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Manitou, a company named after a French word meaning “it handles everything,” manufactures cement mixers, forklifts, aerial work platforms, wheel loaders, and telescopic handlers. Headquartered in Ancenis, France, today Manitou is a leading producer of rough terrain forklifts. Its products are geared towards use in construction, agriculture, lumberyards, mining, and waste treatment. Through its German-based subsidiary, Ahlmann Baumaschinen, it also produces a line of bulldozers. The company’s rise to success can be attributed to Marcel Braud who transformed a farm tractor into the world’s first rough terrain crane in 1957.[1]


[edit] History

[edit] A Family Venture

Manitou was founded in France by the Braud family. Mr. Braud, the family patriarch, wanted to build a manufacturing plant shortly before the onset of World War II to produce cement mixers, derricks, and motorized winches he had designed and received patents for. He was killed in 1944 during the liberation of his family’s hometown.[2]

Braud’s widow, wanting to realize her husband’s dream, in 1945 incorporated a company under her leadership in 1945 called Établissements Braud. Her son, Marcel Braud, joined the family business and oversaw the production of his father’s designs for a cement mixer and a derrick winch. The destruction and rebuilding of infrastructure in northern France as a result of World War II culminated in a demand for the company’s products.

[edit] Partnership of Braud and Faucheux

In 1953 Braud formed a partnership with Faucheux, another local supplier of construction materials. The newly formed company grew its product line to include cranes. Marcel Braud also starting working on an invention that would eventually become the company’s flagship product.

[edit] A Legacy in Forklifts

By 1957 Marcel Braud had designed his very first all terrain forklift using a three-wheeled dump truck on a base with a motorized forklift attachment that would prove useful for the construction industry. He continued working on his design and by 1958 had incorporated a four-wheeled McCormick tractor as its base. Known as the model MC 5, it had a reach of 9.2 feet (2.8 m) and could lift up to 2,205 pounds (1,000 kg).[3] Though originally designed for warehousing purposes, Braud saw an opportunity to tweak his invention for use in other industries. The MC 5 was also the first forklift to adopt the Manitou name.

In the late 1950s the MC 6 forklift, with a reach of 9.8 feet (3 m) and a lift capacity of 4,409 pounds (2,000 kg), was introduced to the market.[4] The MC 6 was used in both the construction and lumber industries. By 1961 Manitou had sold more than 500 forklifts.[5] The line up expanded over the coming decade to encompass the MC 7 and MB 20. By the end of the 1960s Manitou had sold over 10,000 forklifts and had grown its product line to include derricks.[6]

One of the factors attributed to the company's success in these early years was the use of components from its subsidiaries and thirty party manufacturers. For example, the company used both McCormick and International Harvester engines in some of its first forklifts. This openness to the use of third party products helped to propel Manitou’s growth well into the 1970s.

[edit] Era of Expansion

In 1972 the company moved to a new, larger location in Ancenis. Marcel Braud also took over the company with a plan to expand internationally. In 1973 Manitou opened up its foreign distribution subsidiary, Manitou Site Lift Ltd. in the U.K. Manitou also adapted its product line beyond the construction sector for use in agriculture.

[edit] A Long Relationship with Toyota

Throughout its years in business, Manitou established a long and beneficial partnership with Japanese manufacturer Toyota. In the 1970s when Toyota was preparing to launch its own line of electric-powered forklifts to France, it approached Manitou to become a distribution partner for its complementary line of forklifts that were geared towards lighter warehousing use. Manitou established Compagnie Fran&ccedilse de Manutention (CFM) for the distribution agreement.

In 1981 the relationship between Manitou and Toyota deepened when the two reached a licensing agreement to manufacture Toyota forklifts for the European market with the formation of Compagnie Industrielle de Matérials de Manutention (CIMM). By the 1990s Manitou would produce over 25,000 forklifts for Toyota.[7]

The partnership eventually led to the formation of a subsidiary with Toyota in 1995 called Toyota Industrial Equipment (TIE) of which Manitou held 34 percent ownership the assembling and delivery of Toyota’s forklifts to the European market.[8]

[edit] Adoption of the Manitou Name

The 1980s marked a corporate name change for Manitou with the adoption of the name Manitou BF in 1981. The same year, the company also introduced the first of its Maniscopic telescoping lifts and launched its first subsidiary outside Europe, KD Manitou Inc., based in Waco, Texas. It also became a publicly traded company listed on the Paris Stock Exchange in 1984.

[edit] Diversifying the Product Range

Throughout the 1990s Manitou focused on growing its product range. This involved joining with Treco to help form Manitou’s Belgian subsidiary, Mantrec S.A. Mantrec was involved in the production of a new line of electric-powered pallet loaders. The takeover of the Paris-based LOC Manutention served to expand and further complement the line of electric powered pallet loaders. In 1992 the company also pushed its way into the Asian market with the formation of its Asian subsidiary, Manitou Asia, in Singapore.

[edit] Forklifts for the Agricultural Market

Manitou forklifts were not just for use in construction but were also designed for use in the agricultural sector. In 1989 the company specifically designed the MLT Maniscopic series of lifter/loaders for the agricultural market. Eventually the market began to cease the use of traditional loaders in favor of Manitou’s Maniscopic telescoping forklifts.

This led Manitou to enter into an agreement with Fiat’s subsidiary New Holland in the '90s. New Holland, the European leader in agricultural vehicles, approached Manitou to collaborate on the creation of a Fiat-based plant that would manufacture telescopic lifts under its own brand name. The agreement called for Manitou to produce 2,000 telescopic forklifts per year.[9] Though the agreement encroached on the selling of Manitou’s own line of telescoping forklifts, the sale of the New Holland models actually boosted Manitou’s sales and positioned them as the leader in the manufacturing of all terrain forklift equipment.

[edit] Manitou Purchases Gehl

In October 2008 Manitou purchased compact equipment maker Gehl for approximately US$450 million.[10] The acquisition will give Manitou an opportunity to take advantage of Gehl’s distribution network as well as its distribution channels through Mustang to strengthen its presence in the U.S. construction and equipment markets.

[edit] The Company Today

Marcel Claude Braud, grandson of the company’s founder, currently oversees operations of Manitou. As of 2007 Manitou had achieved €1.260 million worth of net sales and had 2,667 employees.[11] It operates 17 subsidiaries and six production facilities and 500 point of sales  around the globe. Domestic sales are conducted through a network of 50 dealers backed by 100 service centers. Foreign sales, which account for 55 percent of the company’s total sales, are conducted through a network of 400 distributors in more than 90 countries.[12]

[edit] Equipment List

[edit] References

  1. History. Manitou Official website. 03-02-2009.
  2. Manitou Company History. Funding Universe. 02-06-09.
  3. Manitou BF SA. 03-02-2009.
  4. Manitou BF SA. 03-02-2009.
  5. Manitou BF SA. 03-02-2009.
  6. Manitou BF SA. 03-02-2009.
  7. Manitou BF SA.
  8. Manitou BF SA. 03-02-2009.
  9. Manitou BF SA. 03-02-2009.
  10. Manitou to Buy Gehl. AllBusiness. 03-02-2009.
  11. Manitou Presentation. Manitou Official website. 03-02-2009.
  12. Manitou BF SA.,03-02-2009.

[edit] External Links