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Clark History

  • 1903: Founding

    Clark Equipment is born in the era of the railroad, in the city that is, at that time, the hub of the railway network, and it starts almost simultaneously with the age of the automobile and the airplane. It gets its start when the executives of the Illinois Steel Company form a small, separate company in the basement shop to furnish drills that will survive the fast pace of boring railroad rails. The company is named after the master mechanic that comes up with the design of the new drill, the George R. Rich Manufacturing Company. 

  • 1904: Eugene B. Clark

    Within a year of the company’s beginning, the business moves to larger quarters in Buchanan. Despite the move, however, the business falters and it is determined that the problem is in the metallurgy of the drill itself.

    To fix this, the company hires a consultant, a fellow employee of the Illinois Steel Copmany – a young engineer by the name of Eugene B. Clark. It is Clark’s special interest and schooling in electrical engineering that leads to this Cornell graduate’s recruitment. At the same time, nearly all industry is involved in the transition from centralised steam power to electrical power, and men who knew something about electricity are much in demand.

    Within a year after Eugene too charge, the young company is paying its bills on time and turning a profit. He changes the name of the company to the Celfor Tool Company, the name he has invented for the drill.

  • 1911: A New Process for Castings

    Clark Equipment is born in the era of the railroad, in the city that is, at that time, the hub of the railway network, and it starts almost simultaneously with the age of the automobile and the airplane. It gets its start when the executives of the Illinois Steel Company form a small, separate company in the basement shop to furnish drills that will survive the fast pace of boring railroad rails. The company is named after the master mechanic that comes up with the design of the new drill, the George R. Rich Manufacturing Company.

  • 1916: Development of a new Drive Axle

    The Buchanan Electric Steel Company is only the 2nd largest business in Buchanan until the Lee & Porter Axle Works plant burned to the ground one cold February morning. Lee & Porter’s Chief Engineer, R.J. Burrows comes to Mr. Clark looking for work.

    Although the Company makes disc wheels for automobiles, Eugene feels that cars are a luxury item and sees more profit potential in industrial trucks. He sets Mr. Burrows to work on designing an internal-gear type truck axle that will replace the chain drives so widely used in the early trucks.

    The result is the Clark Axle – on of the first of its kind. When the Clark Axle wins industry-wide respect for being well-balanced and well-built, Eugene Clark merges the Celfor Tool Company and the Buchanan Electric Steel Company to form the Clark Equipment Company.

  • 1917: Invention of the World's first Internal Combustion-Powered Materials Handling Truck

    The first Tructractor is built in Buchanan, Michigan by employees of the CLARK Equipment Company. The Tructractor is the world's first internal combustion-powered industrial truck. The Tructractor is originally configured with a flat bed or cargo box and is manually loaded and unloaded. It is used to haul materials between CLARK's various axle, drill and wheel departments. However, visitors to the plant are impressed with its practicality and ask CLARK to also build Tructractors for them. In 1918, eight Tructractors are built and in 1919 over 75 are manufactured.

  • 1919: The Clark Tructractor Company

    The CLARK Tructractor Company is formed in Buchanan, Michigan as a division of the CLARK Equipment Company. Today's CLARK Material Handling Company is a direct descendant of the CLARK Tructractor Company. Clark also enters the export market, as the first Tructractor is exported to France.

  • 1922: The Truclift

    The Trucklift, an internal combustion-powered platform lift truck, is introduced. The Truclift was the world’s first internal combustion lift truck that used hydraulics, not mechanical gears and linkage, to lift a load. Tructractors and Truclifts begin to be produced at a new CLARK plant in Battle Creek, Michigan.

  • 1923: The Duat Tow Tractor

    The Duat was used to pull trailer loads of lumber, freight and industrial materials.

  • 1924: The World's First Forklift

    First shipment of a Duat with an optional tiering attachment. This modified Duat became the world's first internal combustion fork lift truck.

  • 1926: The Clarkat

    The Clarkat tow tractor is introduced. The Clarkat has a drawbar pull ratings of 2000 and 2600 pounds. The Clarkat replaces the Duat, which has a drawbar pull rating of 1500 pounds. The Clarkat is used to pull trailers of freight and material and remained in production until 1982.
  • 1927: The Clarktor

    The Clarktor tow tractor is introduced. The Clarktor is used to pull airplanes and warehouse trailer trains. It is equipped with an electric self-starter, the first industrial truck or tractor to have this feature as standard equipment. The Clarktor remained in production until 1987. You will find many of the Clarktor's decendants on airport runways and in factories around the world to this day.
  • 1928: The Tructier

    The Tructier is introduced. The Tructier is the world's first internal combustion fork lift truck that uses hydraulics, not chains and cables, to lift a load. One could theorize that this implementation of pistons and gears over chains and cables can be traced back to the Clark Axle.
  • 1938: The Carloader

    The Carloader, the world's first modern short-coupled internal combustion fork lift truck, is introduced. The Carloader is mass-produced from its introduction and is at one time imitated by many other fork lift truck manufacturers. It remained in production until 1964.
  • 1941: WWII

    CLARK produces almost 90 percent of the military requirements for fork lift trucks and tow tractors. It is once said during WWII that there is not an air field under Allied control that does not have a CLARK fork lift truck or tow tractor. By the end of the war, the widespread use of CLARK lift trucks by the Allied Forces and war-related industries make "CLARK" and "fork lift" almost synonymous.
  • 1942: Clippers, Carloaders, and Utilitrucs

    The first Electric Clippers, Carloaders, and Utilitrucs are introduced. However, because of wartime production demands for Carloader and Clarktors, they are not put into full production until 1945.
  • 1943: United We Stand

    Clark is awarded the Army-Navy-Industry "E" Award, in recognition of its outstanding production during the war.

    1943: The Planeloader

    The Planeloader, CLARK's first pneumatic-tired fork lift truck, is introduced. It is designed principally for off-road operation at Allied air bases during WWII. War surplus Planeloaders are used by truck farmers, contractors and airlines.

    CLARK is the first lift truck manufacturer to put warning labels on lift trucks.
  • 1946: The Yardlift

    The Yardlift 40 is introduced. The Yardlift 40 is the beginning of the pneumatic Yardlift line. It is intended for inside and outside use in manufacturing and shipping facilities.
  • 1951: The Powrworker

    The Hydrolift (internal combustion) and Electrolift (electric) pallet trucks are introduced. Later branded the Powrworker, the Electrolift is a powered walkie-type hand truck. It is available in pallet, platform, tug and forklift stacker type trucks.
  • 1956: The First Nested I-beam Upright

    CLARK introduces the nested I-beam upright. This new upright design dramatically improves upright strength and load stability.

    The Clarklift family line is introduced. The Clarklift is a complete line of internal combustion and electric powered fork lift trucks and is available in both cushion and pneumatic-tired versions. It eventually supersedes the Carloader, Utilitruck and Clipper models.
  • 1964: The First Overhead Guard and Load Backrest

    CLARK is the first lift truck manufacturer to install load back rests and overhead guards as standard equipment on all of its trucks. This dramatically increases operators' safety and payload integrity.
  • 1967: The First Electric 3-wheel Lift Truck in the U.S.

    The TW15/20 is introduced. The TW15/20 is the first electric three-wheel lift truck in the U.S. and becomes an industry standard. This highly maneuverable lift truck is used across multiple industries including shipping, warehousing and bottling. The TW15/20 evolves into the 24 volt TM10/15S in 1981. The TM10/15S in turn evolves into the 36 volt TM15/20 in 1986. The TMG models follow in the 1990's and evolve into the TMX 100% AC units available today.
  • 1968: The C500 Forklift

    The C500 line includes internal combustion and electric trucks and is available with both cushion and pneumatic tires. Clark fork lifts in the C500 line range from 2000 pound capacity models for warehousing use to large 80,000 pound capacity models for steel fabrication. It eventually replaces the Clarklift model line.
  • 1972: First Dual Voltage Forklift

    CLARK offers the industry's first dual voltage electric trucks. These trucks provide performance options based on the demands of the customer's application.
  • 1976: The 500,000th Clark Forklift

    CLARK builds its 500,000th truck, a C500-50 internal combustion four wheel fork lift truck. Donated to Western Michigan University in 1977, this truck is still in service today.
  • 1983: The Operator Restraint System

    Clark sets a new standard in product safety by launching a voluntary program in the U.S. and Canada that is the first of its kind in the industry. The Clark Industrial Truck Division offers existing Clark lift truck customers, free of charge, a new vertical "wings" seat attachment and seat belt package that increases operator protection in case of accidents, particularly rollovers. This seat is also made standard on all new internal combustion trucks. The patent for this safety innovation is offered to all lift truck manufacturers — royalty free.
  • 1985: The 'System' Truck

    The GCS/GPS "System" model trucks are introduced. The System Truck concept enables customers to match their fork lift trucks to their applications through a selection of engines, axles and transmissions.
  • 1990: Material Handling Safety

    CLARK is the first lift truck manufacturer to provide the "Employer's Guide to Material Handling Safety" on every truck delivered.
  • 1994: The 'Genesis' Series

    The Genesis model line of four wheel internal combustion cushion and pneumatic-tire fork lifts is introduced. The Genesis features a rubber isolated operator cell to improve operator comfort and sets new industry standards for productivity and reliability.
  • 1997: The 1,000,000th Clark Forklift

    The one-millionth CLARK truck is produced. This model CDP25H Megastat is now on permanent display in CMHC's showroom in Lexington, Kentucky.
  • 1998: Clark acquires Samsung Forklift Company

    CLARK Material Handling Company acquires the Samsung Fork Lift Company of Korea. As CLARK Material Handling Asia, this facility designs and manufactures Clark lift trucks for the global market.

    1998: The 'M-Series'

    The CLARK M-Series model family, designed and manufactured by CLARK Material Handling Asia, is introduced to the lift truck market. The M-Series models extends and supplements CLARK's global product line-up.
  • 2001: The 'Gen2' Series

    The CLARK Gen2 Series is introduced to the global lift truck market. The Gen2 is available in capacities of 4000 to 6500 pounds and with either cushion or pneumatic tires. Designed and manufactured by Clark Material Handling Asia, the Gen2 continues Clark's reputation for building reliable and hard-working lift trucks.
  • 2003: Clark acquired by Young An Hat Company

    The Young An Hat Company of Korea acquires CLARK Material Handling Company and CLARK Material Handling Asia.
  • 2006: The 'GEX' Series

    The GEX20/30 electric lift truck is introduced. This 80 volt pneumatic-tired truck offers outstanding speed and performance. A zero turn radius steer axle provides unmatched maneuverability.
  • 2007: Clark's 90 Year Milestone

    2007, marks the 90th Anniversary of the first gasoline-powered material handling industrial truck. CLARK celebrates this historic milestone at its North American Headquarters and honors worldwide guests, dealers, and long-standing CLARK employees.

    A 304-pages coffee table book is created to commemorate and document in text and pictures CLARK's 90 years of building quality material handling equipment. It is available for purchase here, http://clarkmhcshop.com/index.php/gifts/90th-anniversary-book.html
  • 2012: The Three-Wheel CTX Tow Tractor

    CLARK Introduces the CTX 3-wheel tow tractor. This 48 Volt 100% AC electric tractor comes in either 8800 lbs. or 15,400 lbs. (4000/7000kg) tow capacities. The CTX offers its fi...rst foray into the Tow Tractor market in 25 years with features like solid pneumatic tires, regen braking, rear-wheel drive, automotive-style pedal & instrumentation layout, and optional cab enclosure. This highly maneuverable, easily serviceable, broadly flexible, and extremely dependable tow tractor operates with the same ease of use and rugged durability that has been at the center of CLARK's manufacturing of material handling trucks for nearly 100 years.

  • 2013: Clark Acquires Evergreen

    Clark acquires EverGreen Electric Vehicles, expanding Clark's global markets to include burden carriers, golf carts and utility vehicles.