How European spider lifts are taking on the US market
By Euan Youdale14 March 2023
European manufacturers of spider lifts have found a foothold in the United States as the product gains ground in the applications for which it is already well known in their home continent.
A once very niche product in the North America, the spider lift is still relatively new to the market but has seen significant success over recent years, particularly in the core area of arborist applications.
However, the value of these lightweight versatile machines is also increasingly being recognised in other industries, such as maintenance, construction and the rental sector. And the potential in North America is further highlighted by the fact that for many of these manufacturers the US is already their number one market in terms of sales.
One indication of the growing value placed on spider lifts in the US lies in JLG’s acquisition of Italian spider specialist Hinowa, which was completed earlier this year. The pair of companies have a longstanding partnership and under the new ownership the Hinowa brand name will be retained for its spiders and other products lines, including mini dumpers, lift trucks and undercarriages.
JLG said this expansion of its product portfolio enables it to strengthen its specialty applications offerings and increase its presence in niche industries, including agricultural, landscape and vegetation management.
ARA Show overview
At the ARA Show, held in Orlando, Florida, last month, the drive by European spider manufacturers into North America, through their own subsidiaries or distributors, was evident.
Last year CMC, which is also based in Italy along with many other spider lift manufacturers, acquired its US distributor All Access, in a bid to grow its presence further.
The US market is already CMC’s largest, with All Access being the company’s largest customer. The buyout will help All Access expand further with more facilities and inventory. In February the All Access signed a new sub-dealer in Michigan, bringing the number to 11 with 39 locations between them.
According to All Access, CMC’s the most popular unit in the country currently is the 83HD+ (the 25m working height S25 in Europe). That model is being replaced with the updated 90HD+ (S27 in Europe) to reflect the widely held need for more working height and a wider working envelope.
Tracked Lifts is Denmark-based Omme Lifts and Platform Basket’s representative in the US. It was one of the first spider lift representatives in the US, having set up near enough when the product type was first introduced to the market some 13 years ago – demonstrating how new spiders are to the North American landscape.
As another example of how the spider market is growing, the company has just set up a new warehouse facility to replace its former shop. The new all-encompassing facility now offers a full range of stock, alongside service.
Arborists remain the top customer of spider in the US, but even within that application, however there is quick growth to other sectors and rental is increasingly picking up on the product type.
“Rental is picking up for arborists as companies realise that they can now trust the equipment and they understand it won’t get damaged in the field.”
Spider rental on the up
Easy Lift has sold its equipment through its distributor UP Equip since 2012, with excellent results, says the Italian company, meaning that like with other spider lift producers, North America is its main market.
UP Equip supplies mainly to the arborist sector, and each year attends the TCI expo, organised by the Tree Care Industry Association among other exhibitions dedicated to the that industry.
The company says it now plans to focus more on rental, which will involve approaching larger rental companies, as well as the construction industry.
Teupen is a well-established spider brand in the US, having also entered it around 13 years ago as one of the first spider lift manufacturers in the country.
The company opened its second manufacturing plant in its home country of Germany some six to seven months ago. This is now helping to fuel the growing US market for spiders. The company which has a subsidiary in North America, supplies 240-260 units to the continent each year, which means it has now taken over as its biggest market over Germany, the previous largest.
The new factory is also helping the manufacturer enhance its component storage, which has allowed it to stay ahead of the curve in terms of lead times, it says, which has affected all sectors. The company says it can quote delivery times of as lows as one month, thanks to its policy of ordering components a year ahead.
The company now says it hopes to increase the total number of units it sells in the US market by more than 100 units a year, which the claims would push it into first place, as market leader.
At the ARA show, the Teupen told AI, “Rental is good – customers are looking to get into spiders and move away from towables – people want to get into tighter spots.”
Some 35% of sales now goes directly to rental customers and, apart from arborist work, Teupen has seen a major increases in applications like schools maintenance and casinos, which are using more compact equipment, for example the compact Teupen TL35A, which can carry out work, such as maintenance work in shopping malls, etc, without having to close an area down.
IMER USA has been in the market since 1990 with its range of compact equipment. However, its access products were brought into the US or the first time just four years ago.
While the manufacturer produces a range of access equipment, spiders will be the company’s main focus in the US. Imer said that while spider products remain a niche product in the country, compared to scissors lifts, which the company also produces in Italy, the opportunities are greater in the short term for an Italian company looking to make its way into the market.
Nevertheless, the company has introduced scissors lifts to North America, ranging from 13m to 15m working at height, as well as a 19m lithium model. The next step will be to introduce 25m and 28m models. “We are looking to grow access side in North America; it is a major focus.”
CTE North America is the Italian manufacturer’s distributor for the region and has been busy building it dealer network across the continent, with a plan to cover every state with full service provision.
The company was showing a new lift on its stand at the ARA Show - the Traccess 160, which is new to North America.
While being a producer of other types of aerial lifts, CTE is also focusing its efforts first on spiders. As the company points out, truck mounts, which CTE also produces at its Italy-based factory, are more complicated to import to North America as the correct chassis has to be sourced. In addition, the company added, “The US is traditionally an insulated truck mount market. This is not our product area and teaching the market that you don’t need insulated products is a challenge,” says Tim Hunt, CTE senior area manager.
“However, they are moving towards lighter chassis in the US,” adds Hunt. Therefore, the company will continue to explore the truck mount sector, while its spider lift sales expand quickly.
Opening distrubution channels
Spimerica, the distributor for Palazzani spider lifts in North America, is also meeting the upsurge in interest in this product type, having sold more than 100 machines so far this year, by mid-February, into the market.
Considering how young the spider market in the US is, there are considerable growth opportunities in the years ahead, particularly for Europe-based manufacturers that have longstanding experience in producing them.
Hence, Spimerica has been busy setting up a national network of sub-dealers to enhance its main arborist market and increase the range of opportunities open to this equipment that has previously been embraced by Europe.
“A big challenge is getting people to understand that they can be a better option than boom lifts and that they are not difficult to use,” says Palazzani.
The company said there is the potential to set up an assembly plant in the US to essentially save on the expensive transport costs. While the cost has reduced recently, a singly container can still cost around $10,000, which is only large enough to transport two units.
There is also a trend in the US to larger spider lifts. The common working height is 108ft and below at present, but Palazzani says its US distributor will be receiving 32m and 42m working height units later this year.