The Pontchâteau plant in Loire Atlantique in France has just manufactured its 20,000th Bobcat telehandler. The Pontchâteau plant produces all the Bobcat telehandlers for the world market, with telehandler design, development, production and sales organizations all based at the plant.

During an official ceremony attended by the site’s 200 strong workforce, Xavier Larroque,Telehandler Products Manager and Laurent Gicquel, Pontchâteau Plant Manager, presented the keys of the 20,000th machine to roll off the production line (a new Bobcat T40180 model) to its purchaser, the Manuco dealership from the suburbs of Rouen.

The ceremony provided Bobcat management with an opportunity to emphasise how, after the difficult times experienced towards the end of the last decade, the Pontchâteau plant continues to be a successful production facility for Bobcat. Laurent Gicquel commented: “We foresee growth of around 15% in sales and 17% in turnover this year compared to 2013. This growth is largely due to good results from the agricultural sector, which represents some 49% of Bobcat telehandler sales. The remaining 51% of sales come from the rental and construction sectors and general industry.”

To underline the optimism felt by Bobcat management, various investments are planned for the Pontchâteau site in 2014 to boost production and take advantage of the strong demand for Bobcat’s French-made telehandlers.

“Eighty per cent of our production is exported. Apart from France, we have a strong presence in Eastern Europe, Germany and the Middle East,” Larroque added.

Currently, the Pontchâteau site produces 12 different Bobcat telehandler models, with lifting heights from 5 to 18m. But a new generation of machines is being introduced, continuing the trend set by the TL360 and TL470 models with Stage IIIB engines and the top-of-the-range T40140 and T40180 construction industry models launched last year.

Since Bobcat acquired Pontchâteau from Sambron, the plant has gone on to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2013 and is a model of industrial evolution, driven by a passion for its products and continuous investment in its workforce.