LiftGator Promotes Safer, More Convenient Equipment Transport

LiftGator Promotes Safer, More Convenient Equipment Transport
The LiftGator removable lift gate from Superior Solutions Mfg.

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The LiftGator removable lift gate from Superior Solutions Mfg., capable of lifting 1,000 pounds, attaches to the hitch receiver of a truck. Powered by the 12-volt truck battery and 3.9 hp motor, the folding, 48-inch aluminum gate rolls into place and can be installed by one person in about three minutes.

The result of a college class project, the LiftGator was designed by 22-year-old Justin Russo and fellow Cal Poly graduate Marty Affentranger.

“It was a one-year project, and I had been working on this for a year on my own when Marty became involved,” says Russo, president of Superior Solutions Mfg.

Working as a fabricator on a ranch in Goleta, California, Russo needed to move air compressors, blowers and generators but couldn’t lift the heavy equipment by himself.

“It’s a problem all of us face on a pretty regular basis,” says Russo, who was studying mechanical engineering at the time. “We use our trucks for work to move heavy things around. You can either get a bunch of guys to help you or try to muscle it yourself.”

In October 2014, Russo and Affentranger took top prize in the annual TechPitch competition for small businesses in the area.

“The judges liked the real-life application of the product,” says Russo, who compared the competition to TV’s Shark Tank. “You talk about your business, where you’ve come from and where you plan to go. They judge you on how successful they think you’ll be.”

The lift gate attaches to any pickup truck, flatbed or utility body truck equipped with a hitch receiver. The majority of the lifting weight is distributed to adjustable legs incorporated into the unit. A wiring kit connects to an adapter at the back of the truck to power the lift. The truck does not need to be running to operate the lift.

The lift gate can be used by pumpers, onsite installers and portable restroom operators to transport equipment to various onsite installations, special events and septic job sites.

“What we found is a lot of times you can send one person to do a job that you might have needed two people to lift. It helps you work more efficiently,” Russo says.

“The key feature of the lift gate is it’s removable. You only have it there when you need it and you can put it on multiple vehicles. If you have three, four, five trucks in a fleet, you can just put it on one truck for the worker who needs it. The No. 1 thing is safety. No one wants worker-comp claims.” 805/448-7183;


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