Matthew West remembers being home from college and telling his father and grandfather definitively that he didn’t want to earn a living fixing forklifts like they did. Fast forward almost a decade, and West is running his family’s forklift dealership, leading some residents of Goldsboro, NC, to refer to him as “the forklift guy” when they see him around town.
“I live and breathe material handling and forklifts,” West said. “This is what I’m meant to do.”
West, 28, took an interesting route to become operations and sales manager for WestLift, a company formed in 2009 by his grandfather and father, both longtime forklift service technicians. In 2010, he was a psychology major at Liberty University, but he would soon change majors and earn his certification as an industrial electrician through a dual-enrollment program with Virginia Technical Institute.
West then left school to become an industrial maintenance mechanic and electrician at a soda bottling plant, and to marry his college sweetheart and start a family. Meanwhile, WestLift was a family business on the rise. What started as a small repair shop would become a 20,000-square-foot warehouse selling new and used forklifts, pallet jacks, racking and other material-handling equipment and servicing it.
In 2014, West joined the family business as a service technician, and he later would have roles in dispatching, managing parts, customer service and sales before becoming operations and sales manager.
WestLift truly is a family business, employing his grandfather, father, wife, stepmom, sister, two brothers and an aunt. The only employee who isn’t a relative is a young technician who also comes to the family events.
“We have a good family dynamic,” West said. “We all get along well. We all come in and do our best, and you can actually see the company growing little bit by little bit. But if you slack off one day and miss your sales figure, you can see that too.