Hoist Liftruck evolved from humble beginnings. In 1980, Marty Flaska started Forklift Exchange from his house in the western suburbs of Chicago, specializing in buying, selling and renting material handling equipment.
Over the next decade, the company grew tremendously, and in 1994, Flaska acquired the rights to build material handling equipment from Brooklyn, New York-based Silent Hoist and Crane, and transforming it into Hoist Liftruck Mfg., Inc.
In a few years, Hoist Liftruck became the preferred vendor for high-capacity cushion-tire forklifts for the automotive, steel and aluminum industries. In need of a larger facility to accommodate the growing business, Hoist Liftruck moved its operations to Bedford Park, Illinois in 1998.
A few years later, Hoist Liftruck further solidified its position as a top U.S. material handling equipment manufacturer by acquiring another company with deep roots in the material handling industry, Cleveland-based Elwell-Parker.
In 2016, after outgrowing the Bedford Park facility thanks to growing sales numbers, Hoist moved to its current location in East Chicago, Indiana. What was once home to a tank manufacturing facility now houses the largest high-capacity lift truck manufacturing facility in North America.
Silent Hoist & Crane: A pioneer in material handling
Established in 1918, Brooklyn, New York-based Silent Hoist & Crane manufactured a variety of heavy-duty material handling equipment including forklifts, platform trucks, mobile cranes, container handlers and winches.
In the early 1920s, the port of New York was the main seaport in North America and arguably the most important in the world. The influx of cargo from the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Hudson and East rivers, was handled mainly by Silent Hoist & Crane equipment.
Silent Hoist & Crane took great pride in being an American manufacturer just as Hoist Liftruck does today. The presence of Silent Hoist & Crane equipment and its history can still be seen today. One of Hoist Liftruck’s first customers of its Neptune Series marina forklift had historic ties to Silent Hoist & Crane.
Grove Harbour Marina in Miami, Florida was originally home to Pan American Airways and its Clipper seaplanes running fights between Miami and Buenos Aires from 1930 to 1945. The basin where the Clipper seaplanes used to be towed out of the water is now the launching and retrieval area for boats. The old tracks are still intact and visible in the water, as well as the winch system that operated those tracks, which was manufactured by none other than Silent Hoist & Crane.
Elwell Parker: Innovators of the electric liftruck
Organized in 1893, Elwell-Parker Electric Co. was one of the innovators of electric-powered lift trucks, manufacturing industrial lift trucks to handle cargo and material in the Great Lakes region.
Searching for electric motors for his lift trucks, one of the company’s founders, Alexander Brown, came across motors designed by Thomas Parker and P. Bedford Elwell and purchased the rights to manufacture the motors in his factory.
As Elwell-Parker’s electric lift trucks were prominently seen working on the Pennsylvania Railroad moving luggage in the early 1900s, the company began to sell these trucks to general industries. As time went on, newer trucks designed by Elwell-Parker revolutionized storage methods in the country, manufacturing platform and pallet lift trucks that raised and lowered cargo at various heights (beginning of the modern day forklift). Elwell-Parker trucks could be seen handling paper rolls, heavy cargo and various other products.
By the 1980s, sales and employment were down mainly due to the economic woes of the automotive and steel industries. In order to stay in business, the company began to diversify its product line by increasing its specialized and automated products and moving away from its industrial trucks, which were being produced for less in other countries.
By the mid 1990s, the Towson family, who ran the company since its reorganization in 1920, sold their interest in the company (approximately 20% was employee-owned) to a group of buyers who renamed the company Elwell-Parker Ltd. Unable to turn the company around, the assets were sold to Hoist Liftruck in 2000.