Iowa firm builds unique power lift

Leave it to the Swiss. This past year, a firm called Stellar Industries, Inc., based in Garner, Iowa, teamed up with a company named Rinspeed, Inc., Zumikon, Switzerland, to market the patented X-Tra-Lift, an unusual piece of equipment that offers a new way to load and unload machines from a pickup truck.
From the outside of the truck, the X-Tra-Lift looks like a standard rollbar when in place. However, operating an internally mounted switch, or an optional wireless remote, the eight-foot, 48-inch-wide carrier can be electronically or hydraulically manipulated to various heights and transfer up to 1,320 lbs.
Perhaps best known for its Volkswagen, Porsche and Mercedes tuning, privately held Rinspeed produces a wide variety of automotive accessories, customized cars, conversions, and deals in custom fabrication, prototypes, and Formula 1 and event consulting. Led by Frank M. Rinderknecht, founder and CEO, it employs approximately eight full-time and three part-time workers, and serves everyone from manufacturers to end-users.
Rinspeed introduced the Rinspeed X-Trem, a pickup truck concept outfitted with X-Tra-Lift, in 1999. One year later, the company showed the X-Tra-Lift on another concept, a 1950s hot-rod pickup concept called the Rinspeed Tatooo.
While the vehicles the X-Tra-Lift was housed in may have been novelties, built to show design possibilities, the lift system itself was a product Rinspeed knew could be successful in the U.S., the world’s largest manufacturer and consumer of pickup trucks. Unfamiliar with the U.S. market for such product, Rinspeed teamed with Stellar.
Founded in 1990 as a specialist in the production of products for service trucks, Stellar shed the X-Tra-Lift’s “concept” nature and tweaked its design to suit the various needs of U.S. consumers.
Stellar’s Tom Formanek says the product is now ready to be produced en mass for Ford, Dodge and General Motors trucks. Currently available for 6.5-foot and eight-foot beds, the device is designed to be mated with trucks that are 1/2-ton or larger. The carrier is detachable from the lifting system and completely removable.
“It’s really a very easy system to install,” Formanek told Powersports Business. “It takes about six to eight hours on average, but is technically quite straight-forward.” He says the X-Tra-Lift retails for $4,395 and comes completely assembled.
Curtis Brumm, a Stellar dealer, demonstrated the X-Tra-Lift for Powersports Business, hoisting a Polaris Sportsman 700 to bed effortlessly in a matter of seconds. “ATVs, snowmobiles, motorcycles, refrigerators, personal watercraft, the applications are virtually unlimited,” he said.

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