One of the biggest Eastern European brands during Soviet times was Podem. Back in its peak between 1980 and 1990, Podem produced 90,000 electric wire rope hoists per year, for Eastern bloc countries. It is claimed that 1,800,000 Podem wire rope hoists have been sold – even assuming half are no longer working, the Bulgaria-based company has a large installed base.

After privatisation, the company restructured, laid off staff and sold off infrastructure. In February 2002 Podemcrane AD, owned by industrial group Uneeda Industies, assumed the hoist production business in Gabrovo, Bulgaria.

‘Now the management is trying to capitalize on the formally developed markets and to develop its own distribution in each industrial country,’ says chairman of the board Georgi Stoimenov. He says the company sold 3,600 electric rope hoists in 2003.

The company’s main markets now are Italy, Spain, Russia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. 95% of the company’s sales are export, through a network of dealers.

70% of the company’s sales are its M-series electric wire rope hoists. There are four varieties – the M stationery hoist (up to 50t capacity as standard), M EN with monorail trolley (up to 12.5t capacity), M EK low-headroom monorail trolley (up to 16t capacity) and M ED hoist with double-rail trolley (up to 32t capacity). Frequency-controlled speed and remote controls are optional.

M- and MT-series hoists are CE marked by Tuev Rheinland. The company also produces small cranes, end trucks, monorails, trolleys, winches and geared motors.

In 2003 Podem entered joint venture with German motor producer to produce travelling and lifting motors.


Following the splitting of Yugoslavia a decade ago, bridge crane manufacturer Insem-Atmos opened for business in newly-independent Slovenia.

The company was formed from three former employees of Yugoslavian brand Atmos, itself a victim of the war. Most of its customers were now in different countries – Serbia, The 40-year old Slovenian company was a victim of the war 80% of its customer base were now on the other side of international borders in newly-formed Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Macedonia.

The new company began servicing the old Atmos cranes, and then moved into manufacture, and now makes 80 bridge, gantry and jib cranes a year, as well as, oddly, bitumen process equipment. Production runs from capacities of 125kg to 35t, with most common cranes between 3.2-5t capacity and spans from 10-15m.

90% of production is for Slovenia, according to Andrej Oblak. The country officially joined the European Union this year. ‘Our competition are most of the European manufacturers as they have a local offices or representatives in Slovenia (Stahl, Abus, Demag, SWF, Kone, Omis and others) and joining the EU will only make more competition not less. The Italians are really aggressive with prices,’ he adds. ‘The upgrade to CE standards was not so difficult as it was done in the last few years step by step.’

What he says is difficult is the other 10% of the company’s business, to ex-Yugoslavia, which still require the company to supply engineering drawings with the crane. ‘While all this is necessary to produce a crane, giving it to the customers is another matter – the customer get everything he need to build another crane by himself or when something need to be replaced he can do it himself and doesn’t need to call us to replace it. This in the end means we lose some