Michele Wiggins McDowell and Michael Marzhal are young executives affiliated with Wiggins Lift Company. Ms. McDowell may be the first female chief executive officer of a forklift design and manufacturing company in the US and Marzhal the president of XLLifts, a Wiggins dealer.
As the third-generation Wiggins to become the chief executive officer of the leading manufacturer of marina forklifts in the world, Michele will tell you that her blood lines may have provided the connection, but her qualifications for the job are a result of learning the forklift business from the bottom up. She began working at the Wiggins factory in Oxnard, California at age fourteen.
Michele is the daughter of second generation Wiggins CEO Mike Wiggins, and granddaughter of company’s founder Mel Wiggins. She began her career running parts, working as head janitor, office assistant and lead go-for. After a four-year separation to attend college at Abilene Christian University, Michele returned to the factory as director of purchasing and then chief financial officer before taking the helm after father Mike Wiggins stepped down. Mike still works and has assumed the title of president of the company.
Wiggins is the world’s leading manufacturer of marina forklifts, shipping product throughout the globe. They have designed the world’s largest marina trucks, used to lift yachts from the water, transport them back to boat storage facilities and insert them into their multi-level slots. Wiggins has also produced forklifts for the agricultural fields of California, for the U.S. military, for nuclear power plants and specialty lift trucks for the marine terminal industry.
Providing the industries they support with technologically advanced forklift equipment to do specialty jobs is Wiggins’ forte. As an example, Wiggins won a contract with the U.S. Navy to design a specialty lift truck that uses computer technology to adjust itself so it can work in all levels of sea states. The trucks are at work on the sophisticated Littoral class Navy destroyers.
One of the key indicators of Wiggins’ capabilities is their close relationship with long time forklift manufacturer Taylor Machine Works. While Wiggins competes with Taylor in the industrial forklift market, Taylor and Wiggins have come together to market and support Wiggins’ line of marina lift trucks. Taylor provides sales and service for Wiggins for a five-state market in the Southeast. Taylor’s excellent reputation is to Wiggins advantage as much as Wiggins worldwide acceptance in the marina industry is to Taylor.
One of Wiggins’ key advantages in the cargo handling industry is its ability to embrace technology, resulting in cutting edge forklift design and manufacturing. Long-time employee Bruce Farber, recently named the American Society of Mechanical Engineer’s Engineer of the Year, has worked to design and fabricate forklifts that offer excellent operator visibility both front and back, and a low center of gravity with the highest tip factor in the industry. Wiggins lift trucks include the power to maximize lift efficiency and are easily serviced.
Wiggins ro/ro forklifts provide an excellent environmental and operational foot print while offering a three-stage mast which is the lowest overall mast height with a maximum lift of 15’. The newest Wiggins ro/ro truck, the Wiggins 550 Ro/Ro features a Tier IV final compliant rated Volvo Penta engine. The forklift’s design includes the highest lift capacity for a low-profile ro/ro lift truck with the lowest center of gravity, featuring the heaviest and lowest profile counter weight in the industry.
Their 550 model, provided to Ports America, has more lift capacity at 48’ load center than competitive lift trucks rated as heavier 600 or 620 models and has the lowest center of gravity and highest tip factor of any lift truck its size. The counter weight is easily removed if the terminal operators wish to lift the truck into the hold of a vessel to work cargo. It is also designed to create a low center of gravity and excellent rear visibility.
The Wiggins Information Center, IQAN System monitors engine performance and status. Additional technologies like sensors, cameras and overload warning systems are available.
In August of 2015, Wiggins created its first authorized dealer, naming XLLifts located in Ventura, California. Headed by Michael Marzhal, president of the new organization and former Director of Sales for Wiggins for over 16 years, XLLifts will provide sales and service for Wiggins marina and marine terminal lift trucks.
In addition, XLLifts will market new technology by MYMIC Software, provider of an easy to use, machine inspection program that operating companies can utilize to not only conduct required equipment maintenance, but also safety and OSHA compliance inspections.
Instead of cumbersome paperwork, the results of the inspections will be stored for them and available via retrieval from the cloud. Maintenance personnel can utilize their smart phones or tablet cameras to conduct the inspections programmed in their devices. With downloads, they can access manufacturers maintenance and safety inspection punch lists to ensure that their personnel are inspecting the most pertinent, safety related components on their equipment.
With this data, maintenance managers can make better maintenance and safety assessments on each piece of equipment. Once the company has decided to utilize the system, stickers with special bar codes identifying each piece of equipment can be applied. With just a few clicks of smart phones or tablet, barcodes are scanned and crews can complete inspections using the manufacturer’s recommended inspection form. Daily, weekly or monthly inspections can be completed depending upon the status of the equipment.
The key to this technology is that maintenance managers or mechanics will have accountability and can access the reports at any time on the web via their smartphones or tablets. Information will be available to make decisions on what to do with a particular piece of equipment and OSHA compliance inspection results will be on hand immediately saving costly fines for lost or incomplete forms.
This system can save thousands of dollars in penalties from OSHA and can assist a company in equipment maintenance or acquisition decisions. The cost of each inspection, per machine, is approximately the same as the cost of a cup of coffee according to XLLifts.