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Blog posts from Marshall Cromer, "The Forklift Boss". Follow us for information on forklift safety, strategic advice from our team's service experts, and upcoming technologies shaping the future of material handling!

Aug 5, 2021

The Forklift Shortage of 2021: How Long Will it Last?

Forklifts are in short supply. Chances are you knew that already. It's important to understand why, so we can plan for the future.

First off, let me state: Cromer does have forklifts in stock. We still have inventory in California and Nevada.

We have forklifts when most dealers don't, because we saw this coming. We've got 4 examples in this newsletter, on sale now.

First though, let's figure out why the shortage exists, and how to respond.

The Material Handling Industry Faces its Biggest Inventory Shortage Ever

The world's supply chain has been squeezed tighter than ever. I've never seen a shortage like this before.

With businesses reopening from COVID lockdowns, manufacturing rushed to catch up. With this came growth in demand for forklifts – a lot of demand! Here are 3 reasons for the shortage:

1. Parts

According to ForkliftAction News, materials supply started the forklift shortage. The companies making almost all of the raw materials used in forklifts – steel for the body, semiconductors for the electronics – have fallen behind on production.

That's what happens when you shut manufacturing down for months, and then experience a surge in demand while you're still opening back up.

2. Labor

When you can’t work, you can’t produce and move product. Forklift assembly and shipping slowed down during COVID because workers had to shelter. This led to new forklift inventory drying up.

3. Regulations

This Yahoo Finance article points out another factor affecting forklift inventories. While it leads with the global forklift market growing faster than expected (it should reach $19 billion by 2026), the article mentions regulations affecting supply.

Environmental regulations have stifled production of forklifts. In order to meet environmental standards, manufacturers must comply with these regulations, and certify their products before they can ship out. Worker and environmental health & safety are critical of course, but it is an additional reason for delay.

One of these regulations has affected a major forklift supplier…which hurts available inventory further. Toyota has stopped shipping LPG forklifts in the U.S., pending new certifications from the EPA and CARB. (They'll keep shipping electrics and diesel trucks.)

This move alone limits the number of available forklifts. The resulting supply shortages have caused manufacturers to raise prices and extend lead times for new orders.

Add the post-lockdown surges, and it's no surprise that lead times for new forklifts have lengthened – as much as 1-2 years, I've heard.

How Long Will the Shortage Last?

Based on all this, and my own experience, I'd say the shortage will last until the end of 2021. By then Toyota should have resumed new truck shipments, and the holiday pinch will have passed.

What You Can Do to Keep Your Forklift Fleet Stocked

First, if you have the need now or before the end of the year for a new forklift, get it now.

Here are 3 tips to keep in mind:

  1. If you're looking for a specific mast height but can't find it, go one level up. A little extra height's better than not enough.

  2. Use rentals to fill in workflow gaps.

  3. Your local Cromer does have forklifts in stock, for sale and for rent. Our rental fleet runs thin in the summer due to Harvest, but we're doing everything we can to keep rentals available.

As promised, here are 4 forklifts you can pick up today.

  1. 2016 CAT 2C60004 Cushion-Tire LPG Forklift. 6,000lb capacity, with 8,800 hours on it. ONLY $10,000
    2016 CAT Cushion Tire Forklift


  2. 2021 CAT GP50CN1 Heavy-Duty LPG Forklift. 10,000lb capacity, with 1 hour on it (brand new!). BUY FOR ONLY $57,963, or lease it for only $855/month (60 month term).
    2021 CAT GP50CN1 Forklift for Sale


  3. 2015 Doosan FG40 LPG Forklift. 9,000lb capacity, with 147 two-stage mast, and 5,000 hours on it. ONLY $23,965.
    2015 Doosan 9000lb Forklift for Sale


  4. 2021 Doosan B18T-7 Electric Three-Wheeler Forklift. 3,500lb capacity, brand-new model. BUY FOR ONLY $30,784, or lease for $452.64/month.
    2021 Doosan Electric Forklift for Sale or Rent


To pick up one of these forklifts, call Cromer at 800.974.5438.

(While we're taking every step possible to maintain inventory, we can't guarantee specific models right now. If you do need forklifts new or used, contact us right away.)

Until next month!

Marshall Cromer, The Forklift Boss

Cromer Material Handling