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What does your online shopping have to do with a proposed R&D facility in Henrietta? Forklifts.

Stock photo shows rooftops of new electric forklifts.
Adobe Stock
Stock photo shows rooftops of new electric forklifts.

Online shopping is fueling a boom in warehouse distribution centers and, indirectly, the forklift industry.

And one of the biggest makers of plug-in, electric forklifts – Toyota subsidiary The Raymond Corp. — is eying Eagle’s Landing business park on Jefferson Road in Henrietta for a $5.5 million development facility.

“If you think about ... all these folks that are doing all this online shopping, how does all that stuff get moved around and get ready to go on trucks?” said local energy consultant Matt Fronk. “Material handling in general is a big growth market.”

Worldwide, one in five retail purchases are expected to be made online this year, according to And the global forklift market, valued at $58.9 billion in 2022, is expected to grow to $84.5 billion by 2027.

Raymond is a century-old company based in Greene, NY, north of Binghamton. It is looking to establish a centralized development facility focused on energy sources for its forklifts and related equipment.

That includes lithium ion batteries, fuel cells, and hydrogen engines, records show.

“As decarbonization trends are driving electrification domestically, energy sources are of primary concern,” the company wrote in its application to Monroe County seeking a sales tax exemption.

What’s being proposed is a centralized, North American development facility focused on improving the efficiency of Raymond’s products while helping transition Toyota’s gas-powered forklifts as well.

New regulations are coming that will ban combustion engine forklifts in places like freezers, Fronk said.

Rochester is uniquely positioned to attract companies in the battery sector because of universities like Rochester Institute of Technology, with its Battery Prototyping Center. But also the workforce, manufacturing capabilities, and array of suppliers -- companies that can do machine work, injection molding or electronic boards — that built up around Eastman Kodak Co., Xerox, Bausch+Lomb, and other legacy companies here.

“That filmmaking process is also very applicable to making battery electrodes,” Fronk said, “lithium-ion battery electrodes or fuel cell membrane electrodes.”

The project is expected to create 40 jobs and be built in phases over the next couple of years.

In their application for tax breaks, company officials wrote that they’ve had limited success growing their operations in Greene because the workforce isn’t there.

The Henrietta location is in Eagle’s Landing business park off Jefferson Road. Raymond also is considering a site in Indiana that is near another Toyota facility but also Cummins, which historically has focused on diesel engines. The engine-maker has focused on electric and alternative fuels in recent years.

Brian Sharp is WXXI's investigations and enterprise editor. He also reports on business and development in the area. He has been covering Rochester since 2005. His journalism career spans nearly three decades.