Bobcat’s telehandler plant is 60

The Bobcat telehandler plant in Pontchâteau, France - north west of Nantes - has celebrated 60 years of production.

The Bobcat telehandler business can however trace its roots back to the early 1900s when Joseph Sambron, a locksmith, took over his father’s business and began making farm machinery and bicycles. By 1920, he was running a 3,000 square metre facility employing more than a hundred people, producing everything from flour mills to mobile cider presses.

His son Maurice joined the business and in 1953 began producing construction related equipment, starting with wheelbarrows and then site dumpers, delivering more than 50,000 units over the following years. In 1963 he moved into the new Pontchâteau plant and began making rough terrain forklifts and material handling equipment, including forward reach machines, some of which resembled a telehandler, but were not telescopic.

The company officially launched its first telehandler in 1982 at the Expomat show in Paris. In 1986 it was acquired by the Fayat group and was merged into its FDI business, becoming FDI Sambron. The following year it introduced its first hydrostatic telehandlers and began a period of solid growth. In the 1990s it experienced some financial challenges and apparently appointed an administrator at one point. However, in 2000 it was acquired by Ingersoll-Rand, which also owned Bobcat and the business was merged into Bobcat, officially becoming Bobcat France. In 2007 the company was acquired by South Korean group, Doosan - the current owners.

In 2023 the Pontchâteau produced its 111,000th machine, of which around 30,000 would have been Bobcat branded telehandlers.

Pontchâteau factory manager Philippe Marescot said: “Our current telehandler line-up consists of 14 models on five platforms, with key markets in agriculture, construction and rental and we now employ 420, having doubled in the last 10 years. Over the past decade, we have invested around €30 million to strengthen the factory’s capacity to meet market demands and maintain a growth trajectory aligned with market needs."