CLARK will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the forklift in 2017. With its range of outstanding products and services, “CLARK – The Forklift” has been a leading supplier of in-plant logistics solutions since the first combustion engine-powered industrial forklift was invented in 1917 by American engineer Eugene Bradley Clark. Global manufacturer CLARK Material Handling Company offers customers and dealers a full range of combustion engine-powered and electric counterbalance trucks and warehouse equipment. In addition, its selection of services and spare parts has also been significantly expanded over recent years. To coincide with the start of its 2017 anniversary year, CLARK has announced a centennial edition of the combustion engine-powered C20-35 series.


The Tructractor: looking back at the year 1917

An ability to develop innovative solutions is the common theme running through CLARK’s history, a story that began in Eugene Bradley Clark’s factory in Buchanan, Michigan, USA. The mechanical engineer and entrepreneur manufactured drills for the rail industry and steel rims and axles for cars. He sought an answer to the efficiency question of how to move materials from A to B more quickly and cheaply without the need for muscle power. A team of CLARK employees built a threewheel platform truck with a cargo box for hauling loads up to two tonnes. It was a strange vehicle – the steering was reversed and there were no brakes – but the “Tructractor”, as it was named, served its purpose. It was followed by the first petrol-driven truck, the Truclift, in 1920, before CLARK went on to launch the first forklift with a hydraulic lift, the Tructier, in 1928.

CLARK is synonymous with forklifts

Drive efficiency became a major focus in 1942,when CLARK built the Carloader, the first electrically powered forklift capable of working a full shift. In 1943, the company was the first forklift manufacturer to attach warning and safety stickers. By then, the company had become so well-known the name CLARK had become synonymous with forklifts, and it dominated the industrial truck market in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1952, CLARK expanded its portfolio to include driver training programmes, which had never been offered before. Another major advance in technology came in 1956, when CLARK developed the first nested upright with I-beams. This innovative design significantly improved the stability of the upright. 1967 saw two major successes, CLARK introduced the first overhead guard as standard in all sitdown trucks. The company also developed and marketed the TW – the first highly manoeuvrable three-wheel electric forklift. In 1976, CLARK produced its 500,000th forklift – reaching the one million mark in 1997.


On course for further growth in 2017 “Of the more than 1.3 million CLARK forklifts produced since 1917, a good half is still in use. This underlines our claim of not only offering the best value for money, but also the most robust forklifts on the market,” said Stefan Budweit, Sales Director at CLARK Europe GmbH.

New vehicles – high customer satisfaction

The new CLARK SRX14 and SRX16 (48 volt) reach trucks with load capacities of 1.4 to 1.6 tonnes and lift heights of up to 10.5 metres are also making a name for themselves. “They have become very well established in the market and the response has been extremely positive,” said Rolf Eiten, a year after the launch.“Our strategy of systematically developing new equipment and selectively optimising and expanding existing product groups shows that we have our finger firmly on the pulse of the market. The new CLARK GTS20-33 D/L forklift series also demonstrates that.”

CLARK is currently developing new combustion enginepowered forklifts with a capacity of 2.0 to 3.5 tonnes, which are also aimed at the volume market.

A strategic outlook in 2017

The company’s planned organic growth will begin at its European headquarters in Duisburg. Acquired in 2014, it opens up a wide range of possibilities for CLARK by offering administration and training areas, workshop, spare parts store and forklift warehouse with more than 150 stock machines.

Centennial celebrations in Lexington, Kentucky In May 2017, CLARK employees from around the world will gather at the US headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky, to celebrate the company’s long journey towards becoming a global cult brand in the forklift industry.