The Pandemic Effect on the Forklift and Material Handling Industry

The Pandemic Effect on the Forklift and Material Handling Industry

It isn’t hard to remember the pandemic unravel back in 2020. Then came supply chain issues (toilet paper, anyone?), stock market volatility and general economic woes. All of this led to doubt, fear and uncertainty.

Unfortunately, no one was immune to the challenges. Covid-19 had a staggering impact on the global forklift market, and it changed the way most of us do business. But G&W has met these challenges head on and kept our customers’ needs at the forefront of all we do.

Let’s look at the effects of the pandemic on our industry and how G&W responded.

Challenges of the Forklift Industry and Material Handling Industry

According to, “The global forklift market exhibited a huge decline of 12.5 percent in 2020.” Manufacturing challenges, including steel and automotive, and logistics challenges put a halt on how the U.S. did business.

With major disruptions in the supply chain, the lift truck and material handling world wondered: What’s next?

After initial months of adjustment, businesses were forced to rethink strategies, procedures and go-to-market plans. Fortunately for the forklift market, those new strategies focused on when, how and why they were using forklifts and material handling resources. The answers to these questions can lead to making the right choices in buying, renting or leasing lift trucks, for example. And forklift dealers had new opportunities to provide solutions for customers, which can lead to even greater gains in productivity.

Resulting Trends

Here are some trends that have emerged in our industry.

More Electric Forklifts

As the pandemic made businesses realize they needed to work faster and be more productive, the interest in electric forklifts increased. Forklift availability was an issue. With 50 percent less lead time than gas trucks, electric forklifts saw a boost.

Rethinking Automation

The pandemic created a surge of interest in automation. Automation creates enhanced efficiency and optimized processes. It allows for relocation of employee workload, so it can be deployed more effectively in other areas.

Rental Equipment Shortages

While rental equipment shortages were not a good thing, it forced companies to think broadly and take a longer-term approach to acquiring lift trucks. This led to better decision making.

Longer Lead Times and Price Increases

Unfortunately, the industry experiences longer lead times and price increases in both forklifts and material handling products.

How G&W Has Responded

While G&W has felt the impact along with everyone else, we have worked hard to adapt to the ever-evolving needs of the businesses we serve.

  • While the current forklift and material handling market is experiencing a surge in orders and the disruption of the supply chain has drastically pushed out lead times, G&W has some of the shortest lead times in the industry. G&W has over 900 units on order for stock and rental to help curb extended lead times.
  • We continue to provide the best customer service – with quick response time, knowledgeable sales staff and reliable products.
  • If you’re considering electric forklifts, we have a wide range of great options, and our skilled sales teams will help you find the right lift truck for your business.
  • If you’re considering automation, talk to us. We have the latest in advanced technology, including Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) from Rocla and Jungheinrich. We’ll help you see how advanced forklift technology can reduce costs, streamline production and increase productivity.
  • If you need rental forklifts, we have them. We’re the experts on whether to buy new or used, or choose a rental lift truck option. G&W has the expertise to help you make that decision.

The One Aspect that Hasn’t Changed

The pandemic has changed the way we work, and that might mean new solutions or different ways of doing business. But at G&W, what hasn’t changed is that we continue to get to know our customers, so we can provide the right solution for specific needs.

We think attention to detail, experienced sales teams and personal service are still important. We can handle timely forklift delivery, so you can move your business forward.

If you need a forklift or a fleet of forklifts, contact G&W today. We offer a wide selection of available forklifts from brands you know and trust.