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JLG marks 30 years of giving workers a lift

January 08, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - Two milestones occurred in 1969, including one that had worldwide implications and one that showed that big things can happen in small towns like McConnellsburg.

Man walked on the moon for the first time in July 1969. Seven months earlier, in what was to become JLG Industries Inc., a handful of workers started to build an aerial work platform. When finished a year later it stretched 27 feet into the air.

Today JLG, which started out as Fulton Industries Inc. by John L. Grove and his partner, Paul Shockey, a mechanical engineer, calls itself the world's largest manufacturer of aerial work platforms. Last year it reported net sales of nearly $531 million.

On Friday, more than 1,000 JLG employees were honored at a 30th anniversary luncheon in the company's main assembly building.

"Considering our humble beginnings there truly is much to be thankful for," L. David Black, chairman of the board and president and chief executive officer, told the assembled workers. Among them were five of the company's original 23 employees who are still working for JLG, Fulton County's largest employer.

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"We have become the defacto standard by which others in our industry are judged and we continue to set the pace as the global leader," Black said.

Also present were three of the four original members of the Fulton Industrial Association, the local economic development agency that bought the land and built the shell of a manufacturing plant in the hopes of luring a company to McConnellsburg. Grove and Shockey took the bait. The original building is still used by JLG today, said Loy Garber, director of community relations.

In 1946 Grove and two partners started what was to become Grove Worldwide in Shady Grove, Pa. That company became an international leader in the manufacture of mobile cranes. Grove sold out in 1967 and two years later started making aerial work platforms in the new McConnellsburg plant.

He got the idea for the platforms by watching workers struggling on ladders and scaffolding at construction sites.

JLG makes boom, telescopic and scissor-lift aerial work platforms. The tallest reaches 150 feet high.

The company also has a manufacturing plant in Bedford, Pa.

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