TLD: From Silkweaving to GSE

Starting as a silk weaving business, TLD has now become a worldwide global leader in the airport ground support equipment market.

The TLD Group (TLD used to mean Teleflex Lionel Dupont) was ushered during the 19th Century in France. Starting as a silk weaving business, TLD has now become a worldwide global leader in the airport ground support equipment market.


TLD’s origins began in 1897 in a silk weaving workshop in Lyon, France—the Mulatier et Dupont company. Slowly, the silk weaving business turned into a steel manufacturer. In 1930, Lionel Dupont became the president of the company and created strong links with Compagnie Générale d’Electricité who provided TLD with a steel manufacturing business. This mutual cooperation lasted more than 20 years.


The company changed its name to Tissmétal Lionel-Dupont in 1951. During this period the company was traded on the Paris Stock Exchange. An expansion of company activities introduced it to greater diversified markets, especially in the newer technological markets of electro-mechanical industry, automated handling systems, synthetic fibers, industrial filtration and aeronautical equipment. The company sold its metal manufacturing business in 1985 and was renamed Téléflex Lionel-Dupont.

The GSE industry becomes fragmented

GSE was born and independent companies ACE and TRACMA were created in 1953 and COCHRANE (LANTIS) was created in 1956. These three companies had 50 years’ experience and were later integrated in the TLD Group.

In the early ’80s ACE had invented the jet starter, TRACMA the towbarless tractors and in 1956 LANTIS invented the belt loader when an engineer from a well-known airline engineering group based in California had an idea taken from a Cochrane Farm lettuce-loading machine. ALBRET, DEVTEC and ERMA were created in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

The love story between TLD and GSE

In 1990, TLD had a subsidiary, Teleflex Systems, which specialized in fixed baggage handling installations for airport buildings. When bankers presented the ALBRET and TRACMA companies to the chairman of the board of TLD, he became very excited about synergies that could be developed with Teleflex systems in the growing market of aviation support. This is how TRACMA and ALBRET were purchased by TLD.

Very soon, TLD realized that synergies between airport fixed installations and airport GSE were small due to the different natures of the two businesses. Therefore, the chairman of TLD, under the proactive vision of the industrial director of the group, decided to develop a unique strategy for airport GSE.

Two years of acquisitions

In 1990, as you already know, TRACMA (baggage tractors and aircraft tractors) and ALBRET (passengers stairs and lavatory and water trucks) had already been purchased by TLD. TRACMA and ALBRET were famous brands but they were mainly focusing their efforts on French-speaking countries where they held a near-monopolistic position.

In 1991, TLD purchased ERMA Co., which had a complementary line of products including belt loaders, transporters and catering trucks. ERMA was a small company but was growing quickly. It offered a very experienced and energetic team and was oriented toward exportation.

After this acquisition, TLD was a strong European player in GSE but had no real presence in the American and Far Eastern markets. To expand into these markets, in late 1991, TLD purchased DEVTEC Corp. and its two subsidiaries, Accessory, Controls and Equipment (ACE) and DEVTEC Co. (Hong Kong).

At this point in time, TLD had a foundation of a worldwide service and sales network and a nearly complete line of products. However, TLD was still weak in the loader business. The negotiations with the owner of the LANTIS Corp. were lengthy, but at the end of 1992, TLD took control of the company.

The main acquisitions were done. TLD now had the right tools to become a leading global supplier of GSE.

Structure and Organization
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