It's awfully hard to resist the siren call of a shiny new lift truck, especially the high-tech marvels that are on the market today. But not everyone needs or can afford the latest and greatest, so dealers, manufacturers, and third parties offer used trucks for sale, lease, or rent.
These days, used lift trucks are hot commodities both here and abroad (the top export markets for used U.S. trucks are Canada, Mexico, and South America). And dealers and resellers are finding it a challenge to meet demand, according to Allen C. Rawson, president and CEO of Atlas Toyota Material Handling Schiller Park, Ill. In addition to being one of the largest-volume Toyota dealers in the United States, Atlas is a wholesaler of used trucks of all makes.
"Selling them is easy," Rawson said in an interview. "It's buying them that's the challenge."
The main reason used trucks are in short supply is that during the Great Recession, sales of new forklifts in the United States declined by approximately 50 percent from previous years' levels, says Dave Moran, vice president at Crown Equipment Corp. "This impacted the supply of four- to five-year-old forklifts available for the used truck market today," he explains.
Rawson said the two years following the recession produced the lowest level of trade-ins and lease returns—the source of many of the trucks in rental fleets—he had seen in 15 years. As a result, wholesale prices of used trucks have been rising, which in turn is bumping up retail prices, he said.
That doesn't mean the rental market has dried up, though. Rawson expects to see continuing strong demand and is actively seeking out good-quality used equipment nationwide. Other dealers and manufacturers are working to keep adequate stocks available. Crown, for one, updated its rental fleet in 2008; with the addition of lease returns, its supply of used equipment is "healthy," Moran says.