Bobcat’s Pontchateau telehandler factory for EMEA marks 60 years of being in business
12 Sept 2023
Facility in western France went from making school benches to world renowned telehandlers sold throughout Bobcat’s EMEA market region
Bobcat is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the factory in Pontchateau, France, that produces its telehandlers, including some models that are sold in the Middle East.
In an announcement of the 60th year celebrations of the factory, Bobcat said that the facility in the town of Pontchateau located in western France traces its history back to the early 20th century when Joseph Sambron transformed his school bench factory into a hub for farm machinery and bicycles.
By 1920, the factory employed hundreds of workers and produced flour mills and cider presses. Following Joseph's retirement, his son Maurice ventured into mini-dumper production, selling over 50,000 units and paving the way for the construction of the present-day Pontchateau plant in 1963. The new facility specialised in off-road dumpers and forklifts.
Bobcat added that today, the factory is renowned for its production of telescopic handlers, which commenced in the early 1980s under the Sambron brand and was then acquired by the Fayat Group. Under the new ownership, Sambron became FDI Sambron and introduced hydrostatic telescopic handlers.
In 2000, FDI Sambron was acquired by American corporation Ingersoll-Rand, which also owned the Bobcat brand. Consequently, FDI Sambron transformed into Bobcat France. In 2007, Bobcat was acquired by the South Korean group Doosan, and continues to operate as part of the Doosan Bobcat EMEA company.
In 2023, the French factory achieved an impressive milestone, when it manufactured its 111,000th machine. Out of this figure, around 30,000 of the machines have been telehandlers carrying the Bobcat logo and the brand’s white and orange colours.
Philippe Marescot, Pontchateau factory manager at Doosan Bobcat EMEA, said: “Our current telehandler line-up consists of 14 models in five platforms, with key markets in agriculture, construction and rental. Managing such a comprehensive portfolio is only possible thanks to our experienced engineering team, which is running all the European operations and contributing to global telehandler development activities. The majority of our production, over 80%, is targeted for export.”
The factory has been a major driver of employment in the area, seeing significant growth along with production, with the workforce more than doubling to 420 employees in the last 10 years. Pontchateau mayor Danielle Cornet recognises the factory's significance as a major regional employer, with over 50% of employees residing within a 20km radius, and offering diverse job opportunities, ranging from manufacturing to executive roles, administration and Research & Development.
Catherine Perio, an accountant at Bobcat in Pontchateau, embodies the company's positive work environment. With an impressive 36 years of service, she credits her long tenure to the company's continuous growth, which remains fulfilling even after four decades. The supportive and friendly staff have also played a significant role in her journey.
According to Marescot, investments of approximately EUR30 million have been made over the past decade “in human resources, research and development and facility enhancements”.
“These structural investments have strengthened the Pontchateau factory’s capacity to meet market demands and maintain a growth trajectory aligned with market needs," Marescot said.