Bobcat marks 60th telehandler anniversary
By Leila Steed05 September 2023
Bobcat is marking a key milestone, with it’s factory in Pontchâteau, France, celebrating 60 years of producing telehandlers.
The factory, which has a manufacturing history that dates back to the early 20th century, is renowned for its production of telescopic handlers. The site began producing telehandlers in the early 1980s. This year saw Bobcat’s 111,000th construction machine roll off the production line, of which around 30,000 of them have been telehandlers.
Philippe Marescot, Pontchâteau factory manager at Doosan Bobcat EMEA, said, “Our current telehandler line-up consists of 14 models in five platforms, with key markets in agriculture, construction and rental.
“Managing such a comprehensive portfolio is only possible thanks to our experienced engineering team, which is running all the European operations and contributing to global telehandler development activities. The majority of our production, over 80%, is targeted for export.”
Bobcat’s Pontchâteau facility was established by Joseph Sambron, who transformed it from a school bench factory into a hub for farm machinery and bicycles.
By 1920, the factory employed hundreds of workers and produced flour mills and cider presses. Following Joseph’s retirement, his son Maurice ventured into mini-dumper production, selling over 50,000 units, and paving the way for the construction of the present-day Pontchâteau plant in 1963. The new facility specialized in off-road dumpers and forklifts.
Pontchâteau began producing its first telehandlers in the early 1980s under the Sambron brand, which was then acquired by the Fayat Group.
Under Fayat’s ownership, Sambron became FDI Sambron and introduced hydrostatic telescopic handlers. In 2000, FDI Sambron was acquired by American corporation, Ingersoll-Rand, which also owned the Bobcat brand.
Consequently, FDI Sambron transformed into Bobcat France. In 2007, Bobcat was acquired by the South Korean group, Doosan, and continues to operate as part of the Doosan Bobcat EMEA company.
In recent years, investment in the Pontchâteau factory has also had a big impact on its local community - “more than doubling” its workforce to 420 employees.
Marescot said, “Over the past decade, significant investments, amounting to approximately €30 million, have been made in human resources, research and development and facility enhancements.
“These structural investments have strengthened the Pontchâteau factory’s capacity to meet market demands and maintain a growth trajectory aligned with market needs.”