Many of our customers have asked how the city of Salinas, California became a famous place for aviation ground support equipment. In addition to being well known as the birthplace of novelist Steinbeck, Salinas is famous for providing the United States with its best farm products. The agricultural industry played an important part in Cochran-Lantis’ history: fresh produce was loaded onto trucks using conveyor belt machines manufactured by our former factory in Salinas.

Rumor has it that on a sunny Californian weekend, an employee of a very famous airline located in San Francisco at that time, was cruising over the countryside of Salinas and got the idea to use these conveyor belt machines to load baggage into airplanes. The history of the ‘Belt Loader’ had begun.

Joe Cochrane created Cochran Equipment in 1956 to build the first belt loaders specifically designed for airport use. Cochran Equipment also manufactured catering trucks. In 1966, Cochran designed its first loader for the new B-747. Facing an increase in business due to the Jumbo aircraft revolution, Joe Cochrane decided to look for financial support to help develop his company.

Following years of exceptional growth worldwide, the company was sold to the AMSTAR group in 1971, and again shortly after to WESTERN GEAR Corporation, where it was renamed “COCHRAN WESTERN”. Over the next 12 years, the company grew significantly and produced many new equipment types.

In 1975 the 808 loader was designed with the famous Flat Top Chains, which significantly improved transfer system reliability.

The first 818 was produced in 1979, with the original Grasshopper lifting device that allowed the clear deck feature . This is still a major feature in TLD loaders. The 828 was the first loader to be designed with a wide option for B-767.

In 1980, Mr. Bing Lantis was appointed by Western Gear as General Manager of COCHRAN WESTERN. After the Western Gear Group was sold, COCHRAN WESTERN went up for sale and was purchased by Bing Lantis in 1983. As a result the company name was changed to The Lantis Corporation in 1984.

After several successful years of leadership in the loader market the LANTIS Corporation was acquired by TLD in 1992, and changed its name to TLD LANTIS.

TLD placed their focus on the global loader market and manufacturing of transporters and belt loaders ceased. The new Lantis 828 loader was introduced onto the market in 1995. It featured the combined benefits of flat top chains, the grasshopper lifting device, new multi-directional wheels and fully proportional hydraulic controls.

The Lantis 929 series loaders (33,000lbs/15t and 44,000lbs/20t main deck loader) were introduced to the market in 1996 followed by the Lantis 121 (66,000lbs/30t) in 1998.

At the beginning of 2002, TLD decided to transfer loader production to a new and much larger facility located in Sherbrooke, Canada.

TLD has kept a presence in Salinas with a TLD Spare parts hub and service center.

The next time you have a salad, think about Cochran belt loaders loading lettuce onto trucks and TLD cargo loaders loading and unloading lettuce from aircrafts all around the world !

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