20/12/2006 - 06:00 am

UpRight to Re-Establish Full-Line U.S. Manufacturing in 2007

Since UpRight, Fresno, Calif., was acquired by the UK-based Tanfield Group last spring, the 60-year-old manufacturer has received solid support from its new owner and made a number of company changes, including reverting back to the UpRight USA name, increasing output of its UL vertical personnel lifts, and recruiting several new employees across the board. The latest news from UpRight is it plans to re-establish full-line production of its medium and large self-propelled boom and scissor lifts in the United States next year.

Although strong demand for UpRight self-propelled AWPs and the need to supply a complete product portfolio to national rental companies have influenced the company's decision to re-establish U.S. production, Darren Kell, chief executive officer of UpRight, said the company's strategy has always been to launch full-line production in the United States in 2007. “The U.S. facility and its big boom production capabilities represent the next major step in our strategy to develop UpRight into a major global competitor in the access industry,” he said.

While the U.S. market is seeing softening in residential construction, Kell said that isn't affecting the company's decision. In fact, after establishing assembly of its UL product line earlier this year, the company has continued to see solid orders each month. “UpRight is a well-regarded brand with a loyal customer base,” he said. “We recognize the market is at a peak, but we feel there is a significant enough market even in a downward trend.”

Kell told Lift and Access that the company is looking at two production sites and is currently weighing the benefits of each. Location, size of the facility, skilled work force in the region, and the level of support from the local government are all factoring into the company's selection, he said. UpRight is now in final negotiations to establish the turnkey facility, and work on the production site is expected to begin in early 2007.

In November, the Tanfield Group sold 20 million ($37.9 million) in shares to bolster the access division. Kell noted that some of the money used to purchase the new facility will come from that sale, as well as money in reserves for this type of spending.

Although UpRight has been located in California for a number of years, Kell said the location of the facility is not limited to the state. It also will have no bearing on the Fresno facility's operations. “Fresno has always been the spare parts, service, and customer and sales support center for UpRight,” Kell said, adding that it will continue in that role.

In addition to its re-established manufacturing, UpRight will officially re-launch its brand name and product line at The Rental Show after having been absent as a brand since 2004. “Customers haven't been able to receive the UpRight brand for some time,” Kell said. “We want to pass on the message that Big Blue is back.”

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