electric forklift trucks. Their commitment to sustainability has landed them contracts with all the companies on the Newsweek’s list of the top 10 green companies in the US. They also service 7 of the 10 companies on Newsweek’s global list of the top green companies. Their major client list also includes nearly 90% of the companies on the Forbes 500 list, and over half of the Forbes list of the 50 most innovative companies.
If you are looking for a high-powered electric forklift, order picker, reach truck, or scissor lift, then you cannot go wrong with a Crown.
Hyster-Yale Materials Handling (HYMP)
HYMP is the parent company that houses both the Hyster and the Yale Forklift brands. Since acquiring both forklift manufacturers, HYMP consistently ranks as a global leader in the material handling equipment industry. They have a continuously growing foothold in North America, Central and South America, Asia, and Eastern-Europe.
The Yale forklift brand is one of the oldest heavy equipment manufacturers in the world. They have been at it for almost 180 years. The secret to their success can be found within their tagline - People, Products, Productivity. These three key areas of business are top priority to Yale and it shows in their outstanding forklift equipment.
Hyster is another long-standing brand in the material handling industry. Founded in 1929, they have been going strong for close to a century. They are a true American bootstrapped company that started with their invention of one of the first hoists for logging trucks in the Pacific Northwest. Since then, Hyster has been a leading manufacturer of quality and durable material handling equipment.
Kion Group is another recurring name on any list of top forklift manufacturers. Like HYMP, Kion also comprises two major forklift manufacturers - Linde and Baoli. Linde has been manufacturing well-made forklift equipment for over 150 years and services Kion’s North American customers. Baoli is the international forklift brand for Kion, selling in all major international markets.
The Kion Group forklift products consist of diesel pneumatic and propane cushion tire models, as well as eclectic counterbalance models.
While Jungheinrich Group is based in Germany, they have a strong foothold in North America, making them a major player in the international material handling industry. Their North American dealer network consists of more than 400 dealerships that sell electric forklifts, order pickers, reach trucks, tow trucks, and walkies. Jungheinrich Group grossed over $3.8 Billion in global forklift sales in 2020, across over 40 countries.
Anhui Heli Forklift
This is one of the biggest forklift manufacturers in Asia. They have led the Chinese market for almost 30 years, consecutively. Anhui Heli engineers internal combustion engines, as well as electric and lithium powered forklift trucks. As China is a major sea importer and exporter, Anhui Heli offers a line of empty container stackers, a product that is rather unique among major forklift manufacturers.
Komatsu is the second largest forklift manufacturer in the world. Their international footprint consists of 25 plants. Their forklift division specializes in manufacturing internal combustion pneumatic and cushion tire forklifts as well as electric powered models.
Hangcha has been an international forklift manufacturer for over 50 years. They produce a full line of internal combustion engines and eclectic-powered forklift equipment. Hangcha is also known for their explosion-proof model which is another example of a top forklift brand meeting the needs of a niche market.
Clark Material Handling
Clark has been manufacturing material handling equipment since 1917. Like some of the other century old forklift manufacturers, they have learned a few things over the years. They pride themselves on having one of the broadest offerings of forklift equipment, spanning five major lines, and they also pride themselves on taking care of their most important asset - their employees. They have been ranked among the best places to work in their home state of Kentucky.
Clark truly powers the material handling industry. There are over 250,000 Clark forklifts in use in North America and over 350,000 worldwide. Their forklift product offerings span the entire range of fuel types and lift capacities.
Mitsubishi Logisnext is a collection of multiple forklift brands that operate in the United States under the UniCarriers line. This line includes two Japanese brands - Mitsubishi and Nissan. UniCarriers is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Logisnext. The Mitsubishi Logisnext family of forklift manufacturers gross over $4 Billion, annually.
Buy from the Best
If you are looking to buy a quality and reliable forklift, then buy one from one of the forklift manufacturers detailed on this list. And if you are looking for some added value, consider buying a used forklift from a reputable dealer. This is an excellent way to save some immediate cash and some space on your equipment budget.