100 Years of Innovation.
In 1922, George Raymond Sr. moved his family to the village of Greene, New York, with a dream of revitalizing a faltering tool manufacturing company called Lyon Iron Works. The move was risky. But George Sr. had a plan and wasted no time getting started. The company that would become The Raymond Corporation went on to experience 100 years of extraordinary success and helped shape an entire industry. Here, we'll explore the journey from small-town upstart to industry leader — and the commitment to innovation that made it possible.
In the beginning, there is Lyon Iron Works.
The modest but vital operation is located on the Chenango Canal in Greene, New York, which allows barges to carry raw materials to the plant to forge into hardwood and iron products like sawmills and wrought-iron fencing.
In 1922, George Raymond Sr. moves upstate from Brooklyn and buys a controlling interest in Lyon Iron Works.
Here, he focuses on specific customer needs to grow the business, which helps create buckboards (essentially, dollies with cast-iron wheels) and the Lyon Utility Truck, a patented 3-wheel platform designed for moving baskets, totes and crates — products that eventually become the high-tech Raymond® lift trucks of the 21st century.
During a trip to Ben Spanle's barbershop in the basement of the Chenango House (the current Sherwood Hotel) in Greene, New York, George Raymond Sr. has a spark of inspiration.
What if the hydraulic system used to raise and lower a regular barber chair is repurposed to lift and lower materials?
George Sr. rents the chair from the barber, brings it to his shop and is inspired to develop the first hydraulic lift truck.
In the mid-1930s, Lyon Iron Works experiences a flurry of innovation and growth.
During this time, George Raymond Sr. and William (Bill) House design and build the double-faced wooden pallet. Unlike the single-faced pallet, this new design, which is still standard in the 21st century, permits the high stacking of crushable goods. In 1936, George Sr. and Bill dream up the revolutionary L4P, the first hand pallet truck to transport their new double-faced pallets. The pallet and the L4P are both granted patents in 1939, but in a show of commitment to the industry, George Sr. donates the double-faced wooden pallet patent to the material handling industry.
Christian (Chris) D. Gibson, a professional engineer, is hired to help innovate new material handling equipment.
In 1947, he designs the agile L2P, which could lift 2,000 pounds higher than any of the other competitors. Chris is responsible for over 200 patents during his career at Raymond.
Harry Masserole, a grocery warehouse consultant, is convinced that wide aisle warehousing is costing the American industry millions of dollars in wasted space.
His solution? To narrow the aisles between the racks to increase the number of products in the same space. Masserole approaches the Lyon-Raymond Corporation with his idea, and George Raymond Sr. immediately sees the possibilities. Christian (Chris) D. Gibson is asked to bring the idea to life, which results in the very first electric narrow aisle lift truck, patented Aug. 14, 1951. Raymond continues to innovate in this area and develops the "straddle" design that preserves a lift truck's gravitational integrity by straddling the pallet with baselegs. Raymond quickly becomes known as "The Narrow Aisle People."
George Raymond Sr., now the sole owner of the company, formally changes the name to The Raymond Corporation.
The sales reach $1 million, and there are over 4,000 customers; some are the largest companies in America. He proves innovation can take many forms by introducing profit sharing to his employees.
The company is represented in the United States and globally in more than 60 cities through a local dealership network. Two dealers — Werres and G.N. Johnston — still represent The Raymond Corporation in the 21st century.
The Raymond chorus is formed when several employees with a shared passion for singing meet to pursue their interest.
The first group, 16 members strong, is known as The Voices of Raymond. The chorus sings at company, community and fundraising events. In 1970, the chorus releases a stereo album of music. The 100th-year celebration in 2022 brings back the group with both new and past members.
The concept of self-driving vehicles is considered absurd by most. But one group of engineers is busy working on just that with IBM.
The Raymond Corporation realizes the practicality of automating material handling equipment and buys a controlling interest in the company Mobility Systems Inc. (MSI). The first innovation uses a Raymond® "walkie" truck guided automatically by a wire in a floor. MSI works with Raymond to develop a computer-controlled order picking truck in 1967.
George Raymond Jr. pioneers a participative management philosophy at the company, something quite new to corporate America at the time.
The Raymond Corporation becomes a team effort, empowering employees throughout the whole organization.
The Raymond Corporation takes a big leap into the future by embracing the newest computer technology to create customized solutions.
RAY-DATA uses the speed of computers to investigate individual material handling problems and provides the customer with an optimum handling system and warehouse layout.
The Raymond Corporation builds the first very narrow aisle (VNA) Swing-Reach® truck in North America. VNA lift trucks operate in aisles less than 5 feet wide.
The Raymond Parts Distribution Center (PDC) opens in East Syracuse, New York. In 2022, more than 8 million parts are shipped annually with 24/7 service.
The Raymond Corporation introduces the ELECTOTE automatic guided vehicle.
This breakthrough advancement provides horizontal transportation for manufacturing, distribution and warehousing applications to free up the forklift operator for more productive activities. The need to repurpose labor through automation will hold true 40 years later.
The Raymond Corporation commissions renowned designer Massimo Vignelli to update the Raymond logo.
Vignelli also has designed logos for several large companies. His work produces the distinct, signature look and identity of the Raymond logo that is used in the 21st century.
The Raymond Corporation produces the first microprocessor-controlled drive system for lift trucks.
The patented intellidrive® system dramatically reduces the number of mechanical and electromechanical components in the lift truck. Soon the intellidrive is teamed up with another innovation, the Turbo Lift, a solid-state, electronically controlled lift system for reach trucks. This pairing results in the most productive interaction between operator and machine that the industry has ever seen.
The Raymond Corporation hires its first industrial design manager, Tom Noonan, not because he was once an ace fighter pilot but because he is now a top-notch industrial designer.
But his familiarity with the legendary F-4 Phantom fighter jet, especially its high-functioning control handles, provides him a unique perspective that he capitalizes on by asking, "What if we take that same fighter jet handle functionality and incorporate it into a lift truck?" The resulting control handle allows an operator to execute all the functions of a lift truck with just one hand.
The Raymond Corporation develops the Dealer Alliance Recruiting and Training (D.A.R.T.) program.
This intensive 12-week program develops qualified professional material handling specialists who can assist customers to achieve their business objectives through the design and implementation of comprehensive material handling solutions.
The Raymond Corporation is sold to BT Industries of Sweden, making it an international company.
Raymond retains its own brand, products and distribution.
Toyota Industries of Japan acquires BT Industries of Sweden.
The combination of The Raymond Corporation, BT Industries and Toyota now makes up the largest lift truck manufacturer in the world. Raymond continues to retain its own brand, products and distribution.
The Muscatine, Iowa, plant is added to the Raymond family.
All walkies and stackers are manufactured here.
The new century starts with the first AC-powered Reach-Fork® truck, introduced on the 50th anniversary of the first narrow aisle truck. The AC-powered truck improves productivity, increases work done per battery charge and reduces maintenance costs.
The Raymond® 5000 Series orderpicker is launched, combining superior versatility, intuitive handling and easy maintenance. This orderpicker immediately leads the industry with fast acceleration and smoother lifting and lowering via a patented actuator.
The Raymond Corporation introduces the iWAREHOUSE® Fleet and Warehouse Optimization System, which is capable of sending real-time information about each lift truck in a warehouse right to a computer desktop. iWAREHOUSE expands over the years and, in 2022, provides a whole range of intelligent technology solutions to collect, optimize, monitor, secure and control assets and enable workers.
The patented Hydraulic Regeneration System for lift trucks provides regen by recovering energy from the hydraulic system to power the electrically operated components.
The Raymond Corporation introduces the iWAREHOUSE® Labor Management System (LMS), which offers greater visibility into the operational workforce — optimizing productivity and minimizing costs.
LMS integrates data from a variety of sources, so you can track and measure work activity to drive continuous improvement and gain a more complete picture of your business.
The Raymond Corporation introduces the Raymond Courier™ automated guided vehicles, including pallet, tow tractor and stacker lift trucks.
They are easy-to-implement, vision-guided solutions that are operational from Day 1. Workers are freed up to take on more productive activities, benefiting the customer with more efficient, flexible and scalable operations.
The Raymond Corporation — continuing to find flexible, high-density storage solutions — offers the Radioshuttle®.
This semi-automated, high-density pallet racking system increases operational efficiency and maximum use of warehouse space.
The Raymond Corporation introduces the Virtual Reality (VR) Simulator to help train new and existing forklift operators.
This allows trainees to experience a simulated warehousing environment that provides an immersive experience for operators and, for trainers, the ability to provide immediate feedback. This leading-edge and highly impactful learning tool has won many awards, including the 2019 Edison Award for Best New Product, IFOY Award for Best in Intralogistics and Fast Company's Most Innovative Company. The VR Simulator complements Raymond's Safety On The Move®, a comprehensive forklift training program that was developed in 1992.
Aiming to streamline workflows, The Raymond Corporation introduces Raymond Advance™ Operator Assist technology, which reduces low-level picking redundancies and operator fatigue for greater efficiency and productivity. It also can be coupled with the patented Pick2Pallet™ LED light system, which will direct operators where to place picked products through colored light cues in tandem with voice picking solutions.
The need for energy-efficient solutions is more pressing than ever, and The Raymond Corporation responds by developing a line of groundbreaking lithium-ion batteries. These batteries allow for continuous data exchange between the Raymond® lift truck and the battery, providing full visibility into the battery's state of charge, fault codes and necessary maintenance in real time.
Forty-one years after introducing the unique Transtacker (TRT) to address the need for even narrower aisles, The Raymond Corporation introduces an automated version.
The Raymond® Automated Transtacker (TRT) is available in a dual-mode (operator on/off) solution that combines the space- and labor-saving benefits of automated storage and retrieval systems with the flexibility to change aisles when needed.
The very narrow aisle design and dual-application versatility provide full pallet handling and case picking and make this lift truck the ultimate solution for high-density, high-selectivity storage environments.
The Raymond Corporation has grown into a leading global company. The dealers George Raymond Jr. introduced in the 1940s have evolved to Solutions and Support Centers. There are now 20 Solutions and Support Centers in North America servicing over 100 key North American markets with representation in 41 countries. The Raymond Corporation has three primary facilities:
Greene, New York
Offices and manufacturing
Syracuse, New York
If the last 100 years has taught us anything, it's that there are few things more powerful than a creative mind coupled with an audacious spirit.
This mix of innovation and audacity has allowed The Raymond Corporation, time and again, to not only imagine the future but also bring that future to life. And with that spirit still as strong as ever, there's no reason why the next 100 years can't contain countless innovations — some that are being dreamed up at this very moment and others still too distant to even imagine.