50 Years and Counting: MHS Lift’s Legacy Thrives

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MHS Lift’s 50-year legacy all started at a Philadelphia diner in 1970.

Bob Levin and Richard Reis had been working for a lift truck company and didn’t like the direction it was headed when it was sold by the owner. So, at the young age of 25 and 27 respectively, they decided to take a leap of faith and start their own forklift company. MHS Lift, Inc. was born.

“We sketched our first logo on a napkin,” recalls Bob. “It was scary, but the fear never interfered with the excitement and momentum.”

The Early Years

MHS Lift’s first location was two rooms of rented warehouse space on Adams Ave. in Philadelphia. They started out small – just a couple of hand trucks and pallet trucks as inventory.

In 1971, the company moved to a Camden, N.J. shipyard in an old 6,600 sq. ft. WWII military garage. By then, the company had acquired a service technician for the shop and road, and their first service van, whom they fondly named “Henry.”

The early years were all about “pounding the pavement” to succeed. Bob and Richard took out loans to get more vans and brought their part-time secretary on full-time.

“We aspired to become recognized as a trusted forklift company,” said Bob. “We took our customer service ‘to the extreme’ in the hopes of standing out in the market. It really worked for us.”

Gaining Traction

The Material Handling Supply Inc. headquarters from 1972-1977 was Frontage Industrial Park in Westville, N.J.

After eight months at the shipyard, the business picked up and moved again into a 10,000 sq. ft. building in the Industrial Park in Westville, N.J. MHS Lift started to acquire inventory from popular trusted brands and began to distribute for big businesses.

Part of MHS Lift’s success is attributed to the establishment of long-term relationships with clients – some have been with MHS Lift since year one. As these businesses grew in the market, so did MHS Lift.

In 1977, MHS Lift moved into a new headquarters on Old Salem Road in Brooklawn, N.J. It would remain the company’s home for 39 years.

In 1977, MHS Lift purchased a 20,000 sq. ft. property in Brooklawn, N.J., where they stayed for the next 39 years. In that time, MHS Lift increased sales, reaching quotas with big-name brands and hiring more employees. In 2003, the company added 10,000 sq. ft. to their property.

A Family Legacy

Bob Levin (right) with MHS Lift co-founder Richard Reis in 1988.

In the early 90s, MHS Lift got two extra sets of hands – Bob’s sons, Andy and Brett. It was anything but a straight shot to the top.

“They got dirt and grease under their fingernails when they first started,” said Bob. “Since they weren’t experienced technicians or mechanics, they needed to orientate themselves to the business.”

The Levin brothers spent time working in each of the company’s departments to learn every aspect of the business. To the brothers, the business was a part of them – as it grew, they grew.

Milestone: Levin Brothers Purchase Business

On December 31, 2012, Andy and Brett bought the business and became the sole owners. Building upon the foundation that was developed by their father, the brothers made a profound impact in little time.

Just two years later, they purchased MHS Lift’s current location – a renovated 104,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Pennsauken, N.J.  And since taking over the company reins only eight years ago, the business has tripled in size.

What’s the secret to their success? For one, their customer base is stable and growing every year. They have diversified their services to meet market demands – from warehouse optimization and automation, to telematics, to fleet management and more. And their dedicated employees are the best in the business – working hard to create the ultimate customer experience.

Besides building the “monetary” side of the business, the Levin brothers have worked very hard to build something that is very important to them: a strong company culture – one that is all about volunteerism and making a difference in local nonprofits and meaningful causes.

Brett and Andy take pride in their employees – and work hard to recognize them and show their appreciation. “Our employees are our best asset and we want to make MHS Lift a great place to work – a place where people want to be,” says Brett.

Personal touches organized by the employee-run “Fun” Committee include impromptu food truck visits, Halloween costume contests, bingo days in the office and food and supply collections for local nonprofits. MHS Lift’s thriving company culture has earned recognition in The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Business Journal as a Best Place to Work. The brothers also take great pride in the prestigious industry awards they’ve earned year after year, including UniCarriers Forklift 2019 Dealer of Excellence Award and Crown Equipment 2019 Summit Top Dealer Award.

Cheers to Another 50 Years

Brett and Andy are not just brothers. They are best friends who work well together and share the same vision of growing the business and instilling a strong company culture – one of appreciation and philanthropy.

“We come to work every day with a passion to grow our business and provide for our team and their families and our customers.”

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