Volume 2 | Issue 4 | Year 1999

Using the latest technology along with superior manufacturing techniques, this maker of work platforms has seen remarkable growth recently.

In 1958, a company known as Snorkel Fire Equipment Company was founded in Grandview, Mo. This company began the manufacture of an innovative machine: An elevating platform used for fighting fires and for rescue work. This product evolved into a combination ladder/water tower, known as the Tele-Squrt. In 1977, Snorkel expanded into the construction market, introducing a telescoping aerial work platform. There were other companies building elevating work platforms at that time, but Snorkel’s experience, superior hydraulic and electrical systems, and premium materials kept them well ahead of the competition. Now, based in St. Joseph, Mo., the company is known as Snorkel International. There are two manufacturing plants and another office in Kansas, plus offices in Australia and New Zealand.

In December 1998, Snorkel sold its firefighting platform division, enabling the company to devote its considerable resources and know-how to manufacturing the finest work platforms in the industry. These platforms are widely used in the rental business, in construction and in industrial maintenance, as well as in more than 100 other trades. As vice president Don Roach says, “Today’s workers do not like the idea of having to climb to overhead workstations. They know that aerial work platforms are much easier and safer to use compared to ladders and scaffolding. In some cases, they simply refuse to perform overhead work without the use of an aerial platform.”

Safety is No. 1

The issue of safety has been paramount in Snorkel’s success. On this subject, Roach says, “Safety is the major driving force pushing the growth of the aerial work platform industry. There are a number of projects (construction, industrial, etc.) that require workers to be tied with a fall-protection lanyard when six or more feet off the ground. This is rather difficult to accomplish when using ground ladders or rolling scaffolds.”
Operating a mobile elevated work platform, as with any other piece of industrial machinery, requires training and certification. Snorkel has put several innovative programs in place to ensure that com-pany platforms are being used by qualified individuals. Snorkel’s most comprehensive program is known as “Train the Trainers.” The company makes sure that those who train and certify others to use their platforms are themselves completely proficient. It designed the first computer-based interactive training method in the industry, and has also produced a training CD-ROM, which is available to the general public. Snorkel’s service and sales forces must also undergo extensive training; both basic and advanced programs are available.

Increased Productivity

Another advantage of Snorkel’s platforms is increased productivity and decreased downtime. Considering the time work-ers spend climbing up and down, moving ladders, and assembling and disassembling scaffolding, it is easy to understand why aerial work platforms have become standard equip-ment on more and more job sites. Roach says, “Productivity is many times greater for workers using aerial platforms rather than ground ladders or scaffolds. The workers quickly move up to the workstation, perform the job, then drive to the next station. Most of all, aerial work platforms can be driven at full elevation over firm, level surfaces, eliminating the need to lower, drive to the work area, and then elevate once again.” Furthermore, Roach continues, “The cost of having workers climb ladders, or erect and climb scaffolding is eliminated. They can quickly and easily move to overhead work sites and perform the work they are paid to do.”

Elevated Platforms for Any Application

Snorkel manufactures elevated platforms for virtually any use. There are many models to choose from, each one ideal for its application. All platforms have standard safety and maintenance features, such as a 60-month warranty, easy access to electrical components and spring-loaded brakes that are applied once the wheels stop moving, which provide further evidence that Snorkel offers the preferred elevated work platform worldwide. Most of the platforms can be driven while fully extended, a feature which greatly increases productivity.

Snorkel Telescoping Booms range in extension from 37 to 126 feet, supporting weights ranging from 500 to 700 pounds. These booms set the standard for the industry, with features such as lightweight materials and optional 4-wheel drive. Furthermore, all controls can be operated from the platform, and the boom can be driven while fully extended.

Snorkel’s line of articulating booms are platforms mounted on multi-jointed arms, which are designed to reach out and over objects, providing safe, easy access to overhead jobs. Narrow design and a tight turning radius allows them to be used safely in congested areas, and light overall weight allow them to be used where weights are limited. This line features 11 models, each with superior standard features and a wealth of options.

Snorkel’s Telescoping/ Articulating Jib Booms are available in three heights: 72, 106, and 132 feet. Jobs at these heights require tremendous amounts of downtime to climb ladders or scaffoldings, climb down, reposition, then climb back up. This line of specialty platforms is far safer and more efficient.

Ranging in height from 21 to 31 feet, and in weight support from 500 to 850 pounds, the Narrow Slab Scissorlifts are “designed to go where the work is.” A narrow, compact design combined with relatively light weights allow these platforms to be moved from floor to floor via standard elevators.

Rough Terrain Scissorlifts are designed for just what their name suggests. They range in height from 30 feet, nine inches to 45 feet, 10 inches. The platform is six feet by 10 feet (and can be extended to 14 feet) and can hold up to 1,750 pounds. This rugged line of platforms combines Snorkel’s superior manufacturing techniques with the recognition that some working conditions are less ideal than others.

Keeping Up With Technology

As technology is evolving, so is Snorkel’s designing and manufacturing techniques. Snorkel is always making investments in the latest technology in order to provide its customers with better, safer and more cost-effective products.

Snorkel’s main market is the rental business, in which the recent trend of larger rental companies acquiring smaller ones, and ultimately one another, is aiding in Snorkel’s tremendous growth in the industry, at a rate of 15 percent to 20 percent each year. Along with the consolidation of the rental industry, Snorkel is poised to continue its astounding growth well into the future.