Bahrns Equipment has been proudly serving the industry for over 45 years.  We are an authorized distributor of the most trusted brands available in the business.  We welcome you to and thank you for choosing us as your products supplier.


The History of Material Handling

The United States Dept. of Defense defines material handling as the “movement of materials (raw materials, scrap, semi-finished, and finished) to, through, and from productive processes; in warehouses and storage; and in receiving and shipping areas.” Even the smallest factory or warehouse engages in handling product and equipment on a daily basis.

Logistics is the science of this subject. The origin of the term is disputed, but most authorities agree that the word came into common parlance as a branch of military science. The organized, efficient movement of personnel and equipment is crucial to the success of any military operation and many of today’s industrial equipment have their origins in military technology or are improvements on existing technologies for military purposes. For example:

  • The modern container ship was originally designed to transport equipment needed by American soldiers during the Vietnam War.
  • The precursor to the modern forklift was an electric platform truck used by the Pennsylvania Railroad for transporting luggage. In WWI, improvements were made both for the sake of the war effort and to make up for manpower shortages in industry.

By the 1960s, material handling had been redefined to reflect its modern function as a means of transporting, storing, conveying, positioning, elevating and packaging materials as efficiently as possible in order to reduce costs. It was during this time that Bahrns was founded in Effingham, Illinois. The company founders saw a missing link in the supply chain so vital to the cost-efficient movement and storage of goods and materials in their area. That missing link was a single source for such equipment and supplies needed by the Central Illinois business community.

From the beginning, Bahrns Equipment strove to meet all of their customers’ demands – from  packaging tape to the equipment they needed for getting product from one place to another. The company grew organically over the years in response to those needs, adding more products to their inventory as they became available and to satisfy the demands of their growing customer base.

A new era is upon us today. The internet has vastly improved the logistics, streamlining the processing of orders and enabling companies to greatly increase their reach. There is a downside to internet commerce, though. Many start-up companies are very good at internet technology, but lack the experience in the field to serve customers as they deserve to be served. Here again, Bahrns Equipment has stepped in to fill a missing link in the supply chain. With a history spanning nearly half a century, Bahrns is uniquely qualified to provide unparalleled levels of service to a nationwide network of customers.

Material handling is not just a business to the Bahrns team – it’s their passion, because they know that it is at the heart of America’s success as a nation.

Further Reading:

The History of Material Handling Equipment
The World of Warehouse Supplies