Our History

A Snorkel fire truck advert from 1958
The first Snorkel EWP – TB42 boom lift
An advertisement showing the first full-line Snorkel product range following the acquisition of Economy Engineering
Don Ahern (centre) – the current owner of Snorkel, with Art Moore (right) – the original founder of Snorkel, and Al Havlin (left) a previous owner of Snorkel

Snorkel 60th Anniversary

Founded in 2016, Ahern Chile draws upon the strong heritage of the brands it represents – Snorkel and Xtreme Manufacturing.

Snorkel was founded in 1959 in the United States of America, as a fire equipment company which developed an aerial work platform (AWP) specifically designed for firefighting and rescue work.

These products set the standard for aerial firefighting equipment, which were proven for reliability and versatility, and created the foundations for the aerial work platform market as we know it today. Snorkel was one of the founding members of the global AWP industry.

A brief history of Snorkel, Xtreme Manufacturing & Ahern Chile:

Snorkel was founded by Art Moore in the USA, and remained a privately-owned business until 1971.

Snorkel was sold to ATO Inc., which later became Figgie International which was a Fortune 500 Company.

Snorkel entered the construction/industrial market with the first Telescopic boom type machine used to lift persons to height. These machines were engineered from the technology used in the firefighting product range using state of the art hydraulic and electrical systems and an aluminum telescoping boom.

The company capitalized on an opportunity to complement its already successful boom range with the acquisition of Economy Engineering – a leading manufacturer of self-propelled scissor lifts and ground entry vertical lift work platforms.

The company then expanded Snorkel to include manufacturing facilities in Levin, New Zealand and sales and service offices in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. The company was beginning to develop a more “global” manufacturing footprint. The acquisition provided a broader range including the trailer mounted machines and offered a quality distribution of the complete product line in Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

Snorkel became part of OmniQuip International Inc. who decided to sell the fire and rescue apparatus product lines, and focus on the AWP division. The fire and rescue product line was sold in 1998 to American LaFrance, a subsidiary of Freightliner.

Snorkel was purchased from OmniQuip by a group of investors known as the Elwood Holdings LLC headed by Al Havlin. They re-opened their plant in Elwood, Kansas after it had been shut down previously that year.

Xtreme Manufacturing LLC is formed by Don Ahern in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA to develop his own line of rough terrain telehandlers that would improve upon the design flaws of telehandlers available at the time.

UK-based The Tanfield Group Plc purchased Snorkel in 2007 from Elwood Holdings LLC, and created a global distribution network for the AWPs.

The Tanfield Group introduces new branding for Snorkel, creating a consistent global brand and product line.

Xtreme Manufacturing LLC acquired the Snorkel business in 2013, purchasing 51% of the company from Tanfield Group Plc. The investment from the acquisition was used to boost the manufacturing process and spare parts inventory, providing the business with improved new equipment availability and aftermarket service capability.

Ahern International, owned by Don Ahern, rebrands the Snorkel Australia and Snorkel Japan operations as Ahern Australia and Ahern Japan respectively, offering both sales and service of Snorkel and Xtreme equipment.

Ahern Chile is formed, as part of the Ahern International division, providing Latin America-based sales and service for Snorkel lifts and Xtreme Manufacturing telehandlers.

Snorkel celebrated 60 years of innovation, since it was founded by the late Art Moore in 1959.