Partnering with you to safely move and store product, with efficient labor and energy resources, is what Applied Handling has been doing since 1952. Our job is delivering the latest technologies and industry best practices.  We turn downtime into uptime.

With more than 6 decades of experience in making facilities more productive and cost effective, our solution specialists know how to maximize your throughput and storage space capacity.  They do this while minimizing safety hazards and energy consumption. This is what we do best.

Factory trained installers and service technicians, and a fleet of fully equipped service vehicles, transform design concepts into a high performance facility.


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Rite-Hite Distributor - Michigan

“Ask us how we turn downtime into uptime. Let us show you how to make material handling and facility management what you do best”.

Bruce Bacon, President

Our History

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THE BEGINNING OF APPLIED HANDLING

In the first 6 years since returning from World War II, Robert Bacon and his new bride had five children and started Applied Handling, Inc. in 1952. The one-man manufacturer’s representative used a secretarial service on East Jefferson as his first base of operations, while establishing a reputation as a smart, honest businessman that people wanted to do business with. His motto was, “If you pay your bills promptly, people will want to do more business with you.”

During the war, shipments were made on pallets for the first time. When plants switched back to building automobiles, they needed to unload hundreds of trucks per day. This required fork trucks to be driven from the dock to the truck and dock levelers were the only way to handle the variety of truck heights. Bob made his mark by introducing equipment and partnering in developing one of the new designs in dock leveler equipment. The new designs improved the loading dock operations of Stroh Brewery, Ford Motor Company and General Motors. Additionally he sold conveying and storage & handling equipment that helped his customers increase their productivity in the post war boom years.

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APPLIED HANDLING KEEPS GROWING

By the mid 50’s Bob Bacon relocated to a small set of offices in midtown Detroit known as the Architects Building. It housed many architects who relied on Applied Handling for help in specifying equipment for new and renovated buildings. This was his first real office, as he had outgrown the answering service he used when he was a one man show. He had hired his first salesman and needed more room. In this period Applied Handling grew from 1 to 5 people.

The Rite-Hite Truck Actuated Leveler was an innovation Bob helped develop. It allowed operation of the dock leveler without the fork truck operator getting off his equipment, which was not being done at the time. It appealed to Stroh Brewery and the automotive companies. During this same time period, he also helped develop the dock shelter with the help of Frommelt Industries. Using a file cabinet and a side curtain sample mounted to a 2 x 4 he demonstrated this to Ford Motor Company and received the first order for what has now become an industry standard.

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APPLIED HANDLING KEEPS GROWING

10 years later the firm moved to Northwest Detroit as it grew to 8 people. (The building was new back then!)

This is when Bob’s sons, Bruce and Drew, were first introduced to the business. Bruce started going in on Saturdays to stamp sales brochures with the distributor information. Even though his accuracy of applying this stamp in the same place on each brochure was something Bob found lacking, Bruce loved going to the office and started building his interest in this business, which has lasted 55 years! Drew spent most of his efforts during this time beating the crap out of Bruce – No hard feelings or anything!

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THE NEXT GENERATION OF APPLIED HANDLING

By Applied Handling’s 21st year in 1973, the company had expanded into Saginaw and started construction of a new headquarters in Dearborn. At the time, Dearborn was barely developed but Bob Bacon carefully chose this location because it had easy access to 3 of the major metro Detroit freeways.

Applied’s new headquarters was one of the first projects completed in an area that was still mostly covered by woods. Employees would often see owls, foxes and other animals right across the street. Ford Land Development eventually developed commercial buildings all around Applied Handling’s headquarters. Today, it is one of a few buildings in the complex that is still privately owned.

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THE NEXT GENERATION OF APPLIED HANDLING

In 1977 Robert Bacon and his firm of 15 people were joined by his two sons Drew and Bruce and his son-in-law Jim Thiem. At this time, AHI primarily sold loading dock equipment including Levelers, Dok–Loks, Doors and Shelters. The company found a niche in being able to integrate individual products into one system with the use of a “combination” control panel. The result of that equipment integration was that docks became safer (radically reducing injuries) while all areas of the dock worked together smoothly. In 1982 the 3 men started an ownership transition program that allowed the senior Bacon to retire after 30 years of leadership in the industry.

Today

With the ownership transition complete, Bruce, Drew and Jim continued to grow the firm to 50 employees and introduce new products such as Trailer Restraints, Safe-T-Lip dock levelers and High Speed Doors.

AHI’s pioneering achievements in the integration of loading docks to just-in-time shipping and receiving operations earned it the coveted Value Added Award. This award is presented annually to the nation’s leading equipment distributor by Material Handling Engineering Magazine, the material handling industry’s premier trade publication.

As AHI continued to grow, other Michigan facilities were opened: Grand Rapids in 1992, Lincoln Park in 1994 and Flint in 2008 (which moved to Clio in 2011).

Jim Thiem retired in 2000 and in 2004 new partners Craig Sturgis, Ken Birecki and Scott Murray began the transition to a third generation of owners.

In addition to Applied Handling’s dominance in the loading dock industry where they remain a Tier One supplier to the automotive industry, AHI is increasingly becoming known for a broad capability in specialty doors. As an example, the company recently completed a 60’ x 40’ x 2’ concrete filled acoustical door for the Aerospace industry. (Below is the progression of the project.)

On July 21, 2012 Applied Handling celebrated its 60th year in business. “The future of AHI has never looked brighter”, said Bruce Bacon, President of Applied Handling.

"We've just had two of the best year in the hitory of the company and our opportunities seem to be never-ending. Our customers can continue to rely on us to bring the best service and most innovative products for years to come."