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Brammo to make forklift batteries for Raymond Corp.

TALENT — Craig Bramscher has a history of building fast things, such as sports cars and electric motorcycles.

When it comes to his present lithium-ion battery development, however, the pace is slower — especially for capital investment.

Brammo Inc. and Raymond Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota, of Greene, N.Y., announced a deal to advance battery technology for electric forklifts.

Raymond-built forklifts, Bramscher said, are both unnoticed and ubiquitous.

"Once I started looking around, I couldn't believe how many trucks had 'Raymond' on them," Bramscher said. "If you go in Walmart and see a red forklift running around, those are Raymond forklifts."

Many of the forklifts operate in large warehouses, places that need the kind of power Brammo products have demonstrated in other arenas.

"It's an ideal application of our technology," Bramscher said. "We're essentially replacing the lead acid batteries used in warehouses that are messy and relatively dangerous."

Bramscher declined to spell out financial arrangements, but indicated it's a another step in the right direction.

"This moves the company down the path toward profitability and allows us to become a bigger and better supplier to many other and new companies," Bramscher said.

It's taken patience to get this far and will require more before Brammo can transition from a research-and-development start-up firm to manufacturer.

Last April, Bramscher said the firm had $58 million worth of signed contracts and potential for far more, enabling company employment to surpass 100 in 2017.

"It's always challenging to raise capital," he said. "But the demand has never been so well demonstrated. Everything is going to lithium or mobile energy storage — from laptops to trucks and buses."

Bramscher has narrowed the field down to a half-dozen categories to pursue: motorcycles, snowblowers, lawnmowers, utility vehicles (such as a Polaris Ranger), quadricycles (similar to Smart cars, topping out at 40 mph), baggage handling vehicles, along with delivery trucks and buses.

"We're perfectly suited to develop things with a lot of energy stuck in a small spot," he said.

Bramscher said engineering and pilot production programs for customers continue in the spacious former Walmart building. Many customers are located east of the Mississippi River, which may require production in another state.

"We definitely plan to ramp up production here," Bramscher said. "As soon as we get the working capital we need, we should be able to scale up quite nicely, and we may well need to do it on the East Coast, as well."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.

Cory Murray, a battery technician, adds firmware to a circuit board at Brammo in Talent last spring. Mail Tribune file photo