In the 18th and early 19th centuries, very few large scale industries existed. Most companies and businesses were small ventures, and many of them only employed fewer than a dozen employees. Many historians agree that these businesses were small because contemporary technology was so primitive that few of these businesses could afford to serve more than a handful of clients. How could they hope to produce large quantities of product?
After the industrial revolution (which occurred during the mid 19th century) introduced many modern technologies into the marketplace, many of these businesses started to expand. They started to produce more products. They started to serve more customers. They started to hire more employees.
This rapid expansion of their operations meant that many of these businesses now needed to rent or purchase large warehouses in which they could store their unsold products. Between 1850 and 1950, millions of companies started to purchase or rent large warehouses. They also started to purchase warehouse racks, teardrop pallet racking and shelving, and other forms of industrial shelving. These businesses believed that these shelving systems helped them to organize their warehouses.
The most popular form of industrial shelving, however, proved to be the cantilever racks. Many managers who worked in these warehouses fell in love with cantilever racks during the industrial revolution because it was cheap: cantilever racks often cost far less than other forms of industrial shelving. Cantilever racks were also very sturdy: most could hold more than 1000 pounds of heavy materials. Cantilever racks were also easy to transport from one warehouse to another: unlike other forms of industrial shelving, it is very easy to deconstruct and reassemble cantilever racks.
For all of these reasons, cantilever racks are extremely popular among managers who work in warehouses. Some of these managers estimate that cantilever racks save them millions of dollars every year.