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Guthrie company's specialty is offering customers a lift

July 6, 2011

Autoquip scissor lift manufacturing plant in Guthrie, OK.

The Oklahoman
Published: July 6, 2011

GUTHRIE - Imagine having drinks in a friend's underground man cave. While sitting at the bar, imagine seeing that same friend lowering his brand new Maserati sports car into a bullet proof area behind the bar.

Louis Coleman said that's a type of automation that Autoquip makes happen every day.

"There was a customer who had the most amazing man cave. But he wanted a way to showcase his car while his friends were at the bar sipping drinks," said Coleman, marketing and sales director at Autoquip in Guthrie.

Coleman said Autoquip immediately went to work customizing a lift that would allow him to do just that.

"That's what we do. We like to lift things," Coleman said. "Big things."

Changing times

Founded in 1947 in Chicago, Autoquip was a leading manufacturer of the lifts popularly used in gas stations during the 1950s and 1960s to lift cars above the ground so an attendant could change the oil.

Soon after the company moved to Guthrie in 1972, it started producing other types of lifts.

Now, the 60-year-old company employs 93 workers who manufacture standard scissor- and hydraulic-style industrial lift systems for company and government use.

Autoquip also designs and produces a lift that can lower and raise a car from one level to another, among other unusual products.

Government tests

Government contracts have offered some unusual experiences, he said.

The company worked with the U.S. Defense Department to test stealth planes in Dallas, Coleman said.

"We designed the lift that would take components of the plane up into the air. They would then bombard the pieces with radar to test its resistance," he said.

But the most unusual contracts come from Autoquip's wealthy, private customers, he said.

One of these projects involves a permanently installed lift that allows the customers to access their wine cellar via the outdoor water fountain. For that one, Autoquip outfitted an ordinary outdoor fountain with a pivot lift.

"Basically, it took the entire fountain up and there was a spiral staircase underneath that led to the cellar."

Pool or patio

Another celebrity, whom Coleman declined to identify, built a house in space-restricted Manhattan. She wanted a yard with a patio and a swimming pool. However, with the small amount of yard space, her contractor told her she had to choose one or the other.

That wasn't acceptable. She called Autoquip. The company came up with a solution.

This lift raises the floor of the swimming pool. As the floor lifts, drainage holes release the water and the floor becomes the patio.

"We can lift just about anything," he said.

Lifting big things is not the company's only accomplishment.

Guthrie Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mary Coffin said the company has been a major asset to the community.

As one of the biggest industrial companies in the state, she said, Autoquip has "offered a huge amount of jobs for the people."

"Autoquip has been here for years," she said. "They are very active in the community and contribute a lot to the city."

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