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LiftGator Makes Light Work of Loading Items Into Pickup Truck

What started as a class project for Cal Poly students Justin Russo and Marty Affentranger turned into a real-world product for farmers. 

Both men needed a way to get heavy tools into trucks easily. “I didn’t want to have to choose between altering my truck or saving my back,” recalls Russo. 

During their final year at the college, the two mechanical engineering majors worked to design and develop a device that would solve the problem many farmers encounter on the farm.

Starting out in the Affentranger family dairy barn located in Bakersfield, California, with just a few thousand dollars, their work developed into the LiftGator. 

“Rather than cutting the bumper off the truck and permanently welding a lift gate in place, LiftGator rolls up to the back of the truck and slides into the hitch receiver,” explains Russo.

Fitting onto almost all pickup, service body, and flatbed trucks, it attaches in less than three minutes whenever needed, and it’s easily removed when it’s not.

“Stabilizers will drop to the ground to support the gate,” he says. “The 48-inch aluminum platform unfolds and is raised and lowered with the push of a button.”

From a Two- to a One-Person Job

Keith Peranick, a crop adviser for Watson Ag Services near Fresno, California, discovered LiftGator at the 2014 World Ag Expo.

The LiftGator is available in two models: XTR and LTE. (See “LiftGator Models” for specifications on each.) Peranick has had the opportunity to use the XTR model.

“The LiftGator XTR helps me efficiently transport 55-gallon fertilizer drums,” he says. “Previously, if a forklift wasn’t available, we would have to roll a drum off the back of a truck. It took two people to lift those 800- to 1,000-pound drums.”

It has saved not only time but also money by reducing unloading from a two-person job down to a one-person job.

“I also like the XTR because of its internal battery system; it runs off my tow hitch. If a truck doesn’t have a pin hitch available, LiftGator powers itself,” Peranick says.  

Aside from agriculture, LiftGator is sold across a wide range of other industries including construction, mechanics, and delivery services. Available nationwide, over 50 units were built and sold in the first year.

“We build each lift gate in a manufacturing facility in Atascadero, California. We perform the cutting, machining, and welding in-house. Quality is our highest priority; manufacturing the product in-house makes this possible,” Russo says. “It is rewarding to create local jobs and to work with talented people. It is truly an American-made product.”

LiftGator Models

The LiftGator is available in two kits, which include a truck wiring kit, 48-inch folding aluminum platform, installation wheels, and a two-year warranty.


  • 1,200-pound capacity
  • Self-contained battery system
  • Over 30 lifts from a single charge
  • Easily recharged from a truck’s seven-pin trailer connector or a 100-volt wall outlet
  • $2,695


  • 800-pound capacity
  • Powered by a quick connect to the truck battery
  • $2,195 

Learn More

LiftGator | (877) 791-2332 |

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