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Distributors And Manufacturers Join Forces For Sales Success

While Brad and Angelina might get the celebrity, the distributormanufacturer relationshipin material handling is more important to the way the world works. Without manufacturers, distributors would have no product to sell. Without distributors, manufacturers would have no local service presence. Both sides need the other.

That’s why we’re dedicating the following pages to saluting companies who are taking advantage of those powerful relationships. In these Sales Success Stories, distributors and manufacturers work together to provide solutions for customers. It may be quick installation, providing demo equipment, making custom products or simply paying attention to detail. Read on to learn what these “Power Couples” are doing to complement each other and their customers.

To view a particular company, click their name below, or simply scroll down through the article.
Abel Womack
Advanced Equipment Company
Advanced Handling Systems
A & K Equipment Company
Apex Material Handling Corp.
Arnold Machinery
Atlantic Handling Systems
Atlas Toyota Material Handling
Bastian Material Handling
Dougherty Equipment Company
Florida Lift Systems
FloStor Engineering
Fred Hill and Son Company
Highlander Equipment Company
Hy-Tek Material Handling
Lift Solutions
MH Equipment Company
Nelson Equipment Company.
Papé Material Handling
Portman Equipment Company
Raymond of New Jersey
Southeast Industrial Equipment
Vargo Material Handling
Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp.

Abel Womack Goes Global

You never know where a lead is going to come from. Patrick Mastrola, director of integrated systems for Abel Womack (Lawrence, MA), was finishing up a major installation for an American customer in Holland when his supplier for that project mentioned his Belgian customer who was doing a similar project in Kansas. “It was a little crazy,” Mastrola says. “In my 30 years, I’ve never run across a situation like that before.”

MANUFACTURER: Automotion, Hytrol Conveyor Company, Speedrack, Phoenix Workstations, Remstar
SUMMARY: Job lead from overseas customer results in domestic warehouse expansion.

The customer in Kansas turned out to be Systems Material Handling (SMH), a supplier of forklift parts and accessories, whose parent company is based in Belgium. SMH was responding to three years of consistent growth by constructing a new 225,000 sq. ft. manufacturing and distribution center.

After completing the first phase of the project in January 2006, Mastrola and his team began work on phase two of the project, which included the addition of a second-level pick module and a 100,000 sq. ft. building expansion. “We’re double decking over the existing zone-routing system and shelving system to use the cube in the facility and then to bring on a warehouse management system that coordinates the facility and ties everything together,” Mastrola explains.

Over 3,500 linear feet of Automotion and Hytrol conveyor highlight the installation for a forklift parts supplier.

Over 3,500 linear feet of Automotion and Hytrol conveyor highlight the installation for a forklift parts supplier.

Abel Womack Vice President of Sales Mike Petinge integrated all the RadioBeacon software to coordinate the whole project, which features approximately 3,500 linear feet of conveyor from Hytrol Conveyor Company and Automotion. Speedrack provided 40 bays of pushback pallet rack containing more than 1,000 pallet positions, as well as 250 bays of wide-span shelving with a mezzanine over it. Fifty workstations from Phoenix Workstations and Remstar horizontal carousels completed the installation.

The new system more efficiently and accurately handles SMH’s diverse customer requirements. The system is capable of handling several different types of parts as well as several value-added functions. Upon receipt, all parts are put through various quality assurance/testing procedures before they are released to the floor.

Mastrola credits all the suppliers with getting the multimillion dollar project completed on time. “It was a large project, and keeping everyone on the same page was critical,” he says. “Our manufacturers really stepped up on this project.”

Advanced Equipment Zaps the Generation Gap

During 2006, Hytrol Conveyor Company notified its distributors and end-users that its Generation 1 EZLogic technology would no longer be available or supported after December 31 because certain electronic components are no longer manufactured. Following this announcement, the challenge for many Hytrol Generation 1 EZLogic customers was to upgrade the existing conveyors and systems in service with a quick method of changeover, while retaining or enhancing the existing accumulation and communication functionality.

DISTRIBUTOR: Advanced Equipment Company
MANUFACTURER: Hytrol Conveyor Company
SUMMARY: Simultaneous upgrade of 19 conveyors performed on limited schedule with no hiccups.

This was the exact dilemma faced by Phillips Van Heusen, a clothing distributor based in Jonesville, North Carolina. The company’s original Hytrol system, installed in late 1999, featured approximately 350 zones of Hytrol Generation 1 EZLogic control system within 19 conveyors.

Advanced Equipment Company (Charlotte, NC) Sales Engineer Scott Hartman examined each of the 19 conveyors, noting lengths, number of accumulation zones, output functionality to the host controller, electrical connections, and any special installation modifications that were made during the original installation. All of these details were then transferred to Clay Crain in Hytrol’s systems customer service for comparison against original production reports. Crain and the rest of the Hytrol Systems Group assisted in determining component selection, project pricing and package-marking procedure to match the existing conveyor system and implementation schedule.

Over 3,500 linear feet of Automotion and Hytrol conveyor highlight the installation for a forklift parts supplier.

Over 3,500 linear feet of Automotion and Hytrol conveyor highlight the installation for a forklift parts supplier.

The key to the project was to implement the equipment changeover during non-production time. Phillips Van Heusen’s shipment output is critical to its business, so Advanced Equipment was not allowed to work during any part of the normal work schedules. Advanced Equipment worked from 3:00 Friday afternoon to 7:00 Monday morning, dividing the implementation into five phases to ensure that each new part of the system would be up and running by Monday morning.

Hytrol’s challenge was to deliver components that were completely interchangeable from both a mechanical and a system functionality standpoint. All the components were delivered for easy change-out and the new technology allowed Advanced Equipment to duplicate the functionality with very few changes to wiring and no controller changes.

The $180,000 project was delivered by Hytrol in four weeks. Combined with Advanced Equipment’s five-weekend implementation schedule, the project was seamless to the customer. Hytrol and Advanced Equipment not only accomplished a pain-free conversion, but also provided the customer with extended flexibility for future system modifications or changes.

AHS Makes It Happen

GSI Commerce specializes in online order fulfillment for a host of well-known clients, and the equipment in its warehouses sorts a variety of items, from electronics to bobblehead dolls to t-shirts. Peak season is October to December as people begin doing more online shopping for the holidays. During the peak season, GSI’s Louisville, Kentucky, facility processes about 120,000 units per day. Each year at peak season, the company would add bodies to facilitate the increased activity, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in recruiting costs alone. Obviously, this was not an ideal situation, and the company wanted greater efficiency in its new 540,000 sq. ft. facility in Ridgewood, Kentucky.

The picking facility for an e-retailer includes nearly three miles of TGW-ERMANCO conveyor.

The picking facility for an e-retailer includes nearly three miles of TGW-ERMANCO conveyor.

Enter Steve Schwietert, key account manager at Advanced Handling Systems (Cincinnati, OH), and other AHS team members who have a longstanding relationship with GSI’s vice president of operations, Paul Chisholm. “We spoke with Paul about ways to increase productivity while minimizing the need for increased headcount,” Schwietert explains. “We needed to design a system that would increase overall productivity and mitigate the need to add seasonal associates during the peak season.”

Initial discussion began in March 2006. Schwietert and his team—Project Manager Randy Whitaker and Industrial Engineer Andrew Vickery—worked to come up with a solution. “In a different facility, the customer picked using a batch cart. An associate walked through the racking system filling orders,” Schwietert says. “The new facility uses a true batch-and-sort methodology, where a picker goes into a zone, fills totes full of product and conveys them to a unit sorter to be sorted out into customer orders.” The final design was approved in June 2006, and manufacturing began in September 2006.

DISTRIBUTOR: Advanced Handling Systems Inc.
SUMMARY: Solution with more than 450,000 picking locations helps customer eliminate need for seasonal help.

“We solicited multiple manufacturers to bid on the proposed solution, ultimately choosing TGW-ERMANCO for a host of reasons, including product quality, warranty and the ability to handle small cartons,” Schwietert says.

Installation began in January 2007, with the system going live in June. “We utilized nearly every type of conveyor that TGW-ERMANCO makes,” Schwietert says. All told, the system features nearly three miles of TGW-ERMANCO conveyor and a tilt-tray sorter with 1,200 sort locations. There are more than 450,000 picking locations with a four-level pick model structure. The installed solution is on its way to reducing headcount with an expected payback of less than two years.


“Stop selling. Start helping.”
— Zig Ziglar


Customer Cold Spell Broken by A & K Equipment

For A & K Equipment Company (Maple Grove, MN) Sales Manager Jerry Fredrickson, one phone call was proof that no one is immune to winter weather. The caller was Paul Nelson of Arctic Cat, one of the largest snowmobile manufacturers in the world, who contacted Fredrickson in March with a chilly dilemma. Arctic Cat’s main manufacturing facility in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, needed to be airtight, and 15 drafty docking bays were putting the freeze on the snowmobile maker’s operations. “Cold air was infiltrating the building through their dock levelers during the cold winter months,” Fredrickson says. “Imagine a building when it’s 20 below outside and there’s a crack in the window. This was like having 15 open windows.”

DISTRIBUTOR: A & K Equipment Company, Inc.
MANUFACTURER: Pentalift Equipment Corporation
SUMMARY: Delivery of 15 dock pits occurs on schedule despite quick turnaround over a holiday.

Nelson already had a solution in mind when he called. All 15 dock pits would be filled in to block the flow of cold air, and the current levelers would be replaced with edge-of-dock models manufactured by Pentalift. “They pretty much knew exactly what they wanted,” Fredrickson says, but rather than rushing to close the deal, he made sure his customer understood exactly what he was getting into.

Installing edge-of-dock levelers, he told Nelson, meant that trucks other than semis would have a more difficult time accessing the facility, and new dock seals would need to be installed as well. “You have to pay attention to the customer’s needs,” Frederickson explains. “Some salespeople would just sell it, and the conversation about the dock seal would never occur. Even if the customer says, ‘Yeah, I know that,’ you should still have the conversation.”

After discussing all the issues, both sides agreed that edge-of-dock levelers were the right solution to Arctic Cat’s problem. The company sent Fredrickson a purchase order for 15 EDML7225 mechanical edge of dock levelers on June 12, for a total sale of about $13,000. Each leveler spans 27.5 inches, is 72 inches wide and has a capacity of 25,000 pounds.

There was a catch, however. Arctic Cat asked for seven of the levelers to be delivered on or around July 4, leaving less than a month for Pentalift to fill that part of the order. Frederickson worked with Pentalift’s Nancy Cutting, who helped ensure that all 15 levelers arrived the day after Independence Day, and Arctic Cat’s loading docks were up and running before the end of the week. “They had production occurring in the area, and needed to be able to load trucks by Monday,” Fredrickson explains.

When Jack Frost takes hold of Thief River Falls this winter, Arctic Cat’s main manufacturing facility is sure to stay warm, thanks to A & K Equipment and Pentalift.

Apex Achieves Optimum Performance

Apex Material Handling Corp. of IL (West Chicago, IL) shared the responsibility of servicing the lift truck fleet of Optimum Nutrition, a manufacturer of fitness supplements, with a competing truck line. When the customer decided to award the entire service contract to the company that sold them their next lift truck, Apex decided it was time to show its muscle.

DISTRIBUTOR: Apex Material Handling Corp. of IL
MANUFACTURER: Doosan Infracore America
SUMMARY: Customer tests product in harsh environment, leading to a sale of six trucks.

“This is not a customer that is easy on their lift trucks,” says President John Paul Turcich. “It’s a multi-shift operation, and their products involve a lot of wheat protein and other powders that get into the air, which is not particularly good for motors.”

But Greg Halmagyi, Apex territory manager, and Bill Pickering, general manager of sales and service support at Doosan Infracore America, knew just what the customer needed. Doosan was just coming out with its Pro-5 Series of lift trucks, and Apex had received a prototype BC25S-5 four-wheel electric truck. In December 2006, they arranged to put the unit in the customer’s facility, where it was tested for several months.

By the end of the demo period, the Doosan lift truck had proved its mettle: Even in the harsh environment, the truck performed like a champion. As a result, Apex was able to secure a six-truck order, including one BC25S-5 four-wheel unit and five B15T-5 three-wheel units, which were shipped in April 2007 for a sale totaling over $150,000.

“Doosan is a relative unknown when it comes to electric units, so it was a matter of proving the AC technology to the customer,” explains Turcich. “But we lead with service and develop good relationships with our customers, so the trust we had built with this customer was able to overcome any resistance they had to a forklift manufacturer with less name recognition. Now the trucks are performing well and everybody’s happy.”

Which just goes to show that strength doesn’t always exhibit itself in weights lifted—in this case, it was strong relationships with manufacturer and customer that helped Apex Material Handling Corp. win the day.

Ramping It Up with Arnold Machinery

A paper recycler based in Salt Lake City, Utah, had a unique application, and their current forklift provider wasn’t performing as well as it had in the past. That was enough of an opening for Gary Millerberg, territory manager at Arnold Machinery Company (Salt Lake City, UT).

DISTRIBUTOR: Arnold Machinery Company
MANUFACTURER: Hyster Company
SUMMARY: Special ramp application requires manufacturer and distributor to re-engineer forklift engines for more horsepower.

The recycler uses a flatbed to retrieve baled paper from customer sites. On the front end of the trailer is a compartment to hold a forklift. “They take their own forklift to the customer so that they’re not borrowing customers’ equipment to do their work,” Millerberg explains. To load the forklift onto the flatbed, the trailer is placed next to a ramp so that the lift truck can be driven into the compartment. The ramp is difficult for operators to negotiate because it is very short and steep and must be approached slowly for safety reasons.

Taking all these considerations into account, Millerberg demonstrated a Hyster model 30FT truck. The first time, “it failed miserably,” Millerberg says. “We were unable to negotiate the ramp because the horsepower and gear ratio weren’t providing enough power.” Millerberg talked to Kerry Hockemeyer, regional sales manager at Hyster Company, and some engineers to try to modify the truck’s specifications. “It helped a bit, but it was still not sufficient to get that forklift loaded onto the trailer.”

A re-engineered engine in this Hyster 30FT truck helps a customer navigate a short, steep incline at its facility.

A re-engineered engine in this Hyster 30FT truck helps a customer navigate a short, steep incline at its facility.

Millerberg went back to the engineers, and they came up with a gear reduction system that proved successful. “We took our two-speed axle configuration and made it low gear in that truck, which dropped the gear ratio to the point where it would transverse the ramp with no problem,” says Millerberg. This time, after two months of modifications, the demo worked smoothly.

The customer, pleased with the persistence of Millerberg and Hyster, purchased two of the $23,000 trucks in the spring and three more during the summer. Millerberg expects the customer to eventually replace all 58 of its units throughout five western states. “In fact, that gear configuration has been so well accepted, that we have started doing that on all units of that model truck throughout our company,” Millerberg says.

The success of this application is a tribute to a quality supplier relationship. “There was absolutely no way I could have resolved this problem without the help of Kerry Hockemeyer and the factory. We came up with the ideas together and ramrodded them through,” Millerberg says.

Atlantic Handling Cuts a Good Deal

A good recommendation, as the cliché goes, is the best form of marketing. After a recent project performed by Atlantic Handling Systems (Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ), President John Cosgrove would agree.

DISTRIBUTOR: Atlantic Handling Systems
SUMMARY: Word-of-mouth advertising results in large design-and-build project for distributor and first-time customer.

Seacaucus, New Jersey-based Master Cutlery supplies swords, knives and martial arts equipment to mass merchandisers and small martial arts stores. Earlier this year, when it came time for the company to build a new warehouse, Master Cutlery called Atlantic Handling, who had come to their attention through good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth networking. The two companies had not previously worked together.

Master Cutlery hired Atlantic Handling Systems to do a build-and-design project. “It was a little unusual, especially for our first time with this customer, that we didn’t go through a bidding process,” Cosgrove says. “We just tried to go in and be an advocate for the customer and get them the best possible equipment at the best possible price.”

More than 2,500 wire decks, manufactured and delivered by AWP Industries, form the basis of a cutlery maker's facility.

More than 2,500 wire decks, manufactured and delivered by AWP Industries, form the basis of a cutlery maker's facility.

Cosgrove knew that meant calling on AWP Industries, with whom Cosgrove has had great success working in the past. “They’ve always done a good job for us. They’re a quality company that delivers what they promise,” Cosgrove says.

Cosgrove and his team—Account Manager Margaret Fourounjian, Project Engineer Dan Sweetman and Site Supervisor Bob Manion—developed a plan for a conveyor and storage system that featured more than 2,500 wire decks that were 42 in. deep x 46 in. wide with 1,800 pounds of capacity.

Atlantic Handling contacted AWP Material Handling & Storage Representative John Oliveira, who got the ball rolling. Thanks to the efforts of the distributor and manufacturer, the product was shipped complete and on time. “It proved to be an easy installation for the installers,” Cosgrove adds.

The multimillion dollar sale was completed in July 2007. The customer is more than satisfied with its new facilities, so Atlantic Handling Systems can expect more positive recommendations to come pouring in.

Atlas Maps Out a Solution

In a one-level, 435,000 sq. ft. warehouse and distribution facility, Chicago International Produce Market (CIPM) is home to more than 20 wholesale fruit and vegetable merchants whose products find their way into grocery markets and various restaurants throughout the nation. Since 2002, when the market moved to its current location in the Pilsen Industrial Corridor, material handling efficiency has been critical. The market includes more than 300 parking spots and 100 truck docks.

Toyota electric lift trucks keep product moving at the Chicago International Produce Market.

Toyota electric lift trucks keep product moving at the Chicago International Produce Market.

A fleet of 400 lift trucks is used around the clock at CIPM for the transport and handling of sold products. Since produce is easily marred during transportation, it is critical for CIPM to have top-line equipment. “Our vendors lose substantial revenue when their product is poorly handled and damaged,” says Breck Grigas, CIPM board chairman. “A bruised tomato doesn’t have the same resale value.”

CIPM has relied on Tim McGivern, local Toyota account manager of Atlas Toyota Material Handling (Schiller Park, IL), to manage its fleet of lift trucks for more than 20 years. “Reliability is by far the key factor market vendors depend on with their line of lift trucks,” McGivern says. “The 12-hour work days put grueling demands on the equipment. Working with high-quality equipment can reduce downtime and positively impact the bottom line through increased productivity and lower operation and maintenance costs.”

Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A., Inc. responded by offering enhanced equipment features, such as variable speed lowering for fragile loads, precise lifting/lowering controls and greater weight load handling for the multiple tons of produce shipped daily on pallets.

DISTRIBUTOR: Atlas Toyota Material Handling, Inc.
MANUFACTURER: Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A., Inc.
SUMMARY: Limited-space environment thrives with electric lift trucks provided by longtime distributor.

While the new CIPM facilities offer greater space, real estate is still at a premium for the produce resellers, who often vertically stack their items in their booths. “For these applications, lift trucks that offer greater options, such as the quad masts, are preferred. They facilitate the handling of pallets that easily can be stacked to the ceiling and provide greater maneuverability between the narrow aisles,” Grigas says.

Grigas also noted the trend to move from propane-fueled to electric pallet trucks that feature greater environmental benefits. Electric lift trucks offer lower noise, no emissions and are preferred in the food-handling industry to preserve product freshness. Besides being environmentally friendly, electric lift trucks provide economic benefits. Electric lift trucks offer reduced maintenance because they have fewer components than traditional engine-powered lift trucks.

Thanks to Toyota and Atlas Toyota Material Handling, the Chicago International Produce Market continues to deliver the freshest produce to consumers.

Bastian Steps In When the Chips Are Down

A manufacturer of heavy-duty transmissions requires a lot of conveyors—and, in some cases, wears through them with startling rapidity. For 30 years, this manufacturer had worked with a certain supplier to fulfill its conveyor needs. But when the company began to feel that its needs could be better served elsewhere, Bastian Material Handling (Indianapolis, IN) seized the opportunity.

DISTRIBUTOR: Bastian Material Handling, LLC
MANUFACTURER: Jorgensen Conveyors
SUMMARY: Design changes to conveyor for scrap metal extend the life of the equipment and result in repeat business.

Given the manufacturer operates approximately 550 machines, nearly every one of which requires a conveyor to haul the extra metal left over after cutting a gear (the “chip”), the potential for future business was huge. Those conveyors are vital to the operation of the business: If one of the manufacturer’s machines goes down due to a faulty chip conveyor, it costs the manufacturer $40,000 per hour in lost productivity.

With this in mind, Bastian secured the account by establishing a program wherein if a chip conveyor goes down or needs to be replaced, Bastian sends a replacement conveyor within two hours. “They can call us anytime, 24 hours a day,” says Bastian Material Handling Senior Project Engineer Blain Cook. “I’ve been called at 4:00 in the morning, at 6:30 in the evening on a Saturday, and late on a Friday night.”

Before Bastian even began supplying conveyors to the transmission manufacturer, Cook and a representative of Jorgensen Conveyors spent a three-month period surveying every machine in the plant to create a record of what type of conveyor went with each machine. Every machine was assigned a tag number, so when a conveyor goes down, the manufacturer need only provide Cook with the appropriate tag number, and Cook consults his spreadsheet to determine which replacement conveyor is needed.

Bastian stores about 50 purpose-built conveyors for the transmission manufacturer in its Indianapolis warehouse, each of which is suited to a specific machine in the customer’s plant. Cook regularly works with Jorgensen OEM Product Design Specialist Joe Walsh to re-examine the design of the conveyors to provide the customer with equipment best suited to the manufacturer’s unique needs. Recently, Walsh completely redesigned one conveyor to improve its durability.

“The manufacturer produces really, really hard chip, and it would just wreak havoc on this conveyor, so they were only getting four or five months of life out of it,” explains Cook. “We changed 14 different things on the conveyor—everything from the belt design to the casing design—so that the design is unique to this transmission manufacturer. We installed it earlier this year, and it’s already lasted longer than the conveyor it replaced. We’re hoping to get a lot more life out of it.”

The conveyor redesign is part of an overall effort to provide the customer with a better grade of conveyor throughout the plant, including better quality internal components and even a higher grade of steel. Add in Bastian’s rapid response time and careful attention to detail, and you have a very well-satisfied transmission manufacturer—not to mention a sales success story to the tune of 174 conveyors purchased so far since 2002, at a sale value of $1.6 million.

Dougherty Is on a Roll

DISTRIBUTOR: Dougherty Equipment Company
MANUFACTURER: Cascade Corporation
SUMMARY: Specially designed roll clamp eliminates product damage and saves money for customer.

A manufacturer of fiberglass insulation was under pressure to find a solution—literally. Rolls of delicate fiberglass were slipping from forklift clamps, causing damage five and six layers thick, not to mention wearing down the pads on the clamps.

“We added pressure-relief valves to try to regulate the pressure the clamp gives off, and that worked a little better,” says Joey Barksdale, account manager for Dougherty Equipment Company‘s (Charleston, SC) Evans, Georgia, branch. “But there was still room for improvement.”

Cascade Corporation's Adaptive Force Control system attaches to a 60G roll clamp for use by a manufacturer of fiberglass insulation.

Cascade Corporation's Adaptive Force Control system attaches to a 60G roll clamp for use by a manufacturer of fiberglass insulation.

Barksdale read up on Cascade Corporation‘s Adaptive Force Control (AFC) system, a computer-controlled clamping system that ties into the electrical system of the forklift to regulate the clamp pressure, preventing objects from slipping from the clamp’s hold. His interest piqued, he started a dialogue with the customer and began working with Cascade Territory Manager Jesse Cramer to put together a solution.

Cascade built the AFC system to suit the end-user’s need. The system attaches to a Cascade 60G roll clamp with a 72-inch opening range. “The idea behind this system makes a lot of sense,” says Barksdale. “Given the amount of damage this customer has been sustaining, the amount of money they’ll save should be able to offset the cost of the system fairly quickly.”

The clamp and AFC system were delivered in August 2007 for a total sale of $15,000. “If this system cuts back on the damage to the fiberglass rolls, there’s a possibility we could add another 10 or 12 systems when we hopefully renew our agreement with this customer later this fall,” says Barksdale. Sounds like Dougherty Equipment Company is definitely on a roll.


“Say it (sell it) in terms of what the customer wants, needs and understands…not in terms of what you’ve got to offer.”
— Jeffrey Gitomer


Customer Impacts Controlled by Florida Lift

For many users of forklifts, their number one expense associated with the machines comes as a direct result of abuse, according to David Ritter, vice president of major/national accounts at Florida Lift Systems (Tampa, FL). Having heard the complaints numerous times over the years, Ritter helped two customers solve their abuse issues. “Everybody understands that abuse is an issue, but doing something about it is another matter,” Ritter says. “Both of these companies went the next step to get their hands around it and tried to fix the problem.”

Ritter contacted Steve Plexman at BMI Technologies, who helped both a furniture retailer with more than 300 trucks in its fleet and a supermarket chain with a fleet of over 1,000 lift trucks solve their abuse problems. Every lift truck in both companies’ distribution centers is now outfitted with a G-Force vehicle impact alarm system from BMI Technologies.

DISTRIBUTOR: Florida Lift Systems, Inc.
SUMMARY: Accident alert system reduces forklift abuse and product damage.

The G-Force is a box that is installed on the vehicle. Much like a car’s airbag, the G-Force alarm will sound every time the truck contacts another object at a certain level of impact. The horn sounds until a supervisor is able to disarm the truck. The G-Force records the time of the incident and who the operator was so that the forklift operators can be held accountable for their actions. “The customer is able to react to the situation as it happens, which they couldn’t do before,” Ritter says. “By logging the information, they have an accurate record of employee performance.” The furniture retailer went so far as to implement a three strikes policy. If an operator has three impacts that sound the horn, that operator is out of work.

Each unit costs about $600. “One customer told me that the investment they made in G-Force was paid back in under a year just in less rack damage, not even counting what they saved in maintenance on the equipment,” Ritter says. Each new forklift purchased is installed with a G-Force unit, and as trucks are replaced, the units can be programmed to a newer machine. “These customers see the value in the product in controlled abuse and operator accountability. They understand the return on investment.”

FloStor Sorts It Out

DISTRIBUTOR: FloStor Engineering, Inc.
MANUFACTURER: EuroSort Systems
SUMMARY: Prior sales success encourages customer to call for help implementing new sortation system.

The Gymboree Corporation’s direct-to-consumer business experienced so much significant growth over a five-year period that the company’s distribution center was unable to maintain acceptable service levels. In order to increase the capacity of the distribution center and maintain the current staffing level, Gymboree, with the help of a consultant, concluded that a high-speed sortation solution was needed to support the company’s planned growth for their pick-and-pack operation.

A EuroSort dual split-tray sorter provides the ability to sort 14,400 pieces per hour while saving 10,000 sq. ft. of facility space.

A EuroSort dual split-tray sorter provides the ability to sort 14,400 pieces per hour while saving 10,000 sq. ft. of facility space.

The first step was selecting a sorter. Gymboree chose EuroSort‘s unique dual-split tray sorter, which would allow the company to sort up to 14,400 units per hour to one of 186 double/double chamber packing chutes. EuroSort’s solution saved over 10,000 square feet of warehouse space when compared to other sorting solutions, allowing Gymboree to utilize the space for other plant operations.

The next challenge was to design and fabricate a comprehensive tote delivery and complete conveyor system that would not bottleneck the sorter’s high throughput capacity. Based on past successful projects, Gymboree had a solid relationship with FloStor Engineering (Hayward, CA). Thus, FloStor was selected for its design, high-quality product and past relationship with the Gymboree Corporation.

FloStor Vice President of System Sales Chuck Ireland worked with EuroSort and the customer to put together an integrated solution, which today has exceeded The Gymboree Corporation’s expectations. The project and the partnership has proven successful due to the cooperation, relationship and expertise of all three companies involved. “We worked together as a team to put this solution together, and it has worked successfully for the customer,” says FloStor President Bob Weeks.

Read More Online Learn more sales tips from experts such as Don Buttrey, Joe Ellers, Gary T. Moore, and others. Learn how to Sell Like A Change Agent and The Effects of Discounting.

Fred Hill Does It with Flare

Sometimes in sales, timing is everything. Such was the case for Gary Kasmer, account representative at Fred Hill and Son Company (Philadelphia, PA), who was able to parlay a product demonstration into a sale of six drum handlers to a first-time customer.

DISTRIBUTOR: Fred Hill and Son Company
MANUFACTURER: Morse Manufacturing Company
SUMMARY: Drum handler demonstration illustrates ergonomic benefit to customer and leads to six-unit sale.

A flare manufacturer in Aston, Pennsylvania, needed to update its out-of-date practice for unloading its 500- to 800-pound drums from pallets. Their method of having three or four workers nudge the drum off the corner of the pallet was both inefficient and dangerous. The company had just hired a new engineer, whose first project was to solve this ergonomic nightmare.

Although the customer knew it needed to change its procedure, it was reluctant to update its approach because of past difficulties working with equipment suppliers. Kasmer had been targeting this end-user for quite a while and saw his opportunity in the new engineer in charge of the project.

The 82A Series Drum Palletizer from Morse Mfg. Co. allows a flare manufacturer to eliminate ergonomic issues in the warehouse.

The 82A Series Drum Palletizer from Morse Mfg. Co. allows a flare manufacturer to eliminate ergonomic issues in the warehouse.

Kasmer called Nate Andrews, vice president of Morse Manufacturing Company, and the two worked together to ease the customer’s concerns. After discussing a few different scenarios, Andrews and Kasmer decided that a Morse 82A Series Drum Palletizer would be ideal for the customer’s needs. Next, they agreed to cover the freight cost to and from the customer site and waive the standard no-return policy. “In my experience, it’s not the policy for drum handling companies to demo units because the equipment gets beaten up and scratched quickly,” Kasmer explains. “The competition was pretty rigid with its pricing guidelines and sample procedures, but I told Nate the size and potential of the company. We both thought the customer would like that unit if we got it in their hands.”

Morse provided Kasmer with an updated video on the product about a week before they sent a sample unit to the client for a demonstration. “I was familiar with the product, but I wanted to make sure I was totally certain about this particular unit,” Kasmer says.

The Morse 82A drum handler features a saddle drum holder and stands 71 inches tall. The 48.5-inch outer wheel diameter at a 90-degree angle allows the handler to sidle up to a pallet and lift a standard 55-gallon drum up to 20 inches above the floor. Both Andrews and Kasmer believed the product was the right fit, and a short demonstration convinced the customer. He purchased the demo unit and placed an order for five more.

Each unit sold for $1,800, bringing the total sale price to $10,800. The six units were delivered in June 2007. “It was great teamwork, and we really exceeded the end-user’s expectations,” Kasmer says. “It’s such a big place and their business is booming, so I wouldn’t be surprised if more sales are coming. We couldn’t have started off the relationship better.”

Highlander Doubles Customer Storage

When Brooklyn, New York-based Park Avenue Building Supply wanted to build a new warehouse, it faced a storage dilemma. Confronted with the task of moving and storing lumber, decking and structural steel in sections up to 40 feet long, a non-traditional storage method was needed.

DISTRIBUTOR: Highlander Equipment Company, Inc.
SUMMARY: Optimum storage solution for long product bundles results from customer research and distributor product demonstration.

The company planned to build an $11 million, 132,000 sq. ft. facility on a tract of land on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn to house offices for its two facilities and sister company AM&G Waterproofing. By the time space was allotted for the offices and AM&G, only 22,000 sq. ft. of usable storage space remained in the 35,000 sq. ft. warehouse.

AM&G thought cantilever rack was the best choice, as it would allow for more product storage and easier product retrieval, and would reduce double handling and product damage. The need for moving the long loads created a space problem, though, because a traditional forklift would require more aisle space than storage space. With the high price of property in Brooklyn, maximizing square footage is an important concern. Warehouse Supervisor Ariel Rodriguez knew there had to be a better way and began researching alternatives.

Having seen brochures on the Combilift and reviewing application videos on the Combilift Web site, Rodriguez began thinking this might be the solution to their storage problem. He contacted local dealer Highlander Equipment (Stewartsville, NJ), who arranged for a demonstration to see the Combilift in action. The product demonstration featured the Combilift driving sideways and carrying long loads both inside and outside the building. According to Rodriguez, “The demo was awesome, and everyone was sold on the product. Once senior management saw the ease of handling product, the safety aspect and the potential storage savings, it was a no-brainer.”

Now that the equipment was agreed upon, Highlander and Combilift’s warehouse design teams worked together to design the warehouse around the Combilift equipment to maximize storage density. “The challenge was to store as much product as possible in the warehouse space the customer had available, and after measuring the area, we worked with the design team at Combilift to find the most suitable layout,” says Highlander Equipment President Bill Martin. “Due to the constraints they faced, it made sense to implement the guide roller option on the Combilift.” As a bonus, the aisle-guided machine virtually eliminates damage to the machine, the product or the racking.

Combilift trucks help maximize space both inside and outside a building supply company in Brooklyn, where space is always at a premium.

Combilift trucks help maximize space both inside and outside a building supply company in Brooklyn, where space is always at a premium.

Two Combilift C10000L models with guided aisles allow Park Avenue Building Supply to store long loads in 8-foot-wide aisles up to heights as much as 19 feet, providing double the storage space as a conventional system. In addition to storage savings, the customer also uses the machines for pallets and drywall. Outside in the parking lot, operators load and unload trucks in a smaller area, enhancing safety and leaving more space for customer parking.

The solution has worked so well that Park Avenue has hinted that more Combilifts may be in store later on. “Two are fine for now, but I have no doubt we will need more as we continue to expand,” says Rodriguez. “They are like the James Bond car of the forklift world—very multi-purpose.”

Seven Is Wild for Hy-Tek

DISTRIBUTOR: Hy-Tek Material Handling, Inc.
MANUFACTURER: Western Pacific Storage Solutions, Kingway, Interroll, Nelson Steel, InCord
SUMMARY: Planning and expertise allow distributor to concurrently install seven large distribution centers in different regions of the country.

In 2006, a large pet supplies retail chain decided to bring product into its warehouses that traditionally had gone straight to stores. Its warehouses, however, were not equipped to handle these additional products. Keogh Consulting was brought in to analyze the situation. “The bottom line is, these facilities did not have the capacity to handle these additional products,” Principal Tom Guschke says. “Part of the problem was that the facilities were designed primarily for fast-moving items, and the new items were of a variety of shapes, sizes and demand levels.”

Western Pacific contributed racking to the simultaneous setup of seven distribution centers across the country.

Western Pacific contributed racking to the simultaneous setup of seven distribution centers across the country.

Guschke performed a capacity and racking analysis to determine how to best handle the 300 or so additional products that would come into the distribution center. After a competitive bidding process, distributor Hy-Tek Material Handling (Columbus, OH) was selected to assist with the implementation.

Seven distribution centers would be affected, and the time frame to achieve the changeover was very short. “It was on a very fast track because the decision had already been made to bring these products in,” says Guschke, who did the initial designs. Hy-Tek Sales Representative Donnie Johnson worked to get the plans certified in each of the seven municipalities where the DCs would be implemented. “Each city is different, so that took some patience,” Johnson says.

The size of each installation varied, but each included carton flow from Western Pacific Storage Systems, pallet rack from Kingway, Interroll pallet flow, wire decking from Nelson Steel and safety netting by InCord.

Hy-Tek lined up installation crews for each facility, and installation was performed in conjunction with the customer operations. “We didn’t have one facility shut down at any time,” Johnson says. “We either worked while they worked or shut down an aisle at a time during the night shift so that we didn’t interfere with the workflow.” It was a whirlwind few weeks, but Hy-Tek got the job done.

Indoff Pulls Its Weight

Oversized floor scales from Fairbanks Scales reduce damage for a gear manufacturer.

Oversized floor scales from Fairbanks Scales reduce damage for a gear manufacturer.

Weigh counting is a procedure where identical parts of a certain weight are gathered into a receptacle, which is weighed. When the total weight is divided by the known weight of each part, the result is the total number of parts. This is how a maker of transmission gears in Richmond, Kentucky, counts its inventory of forged parts.

The company had a longtime relationship with a scale manufacturer who also came to the customer site to perform service. Eventually, the scales needed to be replaced, and Byron Ambrose of Indoff (St. Louis, MO) was ready to help. He called on Tom Forsythe, Cincinnati area sales manager at Fairbanks Scales, and the two jointly visited the customer. “Forsythe was very knowledgeable and helpful when we met with the customer and determined exactly what they needed,” Ambrose says.

The two men noticed that the customer’s scales were actually undersized for the application. “The scales were back in the forging area and took quite a bit of abuse. The forklift operators were beating the heck out of the load scales,” Ambrose says.

DISTRIBUTOR: Indoff, Incorporated
MANUFACTURER: Fairbanks Scales
SUMMARY: Joint distributor and manufacturer visit corrects equipment misapplication by customer.

It only took a half-hour sales call for the Ambrose-Forsythe tandem to close a deal for oversized equipment to give the user more durability. The customer placed an order for two 5 ft. x 5 ft. Aegis 10K floor scales. “Fairbanks did a great job of getting that material out of their plant, installed and calibrated,” Ambrose says. The customer was pleased enough to purchase another floor scale with an FB350 indicator in March. “They appreciated the fact that we gave them something the other guys did not recommend,” Ambrose says. “Plus, we actually saved them money.”

To top off the package, Fairbanks also quoted the service end of the deal, which left Ambrose impressed. “Fairbanks was very professional and was able to come up with a plan to eliminate the customer’s previous problem of having the incorrect scale.”

Fowl Play at Lift Solutions


lift solutions

Analysis by UNEX Manufacturing resulted in the installation of multiple types of storage equipment at a poultry facility.

When Lincoln Poultry, a complete food service distributor located in Lincoln, Nebraska, was building a new facility, they contacted several companies to submit pallet rack and layout designs. Among those was Lift Solutions (Omaha, NE), whose warehouse equipment team put together an initial design. Based on that information, Lift Solutions was chosen as one of the finalists.

Lift Solutions knew that to win the project, they’d have to go above and beyond the competition’s offer. “We offered to go through the entire warehouse and manually count and measure every single SKU to determine what storage system was best for each product,” Warehouse Engineer Brian Drelicharz recalls. “The customer liked the sound of that, which really is what helped turn the decision in our favor.”

Lift Solutions’ warehouse equipment team and UNEX Manufacturing‘s Rich Stokes spent more than 300 man-hours counting and measuring each SKU in dry storage, coolers and freezers. The process wasn’t always easy. “One time we were in the freezer and our machine got affected by the cold. We had to re-enter about two hours’ worth of measurements, which isn’t fun when you’re in a freezer. But in the long run it was worth it,” Drelicharz says.

DISTRIBUTOR: Lift Solutions Inc.
MANUFACTURER: UNEX Manufacturing, Steel King Industries
SUMMARY: Manual counting of inventory helps determine proper storage solution.

The findings were sent to UNEX President Brian Neuwirth, who entered the data into Unex’s SKUBE analysis program, which helped determine that a combination of carton flow, selective pallet rack and pushback would be the best solution for the application. Once the types of storage equipment were determined, it was up to Lift Solutions to complete the design. All told, the installation was for 2,233 lanes of Span-Track carton flow lanes, some 9-inch and some 12-inch. Plus, there were 840 bays of SK3000 pallet rack from Steel King Industries.

The sale was completed in December 2006, and the final installation was finished by the on-site general contractor in March 2007.

Old Storage Systems Die Hard at LiftOne

Duncan, South Carolina-based Draexlmaier Auto Parts had a Stac-U-Rak tool and die storage rack system by Ridg-U-Rak used to store 6,000-pound dies.

SUMMARY: Customer upgrades to custom product based on manufacturer and distributor visit.

Tony Goodwin, major accounts manager at LiftOne (Charlotte, NC), has had Draexlmaier as a customer since he joined the company five years ago. However, the 6,000-pound die storage system was sold to Draexlmaier before he came on board. When Goodwin found out last September that the company wanted to expand that system and also add a new 16,000-pound die handling system, Goodwin contacted Paul Flecken, regional sales representative at Ridg-U-Rak. “I knew they’d had great success with the Stac-U-Rak product, so I asked Paul to come in and take a look at the application with me,” Goodwin recalls. “We took some measurements, and he sent them back to the factory, who responded with designs.”

Goodwin and Flecken essentially doubled the existing 6,000-pound system with six new double-sided bays. Within those 12 bays, 84 pallets can be placed wherever the customer wants. The new 16,000-pound system featured seven double-sided bays, for a total of 14 sections of shelving. “This one was not a pallet-style system,” Goodwin explains. The customer now has four levels of shelving, including the floor, complete with beams and steel decking.

Installation on both systems was completed by Ridg-U-Rak’s factory installation crew in May 2007. “They were fantastic, top-notch people,” Goodwin says. “Having that good support both before and after the sale was important.”

“It all boils down to the relationship with the customer. If I didn’t have the relationship, there’s a good chance we would not have had the opportunity at all,” Goodwin says. “Of course, the other side of it was the reliability of the product that was already in place. It had proven itself to the customer, so that helped too.”


MH Equipment Furnishes a Solution

Custom-made decks from AWP Industries feature welded metal strips for forks to glide on.

Custom-made decks from AWP Industries feature welded metal strips for forks to glide on.

Allsteel Office Systems, a Muscatine, Iowa-based manufacturer of file cabinets, bookshelves and cubicles, was faced with a dilemma. Warehouse workers were using carton clamps to move finished goods from wire decks onto pallets for shipment. When forklift operators picked up the finished products, the clamps would routinely squeeze and damage the wire decks.

During one of MH Equipment (Mossville, IL) Sales Representative Bill Baker‘s regular calls on Allsteel, a longtime customer with whom he’d developed a relationship, the problem was brought to his attention. “We weren’t sure what to do at first because the fire codes in Muscatine don’t allow solid deck shelving,” Baker explains. “We were making it too complicated and thinking we needed to put a punch plate or something on top of the deck. But once we really thought about it, all we needed was something for the clamp pads to slide on.”

Baker determined that installing two three-inch-wide strips of 12-gauge steel on the decking would solve the problem. But there were 1,284 damaged panels covering over 25,000 square feet. A prototype was developed in the maintenance department, and within a couple of hours it was clear that this solution would work. However, the condition of many of the panels was so bad that modifying them was unlikely and new, custom-made decks would be necessary.

DISTRIBUTOR: MH Equipment Company
SUMMARY: Specially designed decking reduces damage by forklift operators.

That’s when Baker contacted Shelly Daddone at AWP Industries. AWP had produced some custom orders in the past for MH Equipment, so Baker knew the partnership would come up with a great result. It developed into a $31,000 sale that was completed in 2006. “It turned out to be a much more cost-effective solution and worked better than before.”

Each of the new decks was delivered on time and the customer couldn’t be happier with the results. It just goes to show the value of a good long-term relationship.

NECI Racks Up Sale With Repair Solution

Allen Millwork had a problem. For 12 years, the wholesale building material distributor and lumber yard in Shreveport, Louisiana, had used an unusual rack system that conveyed bundles of lumber onto racks via automated rollers. When employees began using forklifts to push 2x4s, 2x6s and 2x8s into the system instead of using the powered rollers, the uprights took a beating. Parts of the rack were so damaged that lumber could no longer be stored safely, wasting valuable warehouse space.

Rack medX reinforced damaged uprights to repair a lumberyard's unique racking system.

Rack medX reinforced damaged uprights to repair a lumberyard's unique racking system.

In January, Allen Millwork called Kurt Nelson, vice president of Nelson Equipment Company (Shreveport, LA), to ask him to look at the damaged racks. Nelson expected to find an ordinary storage system. “I figured I would see some vanilla pallet rack, just conventional racking that everybody has,” he says. “I got over there, and it was a special animal. Nobody was familiar with it.” The system was designed by New Jersey-based auto-stak and comes with a separate device to load the product—a steel framework with several powered rollers driven by a 12-volt battery. When lumber is loaded onto the framework, a forklift operator can lift and maneuver it to a storage bay, where he activates the rollers by remote control. The rollers drive the lumber into the racking, and integrated gravity rollers accept the bundles.

The system would have cost around $200,000 to replace, so Allen Millwork decided to pursue a repair solution instead. “They weren’t looking to buy anything,” explains Nelson, who came up with a preliminary quote to fix the system. “I had a material cost, threw in some labor and got their attention,” he says. “I thought about replacing all of the upright frames, totally dismantling the system and putting it back together, but that was going to be very expensive.” Instead, he contacted the repair team at Rack medX, a division of DC Service Systems, and together they formulated a proposal that met Allen Millwork’s needs. A Rack medX crew agreed to travel to Shreveport from their location—six hours away in Olive Branch, Mississippi. “I asked Rack medX to come in on their own nickel, and they were interested enough to drive over,” Nelson says. “They did a profile, took some measurements and sent a proposal to me.” There was still one obstacle that had to be overcome before the sale could be made—Rack medX needed a down payment for materials, a requirement that Nelson hadn’t included in his proposal. He went back to Allen Millwork and explained the situation. The down payment wasn’t a problem, and in late March the project was approved.

DISTRIBUTOR: Nelson Equipment Company, Inc.
SUMMARY: Customer saves money by repairing rather than replacing damaged racks.

Completely unloading the racks was not an option, so Rack medX worked section by section, fixing the storage system while Allen Millwork re-loaded product behind them. Rack medX cut out damaged sections with an abrasive cutting saw, then braced the uprights with pieces of square tubing. The original racks were made of roll-formed steel, but Rack medX used more durable structural steel, improving the strength of the system. The new and old sections were joined by a foot-long collar, and Rack medX welded around the collar to complete the repair. The entire job took about two weeks to finish. “It was really a quick turnaround,” Nelson says.

The job was completed in early April, to win-win-win reviews. The total sale added up to around $44,000, and Nelson says the partnership with Rack medX is something he would consider for future applications. “It turned out to be a nice project for everyone,” he says.

Papé Weighs In with a Solution

AccuLoad Scales' LTWS-1 hydraulic forklift scale lets the operator know the exact weight of each load.

AccuLoad Scales' LTWS-1 hydraulic forklift scale lets the operator know the exact weight of each load.

A lumberyard had a problem: Many of its trucks were going out overloaded, and the company had been fined. The question was how to measure the weight of the loads on the trucks to avoid being cited. One possible solution was to load the truck, then weigh it on a public scale. But if the truck were overloaded, that would require driving back to the lumberyard to remove some of the load, which was really no solution at all.

Enter Papé Material Handling (Eugene, OR) Product Support Representative Steve Lange. “The lumberyard purchased some new forklifts, and I went out there to help set them up,” says Lange. “While I was there, I asked the customer questions to find out what other issues he might have that I could help him with, and this problem came up.”

Lange knew just what the lumberyard needed. His previous experience working with AccuLoad Scales President Bob Bushong had given him an appreciation for how such scales could help solve his customers’ problems. Lange proposed a forklift scale that could measure the weight of each successive load placed on a truck and alert the lumberyard employees when the maximum weight had been reached. The customer took to the idea immediately.

DISTRIBUTOR: Papé Material Handling
SUMMARY: Follow-up on forklift sale leads to sale and installation of load scales.

Lange worked with Bob’s son Greg Bushong to obtain an AccuLoad model LTWS-1 hydraulic forklift scale. “It’s a transducer that goes on the hydraulics of the lift and senses the pressure, then converts that hydraulic pressure to an electrical signal, which the scale converts to a number,” explains Lange. “It has only a few buttons, so it’s very user-friendly.”

The customer ordered one scale to start with, which was installed in August 2007 for a total sale of $3,200, and plans to add at least one more if all goes according to plan. “If this scale helps the customer avoid even one citation for an overloaded truck, it will pay for itself,” says Lange. And that’s definitely a weight off the customer’s mind!

Portman Pumps It Up

The old adage, “The customer is always right” sometimes doesn’t hold true in material handling. Just ask Chris Clagg, account manager at the Nitro, West Virginia, branch of Portman Equipment Company (Cincinnati, OH).

DISTRIBUTOR: Portman Equipment Company
MANUFACTURER: Linde Material Handling NA
SUMMARY: Equipment demo leads to sale of a high-capacity, rough terrain forklift and a service contract.

In March, Clagg received a call from Lance Schultz, branch manager at the Huntington, West Virginia, location of Thompson Pump. Schultz said he was interested in purchasing a rough-terrain telescopic handler to handle various industrial pumps. Clagg scheduled a visit, and it didn’t take long after he arrived to determine that a telescopic handler was not what Schultz required. “He needed a machine with enough capacity to handle his heaviest pump, which weighed 14,000 pounds,” Clagg says. “But he also needed something that could navigate the gravelly terrain at their location.”

Clagg suggested an H70D high-capacity lift truck with hydrostatic drive from Linde Material Handling NA. Portman had one stocked in its new equipment inventory, and Clagg took it to the customer site for a demo. “The machine exceeded all their expectations,” Clagg says. Schultz convinced the corporate office that this was the machine they needed to replace their previous equipment, a Sky-Trak telehandler. The Linde unit simply provided a higher lift capacity. At the same time, it is a more compact machine and cuts down on the amount of time spent to move pumps around the lot.

Once everyone agreed that the Linde product was the correct piece of equipment, Clagg simply left the demo unit at the customer site and sold a contract maintenance agreement for the unit that covers all normal and routine maintenance for the next five years. Shortly after, Schultz created a marketing piece that included a photo of the company’s service trucks, and guess what is in the center of the photo? The Linde H70D. As Clagg says, “I think that truly shows their satisfaction with the machine and their feeling that it is an integral part of the operation.”

Everybody Loves Raymond of New Jersey, LLC

The Volvo Rents dealership (William Ellis Partners), with locations in Somerville, New Jersey, and Langhorne, Pennsylvania, was looking to add a fleet of short-term rental equipment to complement its larger Volvo equipment. The new ownership group in place was very concerned about the forklift rental fleet. Several employees at the company were familiar with the Raymond of New Jersey, LLC (Union, NJ) reputation, so that’s who President Bill Ellis and Director of Sales Michael McDonald called to assist with the purchase.

Raymond of New Jersey, LLC is an authorized dealer for The Raymond Corporation, but Raymond only manufactures electric trucks. When the customer wanted to see the internal combustion, propane models, Vice President of Aftermarket Services John Wermert and his team showed Volvo Rents the different forklifts manufactured by Clark Material Handling.

DISTRIBUTOR: Raymond of New Jersey, LLC
MANUFACTURER: Clark Material Handling Company
SUMMARY: Conversion to propane IC trucks results in multiple sales.

Wermert called Clark Sales Representative Shawn Palmer, who was able to give some valuable advice. “We asked Clark about specific options that would best suit the rental market,” Wermert says. “They were very good with knowledge and support.” The customer tried out the Clark machines and felt they were excellent products. Wermert says, “The motors and drive trains were built strong enough for their application. Overall, the excellent Clark quality allowed Volvo to keep their material handling operational costs in line.”

After searching the products of a couple of different manufacturers, the customer decided to go with the Clark product. Palmer and his team at Clark guaranteed parts support and customer service, promises that sealed the deal. The customer has since placed additional orders for the rental fleet, a combination of Clark C25C cushion-tire propane trucks, CMP and Gen2 pneumatic trucks. “We’re on a third order right now. We’ve been receiving orders for their rental fleet each time the need arises,” Wermert says. “It is truly a partnership.”

Looking out for customer needs and having the support of the manufacturer got the deal done for Raymond of New Jersey, LLC. “We took the consultative approach of looking at long-term costs and objectives for the customer,” Wermert says. “The Clark wasn’t their cheapest out-of-the-box option, but it was the best solution for the customer by far.”

Customer Gets Customs from SIE

Mike Wagner, sales manager at Southeast Industrial Equipment (Charlotte, NC), has developed a long-term relationship with a Durham, North Carolina, manufacturer of automobile transmissions. “I started with this particular account before there was a building and there was only a trailer on site,” he recalls.

More than 25 custom-made carts such as this one from Hamilton Caster help an automotive supplier operate more efficiently.

More than 25 custom-made carts such as this one from Hamilton Caster help an automotive supplier operate more efficiently.

The plant has since doubled in size, and uses tuggers to pull carts around the plant for stocking parts along the assembly lines. “The customer has for a long time been looking for some custom-made carts with specific sizes and characteristics,” says Wagner, who called on his past relationship with Hamilton Caster & Mfg. Co. Wagner contacted Bob Lattimer in the Hamilton truck department and gave specs as to what the customer needed designed. Engineer John Yater did the drawings.

The carts are used for a wide range of applications, so Wagner called in seven different sets of measurements and requirements. “Some have a lip so nothing can fall off, and some are a different width or length depending on what is transported on them,” Wagner explains. The units range in price from $2,500 to $5,000, and Wagner estimates that Hamilton has produced 25-30 custom-made carts over the last year and a half, with more to come. “It’s kind of an ongoing thing; as they continue to grow the plant, there will be more opportunities for us.”

DISTRIBUTOR: Southeast Industrial Equipment
MANUFACTURER: Hamilton Caster & Mfg Co.
SUMMARY: Collaboration between manufacturer and distributor produces various custom-designed carts for automotive plant.

The team of Wagner, Lattimer and Yater make a great combo. “They are just super people to work with,” Wagner says. “It’s gotten to the point where the customer tells me what they want and I just send it to Hamilton, and they make it happen.” If the customer called today, Hamilton realistically would have drawings done in less than a week. Once approved, the actual build time is about 6-8 weeks.

“It’s all about relationships and building trust and confidence,” Wagner says. “The customer had enough confidence and trust in us to ask for help, and we in turn said we had that trust and confidence in Hamilton Caster. The customer could have gotten it cheaper somewhere else, but that bond is very important. That’s the way we like to do business.”

Vargo Racks Up Volvo

A custom-made cantilever system by West Point Rack is capable of supporting 12,000 pounds per level.

A custom-made cantilever system by West Point Rack is capable of supporting 12,000 pounds per level.

The Volvo North American distribution plant in Lewis Center, Ohio, was rapidly running out of space. The plant was storing large parts—weighing up to 8,000 and 9,000 pounds each—for use on backhoes and other large pieces of machinery, but with no organized storage system in place, the parts were on the ground, taking up valuable floor space.

Volvo turned to longtime material handling partner Vargo Material Handling (Hilliard, OH) and Account Manager Jason Bond. “We were in the facility looking at a couple of other projects, and the subject came up,” says Bond. “They knew they had an issue with the area, but they didn’t know if anything was available to help them. They already had some cantilever rack that we provided them in the past, so they were familiar with that type of system and liked how it worked, but they weren’t sure they’d be able to use something similar to store such large items.”

DISTRIBUTOR: Vargo Material Handling, Inc.
SUMMARY: Custom cantilever solution opens the door to future projects at a Volvo distribution plant.

Bond worked with West Point Rack to develop a solution. West Point came up with a custom cantilever upright capable of holding 4,000 pounds capacity per arm and 40,000 pounds capacity on the upright. With four-foot spacing, each item would have four arms underneath it, providing the ability to store 12,000 pounds per level. West Point’s Reva Bily performed complicated quote work for the end-user. In the end, the sale came to $40,000.

The installation was complete in August 2007, and, according to Bond, the customer is “extremely pleased.” As a bonus, this sale has opened the door to future projects. “They already have us in there looking at finishing the row and putting more in,” says Bond. “They only allot so much money each year for material handling improvements like this, and our contact there says he has already budgeted another $100,000 for more improvements next year because the project went so well.”

Wisconsin Lift Truck: A Real Glass Act

This custom forklift from BPR/Rico meets the need for an industrial glass maker.

This custom forklift from BPR/Rico meets the need for an industrial glass maker.

Cardinal Glass Industries, which produces heavy-duty sheets of glass for use in manufacturing windows for large buildings, had a bit of a weighty problem. In order to transport the glass the company produces, the sheets are installed in an A-frame that supports a sheet of glass on either side, tilted inward toward the top. Each glass-bearing A-frame weighs 25,000 pounds, making them tricky to maneuver. A series of platform trucks the company had bought were not performing the way Cardinal had hoped they might. It was at this point that Wisconsin Lift Truck (Brookfield, WI) Vice President of Fleet Services Mike Casey stepped in.

“The truck’s platform wasn’t thick enough, and it was bowing under the weight,” explains Casey. “And when the trucks loaded the glass onto semi-trailers, you could actually see the floor ripple like water. So for us the mission was twofold: Build the truck stronger, so it wouldn’t distort, and make it light enough so it could drive onto the trailers and not wreck them.”

Casey immediately contacted BPR/Rico Equipment to provide them with the details, and arranged a trip for himself and two Cardinal representatives to Rico’s facility to discuss design criteria. Working with Rico’s President David Mueller and Vice President Michael Ross, they began to develop a solution in the form of a modified 36-volt electric truck with dual-drive units and a lifting capacity of 30,000 pounds. The first two platform trucks Rico shipped were still too heavy, so the company made some further modifications. But the third time was the charm.

DISTRIBUTOR: Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp.
SUMMARY: Specially engineered lift truck undergoes multiple redesigns to meet customer need.

“Rico took weight out by removing metal from the platform that wasn’t pertinent to the function of the truck,” says Casey. “Eventually they came up with a product that was light enough that it didn’t destroy the trailers, without affecting the lifting capacity of the machine.” The trucks include other custom modifications as well, such as a lift limit to prevent operators from accidentally hitting the roof of the trailer, wheel location indicator lights so that the operator always knows in which direction the truck’s wheels are pointed, and a front windshield to prevent the operator from being injured by stray sharp edges.

Since the first two successful trucks were delivered, Cardinal has purchased dozens for its plants across the United States, some with additional modifications like a shield in the back of the truck or an overhead guard. Wisconsin Lift Truck continues to be Cardinal’s chosen supplier for the specially designed Rico platform trucks—which proves that this is one customer that knows a real “glass act” when they see one.

Problem Solved On the Double

DISTRIBUTOR: Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp.
SUMMARY: Double bay racking increases customer productivity.

In an effort to increase efficiency, a Green Bay, Wisconsin-based cold storage facility began using a single-double pallet handler to transport two pallets at a time. However, the company’s standard drive-in rack configuration in the storage area required that the operator load each pallet into the rack individually, which took a great deal of extra time. The company contacted Mark DeCleene, fleet manager for Wisconsin Lift Truck (Brookfield, WI), to ask if he could help them find a solution.

Twinlode racking allows customer to handle and store two pallets at a time.

Twinlode racking allows customer to handle and store two pallets at a time.

DeCleene remembered reading about a company called Twinlode that manufactured rack that would permit pallets to be stored side by side, thus eliminating the need to drop one pallet while loading the other singly. After a bit of research, he contacted the company, and soon he and engineer Kristine Rauch were working with Twinlode President Ray Chase and Vice President of Sales Mike Klaer.

“Mike Klaer explained to me how their system works, and I knew that was exactly what I was looking for,” says DeCleene. “Ray Chase came in and personally measured it, and he helped us put the quote together. Twinlode did the design and the layout, and they gave us CAD drawings of the project. They were there to help us in any way they could.”

The Twinlode drive-in racking system that was installed at the cold storage facility in spring 2007 is 12 bays wide, 8 pallets deep and 3 high, allowing for 576 pallet positions. “Being able to handle two loads at once has helped the customer to cut their handling time by almost 40 percent,” says DeCleene.

The rack sale came in at $80,000, but that isn’t the end of the story. The customer was so pleased with the solution Wisconsin Lift Truck and Twinlode provided that Wisconsin Lift Truck has received an additional $200,000 in business at the cold storage facility. In addition, the sale cemented a new relationship between distributor and manufacturer—with their dedication to finding solutions and providing quality customer service, clearly Wisconsin Lift Truck and Twinlode are two of a kind.

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