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Forklift Frights

“We Failed Miserably.” It’s every company’s nightmare: begin work on a project, only to discover your solution does not solve the problem. The nightmare was all too real for Gary Millerberg, territory manager at Arnold Equipment Company ( Salt Lake City, UT). This type of horror story happens on occasion, but what counts is how it is overcome.

Millerberg was contacted by a paper-recycling company with multistate operations. The recycling company transports its own forklift to a jobsite, an operation which requires the lift truck to be loaded onto a trailer via a short, steep ramp. The company had been disappointed with the performance of its supplier’s trucks and sought a new solution. As the Hyster 30FT started up the ramp, however, it quickly became apparent the climb was too much for the truck.

“We failed miserably,” Millerberg says. Millerberg was undeterred, however. He enlisted the help of Kerry Hockemeyer, regional sales manager at Hyster Company; together, the pair hatched a plan to overcome the foreboding climb. They put their heads together and—in concert with Hyster engineers—decided to strengthen the horsepower and alter the gear ratio to provide a fighting chance.

The second attempt also ended in defeat, but the Arnold team would not give up. Millerberg went back to Hockemeyer, and the factory team developed a gear-reduction system which proved successful. The truck made the climb, and the recycling company had found a new supplier of industrial trucks: Hyster.

Impressed by the team work between supplier and distributor, the recycling company purchased two of the $23,000 trucks in the spring, three more during the summer, and Millerberg is hopeful the company will replace its entire 58-truck fleet in five western states with the improved model. “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.

Through team work and determination, Hyster and Arnold turned the nightmare into a dream come true. “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.

Calm After the Storms

Hurricanes are terrifying events—the high winds, the storm surge and lives tornas under. When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita roared into the Gulf Coast in 2005, the world of business was hard hit—attempts to conduct business as usual were often snuffed out. A national home improvement retail chain, however, was rescued from rough seas by Continental Lift Truck Corporation (Jordan, MN).

The retailer’s distribution center, located in Mount Vernon, Texas, had previously ordered 12 LP lift trucks with four-way hydraulics and 48 in. x 48 in. carton clamp attachments from its normal distributor, the Crown Lift Trucks factory store in Grand Prairie, Texas. However, branch rental and used manager John Crouch told the customer the inventory ordered by the center had been appropriated to the relief effort. In order to avoid leaving his customer high and dry, Cr ouch knew who to call; he had a pre-established five-year relationship with Continental.

Even from 1,000 miles away, Continental sprang into action. The company was able to draw on its fleet o f about 150 short-term rental trucks and find just what was needed. “It ’s not uncommon for us to have what others may consider an unusual order, ” says Mike Sibulkin, Continental’s vice president.

“Our rental fleet is full of specialty equipment that other people don’t normally deal with.” Continental Rental Coordinator Duc Tran kept the retailer updated so there weren’t any surprises, and within a week, three truckloads of forklifts were on their way from Minnesota to the Texas distribution center.

A mixture of brands made their way southward to the Lone Star State, including Hyster, Toyota and Nissan. Each truck was fitted with a 48 in. x 48 in. carton clamp from Cascade Corporation. “We lucked out to find that many that late in the game with the attachments,” Crouch says. Crown mechanics serviced the account during the four-month rental period, after which they were shipped back to Continental. “The package worked out great for everybody,” Crouch says. “The distributor made some money on some equipment and helped us take care of our customer to get them through the peak caused by the hurricane.”

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

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