A Brief History of Clark Forklifts
What are the important points in the history of Clark Forklifts?
- The birth of CLARK
- From drill manufacturers to industrial front runners
- The evolution of the forklift
A forklift in the Philippines is usually a small industrial vehicle that has a forked platform attached in front that can be raised and lowered, hence the name forklift. The forks are used for easy insertion under cargo for better ease of lifting or moving it. Because of its small size, trademark lifting abilities, and customization, the forklift can be found in various industries—but of course, it excels the most in large storage facilities such as warehouses.
Forklifts today are usually powered by either a battery or a combustion energy. They come in a lot of different shapes and sizes but are still known for being the compact powerlifter that it originally was. When you think about it, forklifts have been around for a very long time. In fact, you can date back the origins of the forklift with the growth of one company, in particular, the originators of the Forklifts—Clark.
With how much use forklifts have been getting in the past century, there’s no wonder that these small industrial machines have stayed incredibly relevant. In fact, there’s almost no competition! During its time, the Clark forklift or what it was called at made a huge wave within the industrial sectors! And here’s a glimpse of that wave—a brief history of the original Clark Forklifts!
The Birth of CLARK
The year 1903 was still part of the era of the railroad but was on the cusp of the age of the automobile and the airplane. Executives from the Illinois Steel Company decided to form a separate company that furnished drills that should survive the fast pace of boring railroad rails. This company was named George R. Rich Manufacturing Company, named after the mechanic that came up with the design of the drill.
One year later, through a lot of ups and downs, the company found itself in need of help—in which they hired a young engineer named Eugene B. Clark. With Clark’s schooling and interest in electrical engineering, and the transition from steam to electrical power, he was the perfect person for the job! A year after Clark took over, the company flourished! He, later on, changed the name of the company to the Celfor Tool Company, named after the drill he invented.
For 12 years the company maintained their stride. All was well, but an opportunity for even greater heights appeared when R.J. Burrows, the Chief Engineer of Lee & Porter looked to Mr. Clark for work since the Lee & Porter Axle Works plan burned to the ground on a cold February morning. Clark then set Mr. Burrows to work on designing an internal-gear type truck axle that would eventually replace chain drives that were widely used then. This eventually led to the Clark Axle and when it earned the respect of the industry, it eventually leads to the merging of the Celfor Tool Company in the Buchanan Electric Steel Company, finally forming the Clark Equipment Company.
From Drill Manufacturers to Industrial Front Runners
With Clark Equipment at the forefront of its industry, they continued to innovate. One such innovation that started it all is the invention of the world’s first internal combustion powered materials handling truck which they called the Tructractor. Initially used internally, visitors to the plant got impressed and asked Clark to build these Tructractors for them—eight of which in 1918, and a whopping 75 pieces by 1919.
This eventually led to the formation of the Clark Tructractor Company, the ancestor of today’s Clark Material Handling Company! Up until 1922 they continued to build on the tructractor, eventually resulting in the Trucklift, an internal combustion-powered platform lift truck that used hydraulics instead of mechanical gears and linkages to lift its load.
The Evolution of the Forklift
This started the production line of many different Clark tractors that became the precursor to the modern-day forklifts! In 1923, the Duat Tow tractor was used to pull trailer loads of different materials. And in 1924, the Duat got modified with an optional tiering attachment, ultimately becoming the world’s first internal combustion forklift truck!
The next iteration of forklifts came in 1928 with the Tructier, an internal combustion forklift truck that uses hydraulics to lift its load. In 1938 the Carloader was then introduced. It’s the first modern short-coupled internal combustion forklift truck that was mass-produced from its very introduction.
During World War II CLARK produced almost 90% of the military needs for forklifts and tow trucks that by the time that it ended CLARK and forklifts were almost considered synonymous!
And finally, after that, CLARK continued to innovate and create newer and better versions of the forklift, eventually reaching the 500,000th manufactured forklift by 1976 and the 1,000,000th one in 1997.
Through the years, the CLARK forklift has changed drastically, from simple tow trucks with chain and gear attachments, to sophisticated hydraulics and electricity powered forklifts. CLARK has ultimately taken over the world of forklifts—which they basically invented. They also focus on spreading safety precautions and guides on how to effectively, and safely operate the modern day forklift.
So don’t just stare whenever you see a forklift in the Philippines. Appreciate just how much history it has within it. If you are in Cebu and in need of the world-renowned attributes that CLARK Forklifts have to offer, visit or contact MULTICO for questions and inquiries!