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Forklifts With Fortitude

Bee Forest Products in Nelson, Wisconsin, is a hive of activity as load after load of hardwood lumber is shuffled between the sawmill and the dry kiln for curing.

The workers of the operation are three rough-terrain forklift trucks manufactured by Harlo Products of Grandville, Michigan. The vertical-mast forklifts do the heavy lifting with the power and brawn of Paul Bunyan, the giant lumberjack fabled throughout this Northwood region.   

Neither folklore nor myth surrounds these forklifts, however. Harlo has earned the coveted reputation for manufacturing robust and reliable forklifts, which is why Bob Bee, owner of Bee Forest Products, operates three of them.

“They’re tough and built strong; that’s very important in the wood industry because it can be abusive,” says Bee, who heads up the family operation. “We are not a typical lumberyard on paved concrete or blacktop. These forklifts must be durable enough to haul and lift heavy packs of lumber in all kinds of terrain, and the Harlo RTFL provides us with the dependability we are able to count on.” 

Harlo has been in business for nearly 80 years. Today, among other products, the company manufactures three primary HP Series forklift trucks with model numbers reflecting the lifting load capacity in pounds. These include the HP5000, HP6500, and HP8500. Bee owns and operates three HP8500s with the lifting load capacity of 3,856 kilograms (8,500 pounds). This model, as well as the HP6500, does a lot of heavy lifting commonly found on construction sites, oil and gas pipeline projects, and in rock quarries. The HP5000 forklifts are primarily found throughout the agriculture industry and are especially popular among citrus growers in California.          

Anthony Lirones, Harlo’s national sales and marketing manager, says the company’s HP Series forklift trucks are the result of decades of continual refinement. “Our forklifts are designed for the roughest terrain and have the reputation of providing results in tough conditions. When you consider our robust design, ground clearance, torque, and tight turning radius, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything else that can stand up to or even come close to our offering.” 

Low-end torque is the muscle behind the lift, and a John Deere PowerTech M 4.5L engine is the source of all that power. On all three Harlo HP Series models, the 55-kW (74-hp) engine drives a high-efficiency, pressure-and-flow compensated hydraulic piston pump — a unique feature of the HP Series of forklifts.  

“Torque is very important to us in getting the performance we need out of our units,” states Lirones. “The John Deere engine provides a unique torque band that starts quick, rises rapidly, and doesn’t take a lot of rpm to achieve.”  

Harlo currently powers its HP Series forklift trucks with the John Deere Interim Tier 4/Stage III B version of the 4.5L engine. With a flurry of engineering activity, the company has plans to transition over to a Final Tier 4/Stage IV model — the PowerTech EWX 4.5L engine — over the next 12 to 15 months.

Harlo has been a John Deere engine customer for decades and has progressed through each Tier level of emissions with the help from its John Deere engine distributor, Superior Diesel of Rhinelander, Wisconsin. 

“Superior Diesel has been very helpful in providing us with power solutions. They work on our behalf in spec’ing the power we need. We purchased a complete power package from them, designed for us, that’s ready to bolt into our drivetrain.”   

Harlo also makes use of John Deere service and support offered through its network of dealers. Nortrax of Tampa, Florida, with 48 locations nationwide and in Canada, is one of several John Deere dealerships that sell and service Harlo rough-terrain forklift trucks. “I’ve been selling equipment for 28 years and have come to realize how very dependable, rugged, and long-lasting the Harlo brand is in the industry,” says Nortrax salesman Tony Siverling. 

Bee purchased three HP8500 forklifts from Nortrax in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and he says they like the assurance of knowing the local dealer is there for any service and support that may be needed. “Our forklifts run 10-hour days,” says Bee. “Downtime means you’re losing money. We call Nortrax if there’s ever an issue. They’ve always been good to work with.”

Distributor: Superior Diesel, Inc. in Rhinelander, Wisconsin;


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