Bobcat‘s time at the factory in Pontchâteau in France traces back to the early 20th century when Joseph Sambron transformed his school bench factory into a hub for farm machinery and bicycles.
Following Joseph’s retirement, his son Maurice ventured into mini-dumper production, selling over 50,000 units, and paving the way for the construction of the present-day Pontchâteau plant in 1963. The new facility specialised in off-road dumpers and forklifts.
Today, the factory is mostly known for the manufacturing of telescopic handlers, which commenced in the early 1980s under the Sambron brand and was then acquired by the Fayat Group. Under the new ownership, Sambron became FDI Sambron and introduced hydrostatic telescopic handlers. In 2000, FDI Sambron was acquired by American corporation, Ingersoll-Rand, which also owned the Bobcat brand. Consequently, FDI Sambron transformed into Bobcat France. In 2007, Bobcat was acquired by the South Korean group, Doosan, and continues to operate as part of the Doosan Bobcat EMEA company.
In 2023, the factory manufactured its 111,000th machine, with around 30,000 of them being telehandlers carrying the Bobcat logo and white and orange colour scheme.
Philippe Marescot, Pontchâteau factory manager at Doosan Bobcat EMEA, said: “Our current telehandler line-up consists of 14 models in five platforms, with key markets in agriculture, construction and rental. Managing such a comprehensive portfolio is only possible thanks to our experienced engineering team, which is running all the European operations and contributing to global telehandler development activities. The majority of our production, over 80%, is targeted for export.”
Employment has seen significant growth , with the workforce more than doubling to 420 employees in the last 10 years. The Mayor of Pontchâteau, Danielle Cornet, recognised the factory’s significance as a major regional employer, with over 50% of employees residing within a 20 km radius, and offering diverse job opportunities ranging from manufacturing to executive roles, administration and Research & Development.
“Over the past decade, significant investments, amounting to approximately 30 million EUR, have been made in human resources, research and development and facility enhancements. These structural investments have strengthened the Pontchâteau factory’s capacity to meet market demands and maintain a growth trajectory aligned with market needs,” Mr Marescot concluded.