Mast of the time

20 March 2008

From February, the S Series forklift features the JCB Dieselmax EPA-compliant four-cylinder diesel e

From February, the S Series forklift features the JCB Dieselmax EPA-compliant four-cylinder diesel engine. All models are available with four wheel drive.

For those people in the Midwest and Canada, April never guarantees sunbathing and flowers in the park. That's why if one should visit Sellick Equipment in Ontario around this time of the year, the company will offer coffee and a black knit cap. The staff will also send you out the door with an insulated–foam can holder, as a reminder that cool drinks by the lakeside are just around the corner.

It's a friendly company, and its story began in 1969, as Walter Sellick and his son, current President Howard, both worked for a Ford tractor dealership that was importing rough terrain forklifts from the US. The father–and–son team saw a market for rough–terrain vehicles in Canada and, with an American supply source in Detroit, began building product on its home turf in Canada to avoid the 50 percent US import duties in effect at the time.

Since this time, the company has grown in size and scope. Originally running the operation out of a 2,500–square–foot plant, Sellick eventually bought property off the company Green Giant and moved to its current headquarters, located in Harrow, Ontario, about 30 miles south of Windsor. This 70,000–square–foot facility is where administrative, sales and marketing happens, as well as the engineering and production of its machines and parts distribution.

The company's first product was a modified industrial Ford tractor conversion that Walter Sellick turned into a 6,000–pound forklift for outdoor use.

“We brought in a basic foreign industrial tractor, with no sheet metal, no wheels or tires – just an engine, transmission and rear axle,” says Howard's brother, Vice President David Sellick. “We added a frame to it and fender, wheels and tires. It started with a completely stripped–down tractor.”

The company says to this day its bread and butter is still these vehicles. In the past 36 years, Sellick has not only manufactured straight–masted machines, but also aircraft–tool tractors specifically for military applications and truck–mounted forklifts. Even for a short period in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, Sellick manufactured its own line of telescopic handlers. “We were into it up to 1991,” says David Sellick. “We got hammered in that. Then the recession hit here and all the big guys started getting into it.”

Strong presence

Today, the company claims to have a presence in all 50 states. Dell White, the company's sales and marketing manager who has been with the company for 22 years, says there are approximately 75 dealers with 230 locations throughout North America. Altogether, North America makes up 95 percent of sales for the company, with a 70–30 split in sales between the US and Canada. Outside North America its main markets are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Puerto Rico and Australia.

Sellick Equipment's Vice President David Sellick (left) and Sales and Marketing Manager Dell White stand in front of a near–completed S Series machine.

It owes some of its export business to Canadian oil exploration companies in Alberta that will ship forklifts inside transport containers carrying exploration equipment.

Sellick's international connections also stretch to the UK, where it has a link with manufacturer JCB. According to David Sellick, the company's founder approached JCB years ago at a Bauma show, asking about North American distribution of the Teletruk, JCB's industrial forklift truck fitted with a forward reach telescopic boom. This solidified an agreement that Sellick would distribute the variable forklift, which began in 2002. Dell White says Sellick has a designated territory in North America to sell and promote the machine, mostly covering Canada and the Great Lakes region.

The company announced this year that it will be carrying the newer model JCB Teletruk Highlift TLT30DHL two–wheel drive machine, which has a high lift boom of 16 feet, 10 inches and a forward reach of 10 feet, 10 inches.

The JCB link goes further: In February, Sellick's S Series line of forklifts began using the JCB Dieselmax 444 engine. David Sellick says this came from its association with International Transmission Limited (ITL), which sells engines, axles and transmissions to forklift companies, mining equipment, crane companies and more. White says there is no agreement with JCB in regards to the use of the engine; Sellick is simply a customer.

ABOVE: From February, the S Series forklift features the JCB Dieselmax EPA–compliant four–cylinder diesel engine. All models are available with four wheel drive.

LEFT: All the manufacturing of product is done at Sellick's 70,000 square foot plant in Harrow, Ontario.

“It helped streamline our manufacturing a little more and it has very nice specs,” says White in regards to the engine. He adds that the Dieselmax will be in every 4–liter and higher Sellick machine in the product line.

A look ahead

In regards to new product developments, Sellick confirms something is brewing.

“As a peak at the future, you could say that we will be expanding our rough terrain vertical mast product line,” says David Sellick.

The January/February issue of ALH included an article on the future of the straight–masted forklift. Although no one denies that the rise of the forward–reach machine has cut into the straight–mast sector, the consensus is the vertical mast is a staple in the industry.

“The straight mast, in its prime, was a 6,000–unit market; now it's a 4,000–unit market [per year]. There will always be a market for the straight, but it's probably not a high–growth market,” says David Sellick. “But, it will never disappear.”    

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