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Lifting a business to new levels

Ben Anderson stands in his Lafayette Lift Trucks shop, at the intersection of CR 1 and TH 15, 1022 CR 1, Lafayette.

For more than a quarter century, Lafayette Lift Trucks has sold and serviced fork lift trucks in Southern Minnesota.

Business owner Ben Anderson said his father Bob worked for Forklifts of Minnesota in Bloomington for 12 years before deciding to buy a farm house near Lafayette.

Bob Anderson worked as a road mechanic for Forklifts of Minnesota before deciding to go into the business on his own.

“Anybody that needed work on their forklift in 1998 had to call a specialist in the Twin Cities,” Ben Anderson said. “There were people that would fix them, nobody around here specialized in it, so we opened a fork lift repair shop. I’ve been working on forklifts since I was 11.”

In 2016, Ben began running the business. Bob continues to deliver new fork lifts and parts in Southern Minnesota. He’s here is I need him.”

Lafayette Lift Trucks employees from left, technicians Cole Nelson, Hector; and Jeff Kaiser, Fairfax; and Bob Anderson, Lafayette stand next to a new fork lift truck.

In 2019, Ben Anderson began selling Hangcha Forklift America, a large Chinese company with U.S. headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I found Hangcha,” said Anderson.

“I was looking for a fork lift brand to sell for a long time. I wanted to sell a reputable brand, not just an after-market brand. They support and sell industry-standard parts. Hangcha, one of the largest forklift companies in the world, has exactly the same motor and fuel system you find in Caterpillar, Mitsubishi, Nissan and other brands.”

Anderson said Hangcha has U.S. distribution centers in Charlotte, N.C., Houston and Los Angeles and plans to open another site in Chicago in the next few years.

“I sell LP gas-powered forklifts here,” Ben said. “Hangcha’s new battery-powered lifts have a 10-year, 20,000-hour battery warranty. I’m sold out of those right now.”

Anderson said his service area extends from Rochester to about 45 minutes west of Marshall, to the Iowa border and north to Sauk Centre.

His forklift customers include famers, cooperatives and manufacturers.

Anderson said Hangcha builds lifts from pallet jacks to 100,000-pound capacity forklifts.

Forklift engines are powered by electricity, LP gas, gasoline and diesel fuel.

“Hangcha recently began producing lithium-battery powered, 30,000-pound forklifts,” said Anderson. “Hangcha also produces lithium batteries.”

“We can service people with one or dozens of forklifts on site,” Ben said. “Jeff Kaiser and I drive service trucks. Cole Nelson is Anderson’s in-shop technician.”

Besides Hangcha, Anderson said he recently became a dealer for the Canadian manufacturing company, Skyjack, Inc. The firm builds aerial work platforms that can be used in rough terrain.

Anderson’s wife Cassie works for Sibley County. Their children are LaNae, 4; and Aurora, 2.

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