PPM reaches 20 years under Terex

PPM Anniversary Terex

On 20th May 2015 the staff of a crane factory at Montceau-les-Mines in France posed for this photograph to mark 20 years of Terex ownership.

In 1995, 20 years ago, Terex Corporation of the USA took over the leading French mobile crane producer PPM. It was a significant acquisition for Terex, coming just as a young Ron DeFeo took over as CEO.  With Fil Filipov by his side, DeFeo embarked on a long series of acquisitions in the years ahead, including Demag, Genie, Comedil, Peiner, Schaeff, Atlas American Crane, Fantuzzi, Fuchs, Fermec, Powerscreen, Italmacchine and Franna. But it all began with PPM.

PPM was significant for at least three reasons: it gave Terex all-terrain crane capability; it gave it international spread; and it put the company into the dockside material handling sector. At its factory in Montceau-les-Mines, a former mining town in central France, PPM made all terrain cranes as well as reach stackers for lifting and moving shipping containers. PPM also owned an Italian company called Bendini, which made rough terrain cranes, and Century II, a US manufacturer that made P&H (originally Pawling & Harnischfeger) rough terrain and truck cranes. This all came to Terex.

Seven years later PPM’s crane capability rather faded into obscurity when Terex bought the much larger Demag mobile crane business in Germany. PPM continued to make smaller two- and three-axle cranes but its reach stackers became the more important product line to Terex. When Terex subsequently bought the Demag industrial cranes business as well, PPM’s port offerings were also somewhat overshadowed but by bringing PPM reach stackers into a much larger family of port machinery – including Demag ship-to-shore cranes and Gottwald harbour cranes, PPM’s position actually became stronger. The 20th anniversary of Terex ownership also marked the production of the 3,000th reach stacker from what is now called Terex Port Solutions.

“We are celebrating two milestones in the history of Terex,” said Ron DeFeo (pictured below). “I would like to thank our customers and team members, who have made Montceau-les-Mines what it is today: a site where innovation is built on proven expertise and cooperation.”

Ron DeFeo _CEO Terex

PPM’s history goes back beyond Terex, of course, although (perhaps surprisingly to some), it was only under Terex that stability arrived.

The company was originally called Poclain Potain Manutention. It was created in 1967 as a joint venture between excavator maker Poclain and tower crane maker Potain, both of whom were French. The factory at Montceau-les-Mines opened in 1968. In 1977 JI Case bought control of Poclain, including its interest in PPM but it took Case until 1988 to realise that it had no desire to be in the crane business and sold its share to its partner in the venture, Legris, the parent company of Potain. It was under the sole ownership of Legris – and a subsidiary of Potain – that PPM sought expansion, buying Bendini (in 1988) and Century II-P&H (in 1991).

According to Stuart Anderson’s history of the mobile hydraulic crane industry, Telescopic Boom, PPM was by this time producing more telescopic boom mobile cranes than any other company in Europe, making approximately 750 units a year.

But sustained commercial success proved elusive and, saddled with debt, Legris sold PPM to Terex in 1995. Six years later, in 2001, Legris pulled out of cranes completely when it sold Potain to The Manitowoc Company Inc., Terex’s great rival in the USA.

It is pointless to speculate on what might have been, but sometimes interesting nonetheless. What if Terex had been able to – or perhaps chosen to – acquire Potain and PPM at the same time? The history of crane manufacturing would surely have developed rather differently, one way or another.

 

Steve Rhine

About Steve Rhine

Community Manager at MachineryZone USA - All latest construction news on MachineryZone Mag!