Hoist Liftruck Mfg. LLC

Giving a lift to American manufacturing
Written by: 
E.C. Gregg
Produced by: 
Victor Martins

Based on outward appearance alone, an automotive assembly factory, a steel manufacturing plant and a lumber yard may not seem to have much in common, yet each one can find great use for high-capacity forklifts.

And if that lifting equipment is made in a certain East Chicago, Indiana, manufacturing plant, there’s another common thread. While the purpose of all heavy material handling equipment may be to keep production on track and employees safe, the founder of Hoist Liftruck Mfg. LLC, Marty Flaska, believed his company could support the American economy in a more fundamental way.

Hoist Liftruck Mfg. LLC

Which is why all of Hoist Liftruck's heavy-duty cushion tire, pneumatic forklifts and container handlers are manufactured at the company’s 550,000-square-foot Indiana factory. Similarly, all purchased components are sourced and made in the U.S., including Cummins engines, Dana transmissions and perhaps most significantly, steel.

“Our goal is to keep the U.S. dollar in America and in that way really help support the customers, vendors and communities that support us,” says Marketing Director Jentry Prine. 

In this way, Prine says Hoist Liftruck not only supports 400 employees in Indiana, but over 500,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs through the company’s many vendors.

Hoist Liftruck’s internal combustion and electric equipment are used in the automotive, stamping, lumber, concrete, forging, and general manufacturing industries. They are also used by the military, oil and gas companies as well as marinas.

“Some of our biggest customers are actually steel manufacturers located in the midwest, so when they buy our trucks they are actually supporting their own industry,” Prine says.

Origins of American-made

Making entirely American-made products has been a priority for Flaksa since the beginning.

Flaska, who was born and raised in Chicago, founded Forklift Exchange, a buyer and seller of used forklifts equipment, in 1980. After building a reputation in the industry, Flaska acquired the rights to build cushion tire forklifts from Silent Hoist and Crane, which allowed him to expand his business and rename it to Hoist Liftruck in 1994. That same year, Flaska moved the company’s headquarters into a multi-building complex in Bedford Park, Illinois. 

Hoist Liftruck Mfg. LLC

“From that point we were able to grow very quickly because most of our competitors have a lead times that could be a year plus, while we are able to deliver our trucks in half that time,” Prine says.

The reason for this fast delivery comes back to Hoist’s commitment to use American-made materials. Instead of waiting months for steel or purchased components from oversees, Prine says Hoist can tap into a vendor list of over 400 different manufacturers ranging in everything from coatings to engines. 

The company’s industry-best lead-times and quality products resulted in ever-increasing sales and soon had it busting at the seams of its Bedford Park location. So in 2016, Hoist moved to its current 550,000-square-foot location in East Chicago, Indiana, the largest lift truck manufacturing facility of its kind in North America. 

Prine says the goal of the new location was to streamline movement between departments and create a manufacturing process in which raw materials enter on one side of the building and finished and inspected forklifts and liftrucks exit the other side. 

“Our old location was spread over multiple buildings so materials had to be transported between different departments as the product moved between welding, assembly, electrical, testing and shipping,” she says. “The new location is all under one roof with a linear material flow. This configuration allows us to build our products a lot more efficiently, resulted in reduced lead times.”

New terminal territory

Prine says the new location will be instrumental in helping Hoist Liftruck double in size over the next two to five years, and has already allowed the company to introduce a new product, the Hoist T-Series terminal tractor.

This is Hoist Liftruck’s first venture into manufacturing terminal tractors, which are used in ports, warehouses, cargo yards and intermodal facilities to move semi trailers. The Hoist T-Series terminal tractor is offered in both off road and DOT versions, and the company is also introducing an electric version, called the Hoist TE-Series, ideal for environmentally conscious buyers. 

Hoist Liftruck Mfg. LLC

“This is very exciting for Hoist because we’ve always been the go-to for the forklift industry, but with the addition of our terminal tractor series, our customers can now get everything they need in one spot,” Prine says. 

Just like with all of the company’s other products, Hoist always invites customers to inspect the Hoist T-Series before it is shipped out the door. 

“We work very closely with our customers to ensure we are not only meeting their expectations, but exceeding them as well,” Prine says.

Hoist Liftruck is in the middle of building a “customer center” next to the manufacturing plant. Prine says customers will be able to sit in a specially-designed atrium and watch Hoist Liftruck test their newly-purchased lift trucks.

“We already have a pretty good sized testing facility, but we’re always looking for ways to show off the quality of our products,” Prine says. After all, it’s easy to be transparent when you know exactly who produced every component on the machine. 

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Bridgeview Bank