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75 years ago, the pallet truck was invented in New York

Matt Richmond/WSKG

On November 7, 1939, George G. Raymond received patents number 2 million 1hundred seventy eight thousand six hundred forty seven and forty eight. The patents were titled: ‘lift truck’ and ‘pallet’.

Or, in engineering speak:

“Two-faced pallets are used in connection with power-forked-tiering trucks. These power-forked-tiering trucks, we call them fork lifts today, not only transport the load but tier one load on top of the other. The bottom face of the pallet serves as a base for resting upon the load beneath.”

That’s George Raymond’s grandson, Steve, who’s now president of Raymond Handling Concepts Corporation in Fremont, California.

So Raymond Senior and his company, which started out as Lyon Iron Works, later became Raymond Corporation, and was bought by Toyota Industries in 2000, patented the wooden pallet 75 years ago Friday and, at the same time, patented the hand truck used to move those pallets around. That was the foundation of a company that now employs about 1500 people in the small town of Greene and sells its hand trucks all over the world.

The pallets, well, anybody can make those. The business is in the trucks to move them around. And today you can buy 600 of those wooden pallets on E-bay for 50 cents a pop.

At a party celebrating the 75th anniversary of the patents, cupcakes were served from the platform of a more modern-looking version of those first trucks. Two of Raymond’s grandsons, and the son of William House, whose name is also on the patent and was the company’s first engineer, were also attending.

Raymond the grandson says the simplicity of the two inventions will make them hard to replace, even 75 years later.

“Is there a better solution than the zipper? I mean that’s been around for a long time too. Maybe. Hardwood and pallets, it’s recyclable, it’s just boards and nails.”

WSKG/Southern Tier reporter for the Innovation Trail.