Combilift is celebrating 15 years of business this year.

Established in 1998 by Martin McVicar and Robert Moffett, the company has achieved growth and success on a global scale in the materials handling sector and is now acknowledged as one of the world leaders in the market for long load handling solutions.

Before the arrival of Combilift, operations which needed to handle and store long loads relied on a combination of other types of forklifts, none of which were designed for their specific requirements. This not only compromised on safety procedures but was also time-consuming and required large areas to be set aside for manoeuvring and storing products.

The concept of a truck that could direct its wheels to move forwards, backwards and side to side at just the touch of a button changed the face of materials handling, according to Combilift. Starting with 18 Combilifts produced in 1998, over 18,000 units have since been sold and what was once seen as a niche solution for a few select applications is now an industry standard.

Apart from coming up with the initial idea for the truck’s design and four-way capabilities, Mr McVicar attributes Combilift’s success to a number of factors: ongoing and substantial investment in research and development, enabling at least one new model to be launched for every year of the company’s existence, the support of a worldwide network of dealerships, the willingness to listen to customers to determine actual market demand and to supply tailor made machines.

Mr McVicar said: “Customer feedback has been pivotal for new product development and as there is no one typical set of requirements for individual applications, our production line was configured at the outset to offer a very high degree of customisation. We also use standard and readily available components so that our products can be easily maintained and serviced wherever in the world they are being used.”

With the incorporation of the Aisle-Master articulated trucks into Combilift’s range in 2010, the company can now offer VNA solutions for pallet handling which has enabled the warehousing, 3PL, food and pharmaceutical sectors to benefit from maximum pallet density in any given space for lower per-pallet costs and more streamlined operations.

With regard to the future, Mr McVicar said: “Our strategy is to double our turnover in the coming five years. We are seeing significant sales increases in regions we recently entered such as the Far East, Central and South America. Demand in more traditional markets for our core range as well as new models continues to remain very buoyant. We will be introducing new models below and above our current capacities of 2.5 to 25 tonnes at product launches at major trade fairs this year and we expect to produce in excess of 3,000 units in 2013.”