This New Jersey company helps America’s manufacturers Keep it Made in America.
Electrolift, Inc. is an American-made manufacturer of industrial hoists — and an important link in our country’s manufacturing supply chain.
Electrolift hoists — or lifts — are worm-drive, wire-top hoists used in factories across America and the world. These rugged hoists are essential to many of America’s major manufacturing companies.
If you visit one of America’s large factories, you may barely notice the hoist that is lifting a Ford pickup truck, Sikorsky helicopter blades or a massive airplane engine. Among the long list of companies using Electrolift hoists for excessive lifting are U.S. Steel, Nucor, Ford, John Deere, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Sikorsky Helicopter, Bell Helicopter, McWane Cast Iron Pipe and General Electric.
Based in Clifton, N.J., Electrolift is the oldest manufacturer of Made in America hoists. Steve Pilione is part owner and director of sales and marketing at Electrolift, which has been making its hoists in New Jersey since 1932.
“We only make electric wire-rope hoists. Our worm drive type hoists are a little bit different than some of our competition,” Pilione said. “We have been forced into kind of being a custom made hoist. Because our prices couldn’t compete with what was coming in from Europe in the ‘90s and what started coming in from Asia in the 2000s, people use us more in heavy duty applications and custom applications.”
Electrolift’s standard equipment lifts from 500 to 20,000 pounds, but its niche in the market is making hoists that lift up to 30 tons, depending on the application.
"Companies are starting to realize that they have more control over their supply chain when they are getting a product here rather than bringing it in from overseas." Steve Pilione
Electrolift’s most popular industrial hoists are its two- and four-pick hoists. The pick is the number of attachments on the hoist that connect to a load before it is lifted. The Ford F-series trucks manufactured at its Avon Lake, Ohio plant are moved down parts of the assembly line with four-pick point hoists while work is being done on the undercarriage. Twin-pick point hoists provide dual connections to lift and place helicopter blades at Sikorsky Helicopter assembly plants and Bell Helicopter facilities in Texas.
“John Deere is also a big customer of ours,” Pilione said. “They buy our twin-hook hoist which is a unique product we have. It’s one gear box driving two drums so it could be for two-pick points or even four-pick points.
“For example, John Deere uses our hoists to attach tractor tires to the wheels before the wheels are fastened to a tractor. There are about 25 of our hoists on this big monorail loop doing that job. Everything is synchronized so you don’t have the extra maintenance and the extra gear boxes and motors so there is an advantage to using our equipment in those type of applications.”
While Electrolift is a vital to the supply chain of these large manufacturers, it also relies on its own supply chain of mostly American-made parts and materials.
“We manufacture our own gearboxes and most of our gears,” Pilione said. “But if we buy gears we buy them from within the United States.”
Electrolift uses two motor suppliers for its hoists: Reuland Electric which manufactures its motors in Southern California, and Baldor Electric in Fort Smith, Ark.
“We try to keep as many of our components as we can from the United States,” Pilione said. “That’s important to us.”
But buying American is not always easy.
“There are certain things that are just getting harder to get, like the wire ropes on the hoists. American wire rope is so expensive now that a lot of rope is coming from China and Korea,” Pilione said. “And sometimes we expected American wire rope and didn’t know where it was coming from until it showed up and we saw Chinese markings on it."
"When these companies start investing money again and opening American plants with American equipment, it all trickles down. The local economy is one thing, the local restaurants and stuff that is near the plant, but it also effects the people that supply these companies with their goods." Steve Pilione
America saw the closure of many industrial plants during the Great Recession. This not only slowed business at Electrolift, but also for its own suppliers.
“Ford bringing truck production back to the U.S. is exactly what our country needed,” Pilione said. “When these companies start investing money again and opening American plants with American equipment, it all trickles down. The local economy is one thing, the local restaurants and stuff that is near the plant, but it also effects the people that supply these companies with their goods.
“Everybody complained when the government bailed out the automakers but you know what? That saved a lot of other companies, too. We are competing with all these companies from overseas that are backed by their governments in one way or another.”
Electrolift builds hot metal hoists that are used in pouring hot metal at foundries throughout America including Union Foundry in Anniston, Ala., a subsidiary of McWane Cast Iron Pipe. But some of its customers have shuttered many of their factories because of unfair competition from state-subsidized manufacturers in China.
“All these steel mills that are closed, those were are customers,” Pilione said. “They would bundle a bunch of steel together and they would use one of the twin-hook hoists to bring it out from where it was getting made to get cooled down. Then the hoists would put them on the trucks.
“That’s future business and that’s the parts business where all these people are losing their jobs.”
There are many advantages when making a product in America and Electrolift is utilizing these opportunities.
“We have hoists we are still selling parts for that were put in service in the ‘40s and ‘50s so we haven’t changed design. We feel like if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Pilione said. “All of the parts are made here and that’s a step up from some of our foreign competition. If they buy a foreign-made hoist at a cheaper price and they are trying to buy parts a year or so down the road, it’s going to take longer to get it if it’s coming from Germany or China. They are not putting a price on downtime. If you have an assembly line and your hoist goes down and you can’t get the parts in the next day, you are in trouble.”
Electrolift is a family-owned business. Pilione is a part owner along with his wife Julie, and Julie’s cousin Debbie Rechtschaffer, who is also director of operations. It was the grandfather of Julie Pilione and the grandfather of Rechtschaffer who came together to form Electrolift in New Jersey. They were proud of their Made in America hoists and today the family continues to support the American-made mission.
“Companies are starting to realize that they have more control over their supply chain when they are getting a product here rather than bringing it in from overseas,” Pilione said. “We can’t make it easier for these foreign companies to send their products here that are most likely inferior to ours.
“We have got to get people to understand. Nobody thinks about it, to look at a tag on a shirt when they are buying it. They want to buy the cheaper shirt. I understand that, too, but if everybody bought a few more things that were made in America every year, the economy would be much better off for it.”
Visit www.electrolift.com to learn more and find a distributor near you.