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Forget Babies, Politicians Should Kiss Forklifts

June 16, 2014
Forklifts can be as important to politicians as they are to material handlers on the front lines of industry and our national defense.

When you spend a couple days with forklift manufacturers, you can’t help growing in your appreciation for all the things these vehicles do in supply chains around the world. I was in Washington last week for National Forklift Safety Day, and as you’ll see in our coverage, these manufacturers spent a lot of time preparing brief but laser-pointed pitches to their representatives in an effort to gain support on trade and safety legislation.

Knowing the strong voting block manufacturers of any kind represent, these politicians ignore forklifts at their peril. They know that every enterprise making up the U.S. economy uses forklifts to get their business done. They also know that the supply chains supporting the defense of our way of life rely even more on forklifts. Military logisticians depend on forklift operators to maneuver in the most challenging environments and accomplish what needs to get done quickly.

Al Will, a retired Marine colonel who’s a member of MH&L’s editorial advisory board and president of PWG Distribution Solutions, LLC , offered an interesting take on the strategic value of material handling to the military, and therefore to the politicians responsible for funding our military’s missions around the world. Much of that funding must go to material handling equipment—and sometimes in double doses compared to civilian supply chains.

“Military supply chains handle everything from refrigerated rations, clothing, medical supplies, and construction materials to hazardous materials, repair parts, and large pieces of equipment,” Will told me. “And although military and civilian supply chains are very similar, the military must build in more redundancy than the civilian world.  The enemy has a say in that, with the ability to destroy or damage a portion of our logistics capability.  Part of that capability must be devoted to rapidly establishing logistics operations in austere environments.”

Knowing all that, politicians are no strangers to forklifts. Many of them operated them in their first jobs. And once in the political world, many of them use forklifts as convenient props, as you’ll see in our new gallery, “Politicians on Forklifts.” They’re not only effective props, but they’ve also been used to help prop politicians up—both effectively and disastrously, as you’ll see in our combined video and photo gallery. 

Enjoy this look at forklifts in politics. Then, share with us some shots of how your forklifts are being used to support our nation’s economy. We’ll build an MH&L reader gallery on this topic and your forklifts can deliver the building blocks. E-mail them to [email protected].