CEO Michele McDowell in American Journal of Transportation

CEO Michele McDowell in American Journal of Transportation

Wiggins Lift and CEO Michele McDowell in the American Journal of Transportation

Wiggins Lift Co., Inc. and Michele Wiggins-McDowell was recently featured in an article in the American Journal of Transportation. The article highlights Wiggins’ use of the latest technology for safety, durability, efficiently, environment-friendliness, and strength. Noting that Michele may be the first female CEO of a forklift design and manufacturing company, the article continues:


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…

To read the full article, visit AJOT.

Happy Fourth of July from Wiggins Lift!

Happy Fourth of July from Wiggins Lift!

Happy Fourth of July

From Wiggins Lift Company!

From the Wiggins team to all of you—Happy Fourth of July!

Have fun, stay safe, and lift responsibly.

Stay tuned for a series of posts in the coming weeks that will cover the Wiggins approach to

  1. How we combine the idea of standardized components AND options for our customers.
  2. How we combine the idea of standardized controls AND options for our customers.
  3. Our axles and your options
  4. Our excellent support staff for parts and service, regardless of the options you choose for your lift

Notice a theme? Wiggins is known worldwide for custom engineering and tailoring lifts to our customers’ needs, while also offering great service and parts supply.


Wiggins’ Bruce Farber Selected as ASME Engineer of the Year

Wiggins’ Bruce Farber Selected as ASME Engineer of the Year

Wiggins’ Bruce Farber Selected as
ASME Engineer of the Year

Wiggins Lift Co., Inc. was honored last year by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Channel Islands (ASME) for our innovative Marina FLX. This year, our own Bruce Farber has been named the ASME Engineer of the Year.

Bruce has been a vital part of the Wiggins’ team for almost twenty years as Technical Director at Wiggins Lift. He was recently promoted to Director of Business Development and Special Projects, making use of his expertise, experience, and intimate knowledge of Wiggins’ products to help customers make the best choice.


From the ASME release:

Bruce Farber stands out as not just as the ASME Mechanical Engineer of this Year, but his technical and professional achievements over the arc of his career span many areas of Mechanical Engineering. Bruce is a local product, having earned both his BS and MS Mechanical Engineering degrees from UCSB in 1979 and 1980, respectively. As an undergrad, he earned Highest Honors, Magna Cum Laude, and also resurrected the dormant ASME Student Chapter at UCSB. Over the 36 years of his professional career, Bruce has served as a member and officer of both ASME Channel Islands and California Society of Professional Engineers.Over 36 years, Bruce has demonstrated his technical skills and leadership, from Lab Assistant to Engineering Director, from the Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory in Port Hueneme to Oceaneering Technologies to the present day at Wiggins Lift Company in Oxnard. Along the way, he has earned 9 patents –for the US Navy for seawater hydraulic diver tools, tennis racquet improvements to prevent tennis elbow, an exercise chair for paraplegics, and forklift safety technology. He analyzed and helped install the JAWS sharks in Florida and the first plastic wastewater outfall in California.

Key points of EOY’s career of accomplishments that merit recognition as EOY:

  1. Credentials include BS in Mechanical Engineering (1979) and MS in Mechanical Engineering (1980), both from UCSB; California Professional Engineer license in Mechanical Engineering.
  2. Progressive professional growth and technical achievement throughout his career, from Lab Technician to Engineering Director. Companies include Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory, Oceaneering Technologies, Allison Fitness, Hi-Temp Insulation, Proactive Technologies and Wiggins Lift Company. Recently he has taken a new position at Wiggins Lift as Director of Business Development and Special projects which allow him to combine his technical background with sales acumen.
  3. Holds 9 patents. 5 patents for the US Navy covers a seawater hydraulic tool system for divers, 2 patents cover improvements for tennis racquets to prevent tennis elbow. 1 patent for an exercise chair for paraplegics. 1 patent in forklift technology for enhanced stability control.
  4. Active member of ASME for 39 continuous years, from 1978 as undergraduate student at UCSB who helped re-establish the ASME UCSB Student Chapter to the present as member of ASME Channel Islands Section where he has held various leadership positions (including Chair) over the years. Also a member and officer of California Society of Professional Engineers where he also served as officer several times.

Congratulations to Bruce and our gratitude for his excellent work over the years! We are proud that you are part of the Wiggins’ team!

Welding Class Field Trip!

Welding Class Field Trip!

Welding Class Field Trip!

We were privileged to have the Channel Islands High School welding class for a visit Wiggins Lift!

Joe, Paul, and some others from our team took them on a tour of the facility, discussed our operations, watched some of the welders work, and got to talk with them all about our work. Thanks to their teacher, Jonathan Throckmorton, for helping set up the field trip. We enjoyed having this bright group of students, and wish them all the best in the future!

Safety through innovative engineering & technology

Safety through innovative engineering & technology

Safety through innovative engineering & technology

Safety is a critical characteristic of any high capacity machine. Mishaps cost money, time, and, worst of all, can cause injury or even death. That’s why Wiggins forklifts have standard safety features and options that save money.  With the lowest counter-weight in the industry, rear visibility is dramatically improved, which increases customer and employee safety while protecting property from damage.

But we don’t stop there. We use the latest cameras, sensors, and technology. Our Vision Plus™ safety system can differentiate people from objects and track them, warning the operator of possible safety hazards. The IQAN™ System with its adjustable monitor keeps the operator informed about engine performance and status.  Ask about our optional certified Rollover Protection System, which complies with international safety standards.

Visibility, sensors, cameras, engineered monitoring systems, and overload warning systems help ensure that Wiggins Yard Bulls meets the highest possible safety standards.

Happy Birthday, Hattie Wiggins!

On Wednesday, October 14, Hattie Wiggins turns 95 years of age.


Join us as we celebrate with her!

Her life is replete with imagery of Americana—Oklahoma share-cropping, Texas oil fields, California agriculture, WWII efforts, and a couple starting a small business to serve others. It reads like a Norman Rockwell painting brought to life!

Hattie America Wiggins was born in 1920 to a share-cropping family in Ada, Oklahoma. One of her earliest memories is of picking cotton—which she despised. But because she picked such clean cotton, everyone wanted her out there working. Her fastidiousness and attention to detail was present at an early age!

oil fields texasWhen she was 15, she married a farm boy named Melvin Wiggins. The ravages of the Great Depression were still present in Oklahoma (think Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath), so the young couple moved to Texas where Mel could find work in the booming oil fields. Building wooden oil derricks and living in a tent city, Mel was one of the youngest working in the fields at about 17. He loved doughnuts, so each morning Hattie would make a doughnut the size of a cast-iron skillet and take it to him for lunch. Soon, he was sharing this confection with his co-workers, so Hattie began making more. Their hospitable nature made Hattie and Mel favorites among the older workers, who took them under their wings.

By the early 1940’s, work in the oil fields was waning. There was a great migration west, to California, and the Wiggins joined in and landed in Newhall, just north of Los Angeles. Mel worked in the agriculture fields, where he worked as a ranch hand. It was here that he learned to weld. He was part of the crews who planted thousands of acres of grapefruit and orange orchards in the area (which are still there today). It was also here that the couple had their first child, Michael.

navy shipyard long beachWhen the United States became involved in World War II after Pearl Harbor, Mel and Hattie wanted to help their country. They moved to Hawthorne so Mel could work as a welder at the US Naval Dry Docks at Roosevelt Base near Long Beach (in 1945 it became the Long Beach Naval Shipyard). At its peak, Mel worked with over 16,000 other civilians, building new ships for the war effort. Mel eventually became the foreman of one of the welding teams. During this period, Hattie gave birth to their second child, a daughter they named Darleen.

When the War (and the work) ended, Hattie and Mel moved northward to Ojai, California. Mel worked with Hattie’s brother at Comb’s Welding for a few years, then bought his own welding rig and rented a small stall from Shaw’s Auto Repair. The “Wiggins Welding and Machine Shop” was an unpainted wooden shed, with no electricity, under a huge oak tree. Because Mel often worked until midnight, building up drill bits, Hattie and the kids took him dinner. The family ate together under the oak trees.

wiggins machine shop and weldingIn 1955, they incorporated Wiggins Welding and Machine Shop and moved to Oxnard, renting a two-stall building from Power Machinery. Hattie began working at the business. After a few years, the business grew, and they bought property along a frontage road beside Highway 101. During the day they worked at the shop, in late afternoons and weekends they built their new site.  Friends and family helped with framing, pipe-laying, masonry, and electrical work. Son Mike welded steel beams after school. It was a family-oriented business, just like Wiggins Lift today. (During this time, Mel had his first heart attack and, after years of smoking, quit the habit. To “help” him avoid a relapse, Hattie sewed shut the front pockets on all of Mel’s shirts, so he would have no where to keep a pack!)

After years of repairing agricultural trucks and lifts, Mel perceived a genuine need for equipment that could be serviced with ease in the field. Mel and Hattie knew they could build those machines. On June 3, 1963, Wiggins Lift Company, Inc., was born, out of a desire to make owner- and operator-friendly machines. In the ensuing decades, Hattie ran the office and kept the books, as Mel continued to innovate and serve the wider lift industry in California and beyond in agriculture, construction, and more.

21930009429_8b3fcdb7e6_zIn 1971, Hattie and Mel purchased an old H.L. Hunt chicken cannery just down the road. It became the new home of Wiggins Lift Company. The facility is still the company’s headquarters and primary factory, where Wiggins lifts are manufactured and shipped all over the world. Mel passed away in 1989, but Hattie and the family continue his tradition of innovation and customer-oriented service. Today, Hattie’s son, Mike, is president and her granddaughter, Michele, is CEO. Hattie still comes into the office almost every day, just as she has for 60 years. Happy 95th birthday, Hattie!



Feel free to leave Hattie a note in the comments section below.

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