Global construction equipment manufacturer Manitou has opened a plant in Vinhedo, Brazil, about 80 kilometers northeast of São Paulo. The plant will initially produce two telehandlers.

The French group—one of the world’s largest makers of telehandlers—arrived in Brazil in 2008 through commercial representation. Later, it opened post-sales support locations. With the new plant, Manitou takes even deeper roots.

“In South America, our market share is low compared to other continents, and this is why we establish ourselves in the country,” said Michel Denis, CEO of Manitou, who was present at the Aug. 24 factory opening. “Making the investment is not easy. The Brazilian market is cyclical, but it is very large and has the potential.”

François Piffard, vice president of sales and marketing, added that Brazil “will represent a large market for Manitou.” The Brazilian plant will also be a platform for export of products in Latin America.

The development of the machines to be manufactured in Brazil, models MT-X 1441 and MT-X 1841, began in early 2015. The larger model—MT-X 1841—with a maximum lifting capacity of 4,100 kilograms, lifting height of 17.6 meters and outreach of 13.5 m, was on display at the opening.

"The machines that are being released are for finishing works, lifting metal structure and precast concrete,” explained Marcelo Bracco, Manitou’s operations director for Latin America. They are “to work in buildings up to five floors.” Costs for the plant investment and machine sales were not disclosed.

Although most of the shooting-boom forklifts will be made in Brazil, the telescopic arms of the equipment will continue to be produced in France. Bracco also says that the brand is working to develop the company's distribution network in the country, today composed of 30 dealers, mostly concentrated in the south and southeast regions.

In terms of markets, the group has 41% of its business focused in building construction, 34% in agriculture and 25% in general industry. Besides telehandlers, products elsewhere in the world include skid-steer loaders, aerial-work platforms and straight-mast forklifts. In North America, Manitou also operates the Gehl and Mustang brands. On Aug. 22, it launched a new line of parts and maintenance kits for those compact equipment products.

The facility in Brazil covers 7,000 sq m and is said to be the 10th industrial plant of Manitou Group's world operations. The brand has five plants in France, three in the United States and one in Italy. The Brazil plant will generate 300 direct and indirect jobs, according to the company.

Last year, the group’s total revenue reached $1.44 billion across 140 countries and 3,200 workers.

Augusto Diniz is the editor of O Empreiteiro magazine, a construction publication in Brazil.