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Manufacturers And Distributors Team Up For Success

In the sports world, it has almost become a cliché. After a big win, the Most Valuable Player always gives the credit to his teammates. Olympians rarely forget to credit their training partners. While it may make for boring sound bites, the truth in the statement is evident. One person has never taken a team to glory, or won a championship by himself or herself.

It’s the same in the material handling industry. Great projects are rarely, if ever, tackled by one single person or company. The best projects come when a manufacturer and a distributor are able to put aside differences and focus on the ultimate prize—a satisfied customer. Over the next few pages you will see stories of manufacturers and distributors doing just that. These outstanding organizations prove that teamwork and dedication can help take companies to never before seen levels of sales success.

To view a particular distributor, click their name below, or simply scroll down through the article.
Advanced Equipment Company
AHS, Inc.
A & K Equipment Company
Applied Handling Equipment Company
Arpac Storage Systems
Atlantic Coast Toyotalift
Atlantic Handling Systems
Bastian Material Handling
Bastian Material Handling
Coastal Equipment
Curlin Material Handling Systems
DAK Equipment & Engineering Co.
Felix F. Loeb Inc.
FMH Material Handling Solutions
Heubel Material Handling
Hy-Tek Material Handling
Material Handling Inc.
Minnesota Supply Company
National Lift Truck
Ogden Forklifts
R.H. Brown Co.
Riekes Material Handling Company
Sunbelt Industrial Trucks
Storage Solutions
Trius Industries
Toyota Material Handling
Northern California

Warner Specialty Products
Wisconsin Lift Truck


Advanced Equipment Provides a Local Touch

Having a local distributor nearby is often a major selling point for an end-user. This was certainly the case when Advanced Equipment Company (Charlotte, NC) and Lyon Workspace Products teamed up to make a sale.

DISTRIBUTOR: Advanced Equipment Company
MANUFACTURER: Lyon Workspace Products
SUMMARY: Manufacturer re-routes racking project back through local distributor.

James River Equipment, a John Deere heavy equipment dealer, decided to build a new warehouse north of Charlotte for parts and equipment storage. Because it had used Lyon pallet rack in other locations, the company alerted Lyon of its intentions. In conversation with James River Equipment’s general manager, Lyon District Manager Brian McKnight determined that having a local stocking distributor with shelving and other products on hand was critical to satisfy this long-time customer. Luckily, McKnight knew just who to call—Bart Lassiter, a sales engineer at Advanced Equipment who had worked with James River on a previous sale.

Pallet Rack

Pallet rack and shelving from Lyon Workspace Products help a heavy equipment dealer stock more parts.

Lassiter worked with McKnight to determine the proper layout and design for the new 10,000 sq. ft. warehouse. They presented a competitive quote that included materials, installation and project management and won the order for pallet rack and shelving. McKnight and Lassiter coordinated the project with the general contractor, and designed a system featuring 8-foot-high, 36 in. x 12 in. and 18 in. x 24 in. shelving, plus four levels of 16-foot, 42 in. x 48 in. cantilever rack. The material shipped on time, and the installation went off without a hitch in February 2008.

The sale wasn’t the most expensive Lassiter has ever been part of—all told, it was less than $20,000—but he knows the teamwork shown by Advanced and Lyon impressed the customer. After the installation was complete, James River decided it wanted different size shelves, and Advanced Equipment was able to accommodate the new order and again give James River exactly what it needed. “When you get out in the field, everything looks a little different than it does on paper,” says Lassiter. “We were just glad to be able to make the final project a little more user-friendly for the customer than our original design was.”

AHS Is Able to “Clothes” the Deal

When a major clothing retailer was seeking expansion, the team at AHS Inc. (Cincinnati, OH) wasted no time sealing the deal. The company’s facility had originally been outfitted by a competitor, but the customer opened up the expansion project for bid. AHS took advantage of the opportunity. It was able to secure the sale thanks to a creative design and adapting its plans to the needs of the customer.

A complex pick module and conveyor system

A complex pick module and conveyor system allowed a clothing manufacturer to maximize storage in its 35-foot-high facility.

As part of the expansion, the clothing retailer was looking to install a simpler storage and conveyor system. AHS Managing Partner Jeff Miller worked with Account Manager Steve Schwietert and Director of Engineering Lou Shelton‘s team of Bob Lancaster, Steve Thompson and John Lewis to design and facilitate the installation of a three-level pick module, per the original design plans. However, the engineers realized that they could fit a four-level module in the 35-foot-tall building, maximizing storage potential and still staying within the retailer’s budget.

Once the specs and safety requirements on the four-level module were decided, the AHS team got even more creative. By integrating much of the customer’s existing equipment into the design, the team was able to provide the same functionality at a lower price. The existing equipment needed some supplements, however. AHS brought in 6,000 feet of TGW-ERMANCO conveyor, including narrow belt accumulation conveyor, a pop-up sorter, lineshaft, Cruz belt, 24-volt powered roller and a trash belt. The system featured 3,100 feet of garment-on-hanger equipment. In addition, the storage system created 116 pallet locations and 67,000 carton storage locations and used 102,000 sq. ft. of Resindek from Cornerstone Wood Products. It also included Wildeck stairways and a three-conveyor, double-sided fire door, in addition to the four-level pick module from Interlake.

MANUFACTURER: TGW-ERMANCO, Wildeck, Cornerstone Wood Products, Interlake
SUMMARY:Distributor adds a level to pick module to subtract customer costs.

Miller recognizes that AHS could not have completed this job so successfully without a great deal of cooperation from the suppliers. “The manufacturers really helped us provide the best storage solution possible,” he says. Manufacturers waived the surcharge on the steel used for the job, saving AHS money and allowing them to quote the customer a lower price. Along with the reduced steel prices, timely delivery of the major equipment was a critical selling point. The $3.5 million project had to be completed by October, and the bid wasn’t finalized until late June. “The manufacturers were really aggressive with their delivery times. Within four weeks, we began physical work at the site,” Miller says.

That kind of partnership goes a long way. By working with the manufacturers to ensure the materials were received in time, AHS ensured that the pick module and storage system would be completed in time for the fall fashion season.

A & K Equipment Overcomes Bumps Along the Road

Twin City Exteriors, a company that specializes in siding, gutters and other exterior home products, was in a bind. The fire marshal had determined that its storage facility posed a fire hazard and needed to be modified. The particleboard shelves housing the siding were very flammable and they did not allow for permeation of sprinkler water in the event of a fire. Twin City, in desperate need of a solution, went to A & K Equipment Company (Maple Grove, MN)

warehouse shelves

A series of wire decks from J & L Wire Cloth made it easier for a siding company to slide material on and off its warehouse shelves.

A & K recognized the opportunity for a wire racking system that would alleviate the fire hazard created by the particleboard. The design of the new system, however, posed a serious challenge for the distributor. The existing shelves consisted of particleboard on rivet-angle shelving and were set up in a cubicle-style system, with long, narrow slots to house the 12 ft. to 16 ft. long pieces of siding and gutters. The pieces being stored were slid in and out of the compartments along the smooth particleboard. When designing the wire decking, A & K had to ensure the top wire ran the same direction as the pieces being stored, to guarantee smooth sliding. “It would be impossible to push a 16-foot-long box into the compartment if it had to bump over every wire to get in there,” says CEO Al Boston.

With the help of Josh Smith, inside sales manager, Boston went to work designing the decks. The A & K team knew it had to work quickly, because the fire marshal was awaiting a new solution. Using a CAD program, Boston designed and engineered each deck so that the wires were running in the right direction. In order to mesh together adjacent pieces, Boston left the waterfall off the deck edges. He sent his drawings to Troy Krusemark at J & L Wire Cloth to verify that such decks were practical. Krusemark ensured that they were, and after two weeks of engineering work, J & L began making samples.

DISTRIBUTOR: A & K Equipment
SUMMARY: Specially engineered wire decking satisfies the end-user—and the fire marshal.

In all, the project required nearly 400 pieces of specially designed decking in multiple sizes and 15 different patterns. Decks came in 48 in. x 48 in., 48 in. x 72 in., 69 in. x 72 in., 69 in. x 48 and 36 in. x 52 in. Production was completed in less than five weeks.

Twin City elected to install the system on its own, which meant a delay of several weeks before some of the decks were used. When it was finally discovered that a few of the pieces didn’t fit the specifications, J & L went out of its way to provide new pieces at no additional charge to the customer or to A & K. “It was a very challenging situation,” Boston says. “I don’t know of many manufacturers who could have pulled this off. But it turned out absolutely gorgeous and the customer was extremely happy.”

Applied Handling Equipment Serves and Protects

Modified rack guards

Modified rack guards from Save-Ty Yellow Products gave a customer the protection it need

Tim Colston, president of Applied Handing Equipment (Dayton, OH), was doing some follow-up work with a contractor at the site of a shoe company’s new distribution center when he found the shoe company needed some extra service. A racking and conveyor system was recently installed by a competitor, and the system was in need of some protective equipment. The racks and conveyors needed guards, and some new electrical panels needed to be installed. The narrow aisles in the warehouse, however, made it difficult to install rack guards that would not interfere with the day-to-day activity of the forklifts or the work of the picker.

In order to guard the rack without encroaching on the aisles, Colston designed some custom-made pieces of protection equipment and called on Dan Gentile, president of Save-ty Yellow Products, to provide them. “We just modified standard rack guarding and had it cut down and wrapped around the aisles to stay out of the pathways,” Colston says. “We did a lot of footwork with them at the site.”

DISTRIBUTOR: Applied Handling Equipment Company
MANUFACTURER: Save-ty Yellow Products
SUMMARY: Follow-up service yields sale for protective

Once the pieces were manufactured, Colston installed the 152 pairs of rack-end protection pieces, using three different designs of modified guards. In addition, chain barriers, bollards, column guards and some height guards were supplied, pushing the total sale upwards of $80,000.

Installation was able to be completed in June, because Save-ty was able to provide the modified pieces within two to four weeks. “They turned it around very quickly for us,” he says. “That’s what really made the sale a success.”

A Mountain of a Sale for Arpac Storage Systems

Mountain Equipment Co-Op is one of the largest sports equipment retailers in all of Canada. When it began planning a racking solution for its new 190,000 sq. ft. distribution center in Vancouver in January 2006, it contacted longtime material handling partner Arpac Storage Systems (Delta, BC, Canada). The center was needed to store non-palletized loads, such as kayaks, sleeping bags, tents and other outdoor sporting goods.

DISTRIBUTOR: Arpac Storage Systems
MANUFACTURER: DACS, Keneco, Lightning Pick, Univeyor, Schaefer
SUMMARY: Distributor prepares survival gear retailer to ride out the big quake.

Due to heavy seismic activity, the building codes in Vancouver are unusually strict—the racking system had to be able to withstand an 8.2-magnitude earthquake. Mountain Equipment wanted to go even one step further, to be operational after such a large quake in order to help citizens obtain survival gear.

The company also wanted to be in compliance with the updated requirements for sprinkler system installation, per NFPA 13. The distribution center, therefore, needed a racking system that would not only meet its storage needs, but would meet and even exceed building and fire code requirements.

At first glance, mesh decking seemed to be a viable solution. It allowed for 80 percent to 90 percent sprinkler permeation, which was well above the fire code regulations. However, the mesh deck did not meet the storage requirements for the company because smaller items would slip through the mesh and fabrics would take on the grid pattern. “Mountain Equipment had done a lot of research and actually knew what they needed, to a point,” says Phil Collins, Arpac’s project manager. Collins determined that more steel was needed in the decking, so he chose Rack Deck by DACS, which had a smooth surface for storage and still allowed for 50 percent sprinkler permeation.

Rack Deck by DACS

Seismic and fire code concerns led to the installation of 54,000 sq. ft. of Rack Deck by DACS for a Canadian sporting goods company.

With a product selected, it was up to Collins, Sales Manager Barry McLaughlin and the engineers at Arpac to design an ideal system. Mountain Equipment had hired an environmental consultant to work with the Arpac engineers in the design of the system to minimize the footprint left by the installation. “A lot of research and planning went into it,” Collins says.

After nearly two years of preparation, installation of the $1.8 million project went off without a hitch. Collins credits the manufacturers, particularly Rack Deck National Sales Manager David Swanson, for ensuring timely delivery and fulfilling the distributor’s and end-user’s needs.

All told, Arpac installed 54,000 sq. ft. of Rack Deck, a four-level, 2,100-foot Keneco carton flow system, a Lightning Pick pick-to-light system, a mezzanine-mounted conveyor system by Univeyor and plastic bins from Schaefer, all ahead of schedule. “Things went very smoothly, especially considering such a large work site,” Collins says. The true test will come if and when that earthquake ever hits—“We’re overdue!” McLaughlin says—but it’s clear that Arpac has it all under control.

Smooth Sailing for ACT

DISTRIBUTOR: Atlantic Coast Toyotalift
SUMMARY: Top-of-the-line boat lift makes marina the pride of the pier.

Ocean Isle Marina (OIM) in Ocean Isle, North Carolina, can now take its members’ boats to a whole new level. Atlantic Coast Toyotalift (Winston-Salem, NC) Territory Manager Bryan Carpenter, a boat owner himself, knows the local marinas well. Over the past 12 years, he has been providing OIM with material handling solutions out of ACT’s Wilmington, North Carolina, branch office. He helped them with everything from replacement forks and pads to equipment service and rental. By providing these services, Carpenter built a relationship with OIM, and when it came time for OIM to order a new lift truck, ACT was included in a very competitive bidding process.

Neptune M330 lift

This Hoist Neptune M330 lift raises and lowers boats at a marina on the North Carolina coast.

ACT leaned on support from one of its suppliers, Hoist, who was very active in the sale and played a key part in bringing it home. Hoist has worked with marinas for almost three years and supplied several marina lifts along the East Coast. There was no Hoist lift in the North Carolina area comparable to the one OIM needed, so ACT and Hoist flew Carpenter, Hoist Factory Representative John Kern and three representatives from OIM to Florida. From there, Kern took them to a series of Florida marinas and let the customer talk to people there who had purchased similar Hoist marina lifts.

OIM settled on a Hoist Neptune M330 marina lift. The truck has a 33,000- pound base capacity with 55 feet of vertical lift and 15 feet of negative lift for boat launching. Other features include Wi-Fi capability, an on-carriage camera to ensure boat safety and a smaller 130-inch wheelbase for increased maneuverability. Now with the help of this cutting-edge forklift, OIM, and its boats, are reaching higher than ever before.

Since the lift was delivered, word has spread quickly. ACT has quoted several other marinas, and ACT Vice President of Sales Greg Creed, from ACT’s Winston-Salem office, thinks having the lift in North Carolina will provide a good showcase for bringing these customers in. He says, “I think we’ve solidified not only a relationship with OIM, but also with the other marinas in the area.”

Atlantic Handling Slices Up the Competition

SpanTrack from UNEX Manufacturing

A cutlery importer's new facility features more than 1,150 lanes of SpanTrack from UNEX Manufacturing.

We’ve all seen the “Made in China” sticker on everything from children’s toys to heavy machinery. In order for those “Made in China” products to make it to America, however, they need to be received and distributed, and Atlantic Handling Systems (Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ) is happy to oblige.

Master Cutlery imports knives from China to its American distribution center in Seacaucus, New Jersey. It receives boxes that weigh anywhere from 50 to 75 pounds and need to be received, picked and shipped. When the company moved across the street into a new, larger facility, they contacted John Cosgrove, Atlantic Handling’s president, to do a build-and-design project.

Cosgrove had never done business with Master Cutlery, so he went to take a look at the space. Cosgrove worked with Dan Sweetman, Atlantic’s senior project engineer, and Brian Neuwirth, president of UNEX Manufacturing, to conduct a SKU analysis to determine the size and weight of the boxes that would travel through the system. “Once we did that,” Cosgrove says, “we knew UNEX SpanTrack was the answer.”

DISTRIBUTOR: Atlantic Handling Systems
SUMMARY: Distributor provides a sharp solution for a knife importer.

Cosgrove, Sweetman and Neuwirth designed a solution featuring 1,152 lanes of 12-inch wide, 93-inch deep SpanTrack. In addition, the fully integrated system included pushback, flow rack and regular selective rack, along with a tri-width conveyor by TGW-ERMANCO. Installation of the receiving, picking and shipping system was handled by Bob Manion, Atlantic’s crew foreman.

The year-long project ended up being about a $1 million job. Not bad for a first-time customer. “We just tried to go in and be an advocate for the customer, and it turned out really well for all of us,” Cosgrove says.

Bastian Is Picture Perfect

Just getting around in New York City can be a hassle. Doing a massive construction project for a retail store in the middle of the city, without disrupting business, could be a nightmare. However, for Bastian Material Handling (Indianapolis, IN), this logistical nightmare turned into a dream project.

DISTRIBUTOR: Bastian Material Handling
MANUFACTURER: United Sortation Solutions, Intelligent Packaging Systems
SUMMARY: Distributor works nights to complete unique conveyor project in the “city that never sleeps.”

B&H Photo had a problem with its Manhattan superstore and they opened the project to a competitive bidding process. The customer-hired consultant for the project, Gross & Associates, alerted Bastian’s Business Development Specialist Dave Wells, who quoted the project. The customer then conducted phone interviews with David Cederholm, Bastian project manager, and other members of the Bastian team who would be working on the project. Confident with their experience and capabilities, the customer awarded Bastian the project. Once Bastian won the bid, Cederholm went to work attacking this very unusual application.

This particular superstore had a unique design—orders were placed upstairs and then sent by computer to the 100,000 sq. ft. basement warehouse. An employee would then pick the product from the shelves and send it on a conveyor up to the salesperson. Once the salesperson completed the sale, he or she placed the product onto a second conveyor, which took the product and accompanying paperwork over to check-out. The customer never had to carry the product through the store. However, B&H’s old system contained only six lifts with a mere three access points. To make matters worse, it had become very noisy. Being that this was a retail store, aesthetics were very important.

lifts and Intelligent Packaging System

A complex system of United Sortation Solutions lifts and Intelligent Packaging Systems conveyors means that customers at a Manhattan electronics retailer never need to carry the product in the store.

Cederholm worked with Bastian Controls Engineer Derrick Oler, Design Engineer Bill Galbreath and Sales Rep Mike Butville to develop a solution that would increase both efficiency and aesthetics. The initial plan called for 18 lifts from United Sortation Solutions and a quiet coated power-roller conveyor system by Intelligent Packaging Systems. As the customer’s wants changed, the order grew bigger—the final product featured 29 lifts and approximately 1,000 feet of conveyor on four different levels. “The levels of the floors were all different. In one spot, it was nine feet to the ceiling, and it was 13 feet in another spot. We had two lifts going from the basement to the second floor that were completely different sizes,” Cederholm says.

Along the way, there were countless other logistical problems to overcome. For instance, the store never shut down—all the work had to be done at night and around the schedule of the store owners. The building had no access points to easily bring in the lifts, so they had to be brought in through a second-story window. Also, no forklifts could get into the building, so lifting up the ceiling conveyors for installation was done by hand. Not to mention that being in Manhattan, it took a lot of coordination to find hotels and transportation for the crew. Cederholm says, “It was definitely a different challenge than most projects.”

Installation was completed in five months, and planning for phases two and three is already underway. “It’s an ongoing process, but the next two phases will be much smaller than phase one was,” Cederholm says. The job might not have been easy, but it was definitely rewarding because Bastian now has one very satisfied customer.

On Deck with Bastian Material Handling

Belvidere, Illinois-based third-party logistics company had to relocate product from another facility due to issues related to the widespread flooding that blanketed the Midwest earlier this year. However, the current facility did not have enough storage locations, so the company contacted Rodger Katter, senior field sales engineer at Bastian Material Handling (Indianapolis, IN), after a referral by an existing Bastian customer.

Katter assisted the customer in designing a simple system of racking and decking, which called for approximately 1,100 positions of pallet rack over 8,000 sq. ft. of floor space, plus more than 900 pieces of wire decking. The design wasn’t especially complicated, and the rack and deck was all standard. Rack manufacturer Interlake was located very near this customer’s facility, so getting the rack quickly wouldn’t be a problem. As for the decks, Katter leaned on the previous success he’d had working with Tonya Gregory at AWP Industries. In the past, whenever BMH needed items shipped quickly, AWP had been able to respond, and this occasion was no different.

DISTRIBUTOR: Bastian Material Handling
MANUFACTURER: AWP Industries, Interlake
SUMMARY: More than 900 pieces of decking material delivered in just four days.

Katter requested quick shipment of 912 pieces of 42 in. x 46 in. wire decks. That’s a lot for a quick-ship order, and he wasn’t sure if AWP would be able to come through on an order this large. Gregory made the arrangements, however, and the material was delivered to the job site within four days.

From that point forward, Katter and BMH worked with the customer on the on-site details of the project. Installation was subcontracted out, and BMH made sure there were no hang-ups. The project was completed in July 2008.

Stability Is the Key for Cisco-Eagle

In late 2005, a Dallas, Texas-based garment provider was running out of room in its distribution center. They had an existing relationship with a local material handling provider, but that company was in the midst of some financial problems. The garment company, uncertain about the quality of service it would receive by remaining with its struggling supplier, listened to proposals from other providers.

One of those was Cisco-Eagle (Dallas, TX), who won an extensive bidding process thanks to its location close to the customer facility. “They were looking to expand without moving,” says Dan Roberge, the account executive who found out about the project. “The end-user had pretty much overgrown that building to the point where the only thing they had left was vertical space.”

SUMMARY: Financial and structural stability play central role for distributor in large mezzanine installation.

Working with Darrell Griffin, manager of product implementation, Roberge developed a design. A sortation conveyor for garments was a key piece of the installation but there wasn’t room. “They could have hung the conveyor from the ceiling, but then they would have had a problem if it jammed,” Griffin says. To eliminate that problem, Roberge and Griffin suggested a 22,441 sq. ft. equipment platform from Wildeck, which would nearly double the building’s holding capacity. The frame was used to support the conveyor system. “This was one of the largest mezzanine jobs we’d ever executed. Plus, it was a complicated design because we had to work around existing equipment underneath the platform,” Griffin explains. “We had to avoid laying columns at locations that would be inconvenient for the customer.”

That made installation tricky as well—namely, getting 25-foot spans of steel into the air over existing equipment without crushing anything. In addition, many other issues cropped up as installation continued. “There were a lot of issues that had to be worked out with the city in order to get a building permit,” Roberge says. “The floor wasn’t strong enough to hold up the platforms, so a lot of testing had to be performed by another contractor so we could get clearance to put the columns on the floor without it cracking.” Eventually, the customer decided to dig up the existing floor and pour new parts of the foundation to support the platform. Installation was performed on the second shift, one column grid at a time, to allow the customer to continue operating on first shift.

Even with all the setbacks, Roberge and his team persevered. Installation was scheduled for 90 days, but Cisco-Eagle pulled it off in 60. By the time the last bolt was tightened in September, nearly two years had passed since Roberge initially discovered the expansion. “Our knowledge of the industry and stability was the huge thing that came into play on this deal,” Roberge says. The final order came to $885,000, and the end-user has since called for additional business.

Flying High at Cisco-Eagle

MANUFACTURER: Pflow Industries
SUMMARY: Just a click away—distributor receives online order from a first-time customer.

Cisco-Eagle (Dallas, TX) proved what Internet experts have been saying for years—having a good Web site with a search engine optimization strategy in place can help generate business. In fact, it was a Web search that led contracting firm Burns and McDonnell to Cisco-Eagle.

It wasn’t as easy as click-and-order though; there was a very competitive bidding process. The sale the companies were competing over was for two large vertical reciprocating conveyors (VRCs). They had to be 8,000-pound capacity, one 52 feet tall and the other 59 feet tall. Each needed three levels with an 8 ft. x 12 ft. carriage. They were to be used in a government contractor’s plant to lift materials to workers at different level work platforms.

The most important thing to Burns and McDonnell was that whoever provided the lifts would need to provide a turnkey solution. They wanted the drawings and quoting all the way through the installation and sign-off to be done by one company. Cisco-Eagle caught a break as the three-month quoting process progressed when it was discovered that a different division of Burns and McDonnell had previously worked—with a great deal of success—with another division of Cisco-Eagle. Once that connection was revealed, the scales turned in favor of Cisco-Eagle.

They’d won the project, now came the actual execution. Cisco-Eagle Internet Business Manager Scott Howard and Internet Sales Rep Jim McGehee knew they could provide the turnkey solution the customer required, but they also knew they needed to provide a top-of-the-line product. That’s why they turned to Pflow Industries, a long-time Cisco-Eagle partner with a reputation for manufacturing quality custom VRCs.

Installation, led by Project Manager Larry Hart, of the $260,000 sale is scheduled for completion in December. “The biggest obstacle has been the strict guidelines on who can come in and do the installation. We are just a small portion of this overall project,” Howard says. As far as the customer is concerned, though, Cisco-Eagle played a huge role. “I know we weren’t the lowest bidder on this project, but due to what we had to offer with quality equipment, delivery, engineering and installation, we were able to pull it off,” says Howard.

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Timing Is Everything for Coastal Equipment

Mergers and business growth at a major Maine warehousing company led to a growing inventory, so the company needed additional racking, and time was of the essence. The warehouse company contacted Mark Goldstein, president of Coastal Equipment (Portland, ME), with whom they had done business in the past, for a quick fix.

The warehouse stored its products on the floor, leaving an enormous amount of unused airspace. With nowhere to go but up, the only solution was rack installation. Goldstein laid out a rack plan for the warehouse that would utilize the empty space, but his plan had to go through a lengthy corporate review before being approved. “By the time it got approval, the customer needed it four weeks ago,” Goldstein says. With this in mind, Coastal set to work.

DISTRIBUTOR: Coastal Equipment
MANUFACTURER: Storage Masters, Ridg-U-Rak
SUMMARY: A one-week window for delivery and installation? Mission accomplished.

Goldstein contacted Storage Masters, a wholesaler he typically calls for smaller orders. “I wasn’t sure they could pull off such a large order,” he says. Goldstein needed a trailer-load of Double-D Ridg-U-Rak pallet racking with 9-foot, 14-foot and 18-foot beams, an order he would typically get directly from the manufacturer. He also needed the racking delivered as quickly as possible. The customer had initially anticipated a six- to ten-week waiting period for delivery and installation, but Goldstein wanted to do better.

Despite the relatively large size of the order, Storage Masters’ Pete Foley was able to meet all of Coastal’s specifications. Storage Masters had all the necessary product in stock—even exceeding a few specifications at no extra charge—and was able to supply Coastal for less than the factory price. Most important, Storage Masters’ proximity to the end-user allowed for next-day shipping and saved Coastal money on freight. With the help of Storage Masters’ speedy delivery time, Coastal was able to complete the $27,000 project in July, just one week after receiving corporate approval. “We sent a crew up to complete installation that weekend,” says Goldstein. “The customer was just tickled pink that we could get it done so fast.”

Curlin Has Customer Remedy

Several hospitals in southwestern Florida are stocked and serviced by a Fort Myers-based private medical supply company. That company was using traditional rack and shelving concepts and many pickers to fulfill their orders each day, but this was a bit cumbersome. Clients were demanding faster service, higher order accuracy and an increased SKU count. In response, the company began to seek out technologies to improve its efficiency, accuracy and processing costs.

DISTRIBUTOR: Curlin Material Handling Solutions
MANUFACTURER: Diamond Phoenix
SUMMARY: Visit to other product installation sites convinces customer to buy horizontal carousels.

As part of their search, they contacted Jeremy Chapman, vice president of sales for Curlin Material Handling Solutions (Tampa, FL). Chapman and Vice President of Business Development Ron Morelli researched the company and reviewed all the data the customer could give them in order to determine the proper number of SKUs an efficient system would store. They also analyzed the speed of inventory turnover to see exactly what solutions would best fulfill the customer’s automated storage requirements.

Diamond Phoenix horizontal carousel

The single access point in this Diamond Phoenix horizontal carousel helped the end-user best utilize its space.

Based on the data, Chapman and Morelli turned to the engineering capability of System Engineer Jimmy Jones to develop the system. One hang-up—the system needed to be installed in phases as to keep the existing picking methodology functional at the same time. Plus, it needed to be in the same room. To achieve this, the Curlin team chose a series of Diamond Phoenix horizontal carousels. “The customer was already out of space,” Chapman says. “We needed something with a large storage density and a single point of access for picking and replenishment.”

In order to convince the customer, the Curlin team took them on site visits to other similar installations. In addition, Chapman points to the intense data crunching ahead of time to develop the proper slotting in the carousel as a deal clincher. “We proved the system’s worth and capability prior to gaining the order,” Chapman says. “Also, the assistance we received from Denny Arciero at Diamond Phoenix was instrumental in building the customer’s confidence. The customer was very impressed with Diamond Phoenix’s previous experience with other medical supply chain facilities.”

The final project entailed four Diamond Phoenix dual-bin horizontal carousels with speed stations, and special PowerPick transaction software. “It was very much a team effort between Curlin and Diamond Phoenix,” Chapman says.

Thanks to the team-oriented efforts from both Curlin and Diamond Phoenix, installation was completed ahead of schedule in January 2008. “A coordinated and planned installation around the customer’s operations allowed them to continue order fulfillment while we installed.”

DAK Equipment Makes a Good First Impression

DISTRIBUTOR: DAK Equipment & Engineering Co.
MANUFACTURER: Republic Storage Systems, VertiSpace, TGW-ERMANCO
SUMMARY: Distributor catches customer in its Web.

When an industrial parts company he had never heard of contacted David Kenealy, president of DAK Equipment & Engineering Co. (Elmhurst, IL), he had no idea it would lead to a successful sales relationship. The company was in search of a systems integrator in the Chicago area that could handle a large storage project. Not knowing who to go to, the company turned to the Internet, where it discovered DAK Equipment.

The project involved the design and installation of a system to store industrial parts such as gauges, pipes, fittings and the like. After giving a quote and signing some papers, DAK was ready to go to work for its newfound customer. Kenealy and Project Manager Dan Vitagliano met with the company’s facilities manager in their empty building to take a series of field measurements. The DAK team came up with several designs over the course of the following week. It took another week for the customer to make its decision, and then the DAK team went to work making the system a reality.

VertiSpace mezzanine

A 9,600 sq. ft. VertiSpace mezzanine gave the customer room for 1,600 pallet positions.

The system allowed for storage of 1,600 pallets using Republic Storage Systems pallet rack installed both on top of and beneath a VertiSpace mezzanine that measured 80 ft. x 120 ft. The plan also called for 2,500 shelf levels with seven shelves per section. All of this was integrated with a TGW-ERMANCO conveyor for order picking.

With the entire project being on a very tight schedule, it was important for the delivery and installation process to be carefully controlled. “The shelving was scheduled to get there the week after the mezzanine, and the mezzanine had to be up so we could put the shelving on it,” explains Kenealy. To manage such a complex order, Kenealy and Vitagliano used Gantt flow charts to keep everything on course.

Eight weeks later, the $340,000 project was installed on schedule in January. The customer was thrilled with the results, and has since used DAK Equipment for six more projects around the United States. The Internet is a powerful thing.

Above the Fold with Felix F. Loeb

partitioned compartments

SpaceGuard's 2180 product line was custom-designed for an Internet data center application.

A Chicago-area telecommunications company leases out space in its facility for companies to house the equipment that runs their Web sites. The data center is a clean room environment, and the space is divided into partitions based on how much space each client needs for its equipment.

This telecommunications company is a longtime client of Tim Linnane, account representative for Felix F. Loeb Inc. (Romeoville, IL). “You go into the building and see an array of different sizes of partitioned compartments. Each client has different parameters about what they need and the type of door they want on their cage.”

Typical door options include a standard sliding gate on an overhead track, or a swinging door on a hinged jamb. However, neither was a viable solution for one client at the data center, who wanted to access the full width of the entryway. Linnane worked with SpaceGuard Products Vice President of Sales Eddie Murphy and Regional Sales Manager Bob Leckie to create a third option to work for this application. “We brainstormed with the end-user and refined the door design. We took it from theoretical and unbuildable to practical and realistic,” Linnane explains. The team collaborated for six weeks on a design, finally coming up with a workable solution.

What they designed was a bi-fold door (think of a folding closet door without the overhead track) for an 8-foot opening. It has two 2-foot panels on each side that fold back into existing side panels on the cage to expose the entire 8-foot width of the entryway. It features a header bar and a caster on each side, plus a padlock latch in the middle. The door itself is made of 11/2-in. x 21/2-in., six gauge welded rectangular wire.

DISTRIBUTOR: Felix F. Loeb Inc.
MANUFACTURER: SpaceGuard Products
SUMMARY: Custom-built bi-fold door solves customer’s entryway dilemma.

Once the design was finalized, it took four more weeks to build and install the door. The entire sale was less than $1,000, but the unique door design may be applicable in other environments. “We’re looking at other applications where we need a clear opening area,” Linnane says. “Typically a sliding door needs a pocket to slide into, so you can’t access the full eight feet of clear space. This customer has been very happy, and we’re looking to incorporate this design in some different applications.”

FMH Provides Forklifts for Fencing

Forklifts for Fencing

Three 36,000-pound, Doosan D160S-5 forklifts were delivered in 10 days to help with the Department of Homeland Security's border fence project.

In an effort to deter illegal entry into the United States, the Department of Homeland Security mandated the construction of 670 miles of steel fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. The fence, a component of the Secure Border Initiative, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2008. This enormous project requires an abundance of steel and, of course, a way to handle all that steel.

FMH Material Handling Solutions (Denver, CO) was approached by a major materials company in El Paso, Texas, which was receiving approximately 200 trucks and 15 rail cars full of steel every week. In total, 10.9 million pounds of steel were delivered and needed to be moved and stored for later work on the fence. The customer called Leo Rodriguez, territory manager for FMH, from whom he had previously bought equipment and who he trusted to get the job done.

Rodriguez went to El Paso in order to get the specifications for the job. He analyzed load dimensions and load weights, and determined what needed to be done to move the steel. “The lifting heights were not an issue because they weren’t stacking very high,” Rodriguez says. “The concern was getting the material off of the 18-wheelers and rail cars efficiently.”

DISTRIBUTOR: FMH Material Handling Solutions
MANUFACTURER: Doosan Infracore America, MCFA
SUMMARY: Distributor heeds call to serve its country—but not for the military.

Rodriguez contacted the engineers at Doosan Infracore America, who were able to meet the requirements necessary to move the steel. Rodriguez worked with Gary Lawrence, Doosan sales manager, to complete the sales process with the end-user. Together, they sold three Doosan D160S-5 forklifts, each with a 36,000-pound base capacity. Rodriguez also sold one CAT D70 lift with a 15,000-pound base capacity. FMH equipped the lifts with thinner forks that would be able to accommodate the bundles of steel more easily than the factory forks. Within 10 days of taking the order, the trucks arrived in El Paso, and the customer was able to unload and store all the steel for the completion of the fence. Since completing the $400,000 sale in the spring, Rodriguez and FMH President John Faulkner continue to monitor the operation for the customer.

As of September 5, 2008, 191.6 miles of pedestrian fence and 154.3 miles of vehicle fence (346 of the proposed 670 miles) had been built. Thanks in part to the work of FMH and Doosan, fence construction continues and the project remains on schedule.

Heubel Gets It Sorted Out

Horizontal carousels from Remstar

Horizontal carousels from Remstar give one customer more than 16,000 sq. ft. of shelf space in a compact area.

American Crane & Tractor, a distributor of crane and tractor parts, had a dilemma. They were experiencing an increased demand for their product, but having difficulty efficiently filling all of their orders. Their current strategy, hiring temporary labor to run around filling orders, wasn’t cutting it, and they needed a solution. American Crane & Tractor contacted Remstar International, and Remstar, in turn, pointed them to distributor Heubel Material Handling (Kansas City, MO).

When Heubel’s division manager, Bob Gamache, went into American Crane & Tractor’s facility, the customer already knew what they wanted. They wanted to install a series of Remstar vertical lifts to speed up the picking process. Gamache, however, had something else in mind. “Based upon their application and throughput requirements, I told them horizontal carousels would be a better solution.”

The customer’s main concern involved what would happen if there was a problem with the system. Fortunately, Heubel was able to offer the assistance of a Remstar certified technician based out of their Kansas City office, ensuring the ability to provide prompt service. After several site visits and several months of designing and re-designing, they agreed on two pods of three Remstar horizontal carousels with pick-to-light technology, utilizing batch-pick processing. The total volume of storage space in the system was 9,792 cu. ft., and there was 16,170 sq.ft. of shelf space. When everything, including the carousel and the mezzanine structure for the upper pod, was complete, the total sale came to $414,651.

DISTRIBUTOR: Heubel Material Handling
MANUFACTURER: Remstar International
SUMMARY: Offering a certified technician for horizontal carousels seals the deal for distributor.

Since the carousels have gone in, the results have been outstanding. “It’s truly been very productive,” says Gamache. “In fact, the customer purchased an identical system when they set up a new office in Miami. We were able to give them a great product and a quick return on their investment, and they recognized that.”

Hy-Tek Keys In

Yale lift trucks

ID Systems' PowerKey Plus installed on Yale lift trucks have increased productivity for Xerox Corporation.

Three and a half years ago, Hy-Tek Material Handling (Columbus, OH) bid on a forklift lease deal with Xerox—and lost. While some folks may have given up, Hy-Tek saw an opportunity to make sure that the result would be different when the 44-month lease ran out.

“We stayed in touch with Xerox even though we didn’t have a truck in the distribution center,” says Senior Account Manager Dick Cornette. When Hy-Tek held a technology seminar showcasing its integrated service capabilities, they made sure a Xerox representative was present. They wanted to make sure that Xerox was aware of all the advantages working with Hy-Tek would bring—from their two-mile proximity to the distribution center to their 97 percent parts availability. The strategy worked, and, bit by bit, Hy-Tek won them over. When the lease period was up, Hy-Tek had a deal in place for a new 44-month lease of 21 Yale NR045EA stand-up electric reach trucks and the installation of 39 PowerKey Plus units from I.D. Systems.

DISTRIBUTOR: Hy-Tek Material Handling
MANUFACTURER: I.D. Systems, Yale Materials Handling Corporation
SUMMARY: Persistent customer contact, even after losing a sale, pays off with a lease agreement.

Xerox runs three shifts, and Hy-Tek provides 24-hour service. Such impressive local service capability was critical to landing the sale. Cornette also credits the quality of the Yale lift trucks and PowerKey Plus monitoring system. Hy-Tek Director of Sales Bob Lunt explains, “The PowerKey system was just so much more advanced than what they were currently using. It electronically monitors the vehicle functions, and reports any malfunctions to their management and our service department. It also forces the operators to be more accountable—such as making them perform their OSHA pre-operation checklist before the forklift will start.”

Xerox is immensely satisfied with the productivity gains they’ve seen since the switch to Hy-Tek. “Down the road, the data we gather about the actual hours the trucks are running will help us redefine their lease terms a little bit,” Lunt says. By continuing to move forward despite some initial setbacks, Hy-Tek was able to secure not only a half-million dollar sale, but also a partnership with Xerox that both Cornette and Lunt expect to provide mutual prosperity.

Customer Gets a Lift from Material Handling Inc.

DISTRIBUTOR: Material Handling Inc.
SUMMARY: Heavy-duty lift sets the table for promising sales relationship.

Nashville, Tennessee-based Mid South Wire performs all its forklift repairs in-house in a roughly 6,300 sq. ft. maintenance building. While this eliminates the need for a distributor technician to service this customer, Jason Howarth, territory manager for Material Handling Inc. (Dalton, GA) discovered another opportunity to do business with this customer.

Mid South was in need of a new lift table for performing maintenance on forklifts and other equipment. Mid South’s maintenance workers had been using the same lift table for as far back as they could remember. The table was in rough shape and needed to be replaced. Not sure who else to turn to, the company contacted its forklift provider, Material Handling Inc., and specifically requested the Lift-A-Lift made by Tilt-Or-Lift. Howarth had sold Mid South forklifts before, but had never sold a Tilt-Or-Lift product to anyone. In fact, he knew relatively little about the lift table Mid South was looking for.

Lift-A-Lift table

A Lift-A-Lift table from Tilt-Or-Lift helps an end-user perform in-house forklift maintenance.

With this in mind, Howarth called Dennis Rober, president of Tilt-Or-Lift, and asked for help. Rober was more than happy to oblige, and walked Howarth through the entire process. Howarth went to Mid South and measured the dimensions of the existing table. He sent the specs to Rober at Tilt-Or-Lift, who got back to him quickly with an accurate and competitive quote.

Howarth and Mike Sain, vice president of Material Handling Inc., submitted the quote to Mid South and made the sale of the 25,000-pound capacity Lift-A-Lift. The 12 ft. x 8 ft. x 6 ft. table was delivered to the warehouse, and in May, just eight weeks after initial contact, the repair operation was up and running with the new table.

Mid South was extremely happy with the new table, and even Howarth was impressed with the Tilt-Or-Lift product. “It’s a heavy-duty lift table. They definitely didn’t skimp on the steel at all,” he says. Tilt-Or-Lift’s quality product and service made a great impression on Material Handling Inc. and led to a blooming relationship between the supplier and distributor. “Tilt-Or-Lift made the process very easy,” says Howarth. “In the future, I will quote Tilt-Or-Lift for anyone looking to purchase a new lift table.”

Minnesota Supply Adds Extra Inches to Go the Extra Mile

There is still a lot to be said for basic care and concern for the customer. Todd Schulz, territory salesperson at Minnesota Supply Company (Eden Prairie, MN), learned this while working on a specialty product with Morse Manufacturing Company. Morse proved to Schulz that a manufacturer’s genuine desire to solve a problem can make a big impact and have a positive influence on sales.

Schulz met with a drug company’s plant manager after speaking with him on a cold call. The drum tumbler the company was using wasn’t mixing their product properly. Schulz saw that the mixer used a side-to-side motion. He introduced an end-over-end drum tumbler from Morse Manufacturing Company, which solved the company’s mixing problem. He was then presented with a slightly more difficult problem to solve.

DISTRIBUTOR: Minnesota Supply Company
MANUFACTURER: Morse Manufacturing Company
SUMMARY: Manufacturer’s response to after-the-sale issue impresses distributor.

The company was also in need of a vertical lift drum pourer that could pour powder into an elevated mixer. The machine needed to lift to a height of 113 inches, but the standard unit Schulz was familiar with couldn’t reach that high. After going to the site and completing a series of measurements, Schulz submitted his specs to Morse Account Rep Phil Mulpagano. Pete Mangowski, a Morse engineer, generated a design for a specialty pourer that was able to pour from the required 113-inch height. The vertical lift drum pourer was an SPL520-114, a modified version of the company’s 520-114 air-powered lift and tilt. In addition to modifying the capability of the lift, Mangowski equipped the model with a wider base to accommodate the increased height.

Even with the customization, manufacture and delivery of the special unit and its attachments took less than four months to complete. The $18,000 order was delivered at the end of March, and that’s when Schulz’s lesson in service came. During transit to the customer location, the device had suffered some moderate harm, primarily scratches on the paint and a damaged valve. Morse sent a can of paint and rushed a new valve to Minnesota Supply in a very timely fashion. “I was really impressed with their attitude of wanting to take care of our problem and do it quickly,” Schulz says, “and I know the customer was too.” The customer has shown its satisfaction by purchasing additional Morse products since the completion of the initial sale.

National Lift Truck Brings White Sox Monument Home

JLG lift

National Lift Truck provided a JLG lift for the opening of Champions Plaza at U.S. Cellular Field.

In April 2008, the Chicago White Sox unveiled the “Champions Plaza” outside their home stadium, U.S. Cellular Field. The baseball diamond-shaped brick plaza, located at the main entrance of the ballpark, is composed of bricks inscribed with messages from fans. At the center of the plaza stands a bronze and granite Champions Moments monument, commemorating the team’s 2005 World Series victory. The monument was completed over a span of two years by sculptor Julie Rotblatt-Armany of Highwood, Illinois.

ARS, a Chicago-area rigging company, was contracted by the White Sox to transport and erect the monument. ARS leases space in the building owned by National Lift Truck (Franklin Park, IL). Once ARS knew about the deal, they contacted sales reps at National for help with the project.

The monument was transported from the studio to U.S. Cellular Field on several different semi trucks from National Specialized Hauling, a division of National Lift Truck. Jim O’Shea, a driver for National Lift Truck, estimates the pieces he transported weighed close to 20,000 lbs.

DISTRIBUTOR: National Lift Truck
SUMMARY: Distributor scores big for Chicago White Sox.

ARS took the sections off the trucks and set them in place on a permanent base in the middle of the brick plaza. Each piece was carefully lifted with a crane and put together, much like the pieces of a puzzle. Using a JLG 20MSP stock picker provided by National Lift Truck, ARS workers aligned the monument to make everything a perfect fit. “It was a cooperative effort,” says Jacquei Deutscher, who works in marketing at National Lift Truck. “It was fun and really turned out great.”

Ogden Forklifts Makes a Joint Sales Call

The word “partnership” gets thrown around a lot when it comes to distributor-manufacturer relations, but Ogden Forklifts (Atlanta, GA) and Clark Material Handling Company recently exemplified a true partnership to secure a sale.

LP trucks

A user of LP trucks switched to the 80-volt Clark GEX30 without losing performance.

Lakeland, Florida-based Saddle Creek Corporation, a third-party logistics company, needed to replace its forklift fleet. The trucks were used in two environments—a standard 500,000 sq. ft. warehouse and a cross-dock operation for unloading trucks, staging products and reloading on the other side. Saddle Creek also wanted trucks that would be more environmentally friendly than the LP-fueled ones it currently was using.

Hank Ogden, president of Ogden Forklifts, asked Clark President Dennis Lawrence and Director of Dealer Services Scott Johnson to help him secure the sale. Lawrence and Johnson readily agreed, knowing this would be a key account to win. Together, the three paid Saddle Creek a visit and proposed a solution to the customer. Switching to electric trucks would solve their environmental concerns, but could they be productive enough? “Clark’s 80-volt model, which is new to the U.S. market, has virtually the same performance characteristics as what they were already using. That’s really what convinced them,” Ogden says.

DISTRIBUTOR: Ogden Forklifts
MANUFACTURER: Clark Material Handling Company
SUMMARY: Manufacturer management impresses distributor by making sales call to end-user.

The customer agreed to purchase six of the 80-volt, 6,000-pound capacity electric GEX30 units. In addition, they ordered 17 ECX 5,000-pound capacity sit-down electric trucks, an order of roughly $690,000. As delivery is completed in October 2008, the customer remains impressed by the teamwork of the supplier and the distributor. “People are more interested in value and service. That’s what we showed them we could provide,” Ogden says. “In all my years in the industry, I’ve never had the president of any manufacturer I represented come out and make a sales call.”

PeakLogix Stands Guard

Computer and printer industry heavyweight Hewlett-Packard had a problem with its Sandston, Virginia-based manufacturing and distribution facility. Employees were damaging building columns with powered equipment at an alarming rate. This meant some hefty repair bills for HP—repairing a single damaged column could cost between $4,000 and $10,000, and replacing a severely damaged column could cost up to $15,000. Most of the warehouse work was done by third-party logistics companies, making it difficult for HP to hold individual drivers accountable, so they needed help coming up with an alternate solution.

Enter Rick Fehan, director of procurement for PeakLogix (Richmond, VA), HP’s longtime material handling partner. During one of his routine safety audits, Fehan suggested using column sentries. These sentries, built by Sentry Protection Products, wrap around the columns and cushion any impacts, saving wear and tear on both the columns and the forklifts. The initial investment would be about $30,000 for the six-building facility. In other words, the cost would be the same as replacing two severely damaged columns. HP immediately recognized the return on investment and wanted to get the installation done as soon as possible.

MANUFACTURER: Sentry Protection Products
SUMMARY: Follow-up safety audit results in $30,000 safety sale.

Fortunately for the customer, both PeakLogix and Sentry were ready, willing and able to oblige. The first thing that needed to occur was measuring and mapping the facility’s more than 300 columns, taking into account electrical outlets, fire extinguishers and other obstacles. Once Fehan recorded all the measurements, he sent them to Sentry, who took care of the rest. Fehan gives Sentry a great deal of credit for helping make things happen. “They were very responsive, and they shipped quickly,” he says. “We had everything within a week or two and the whole job was complete not long after.” By February 2008, all the sentries were installed, and HP and its columns were under secure protection.

R.H. Brown Drills Deep

Life’s not easy, simple or clean on an oil rig. Toss that oil rig into the Pacific Ocean and things become even more complicated. To thrive in this environment, workers on the rigs need all the help they can get. Luckily, a customer who needed carts for use by a client on rigs off the coast of Korea had a pre-existing relationship with Joe Yandel, industrial sales rep at R.H. Brown Co. (Seattle, WA).


Hamilton Caster & Mfg. Co. designed and manufactured seven of these carts to withstand extreme oil rig conditions.

The customer told Yandel about the application, and Yandel relayed the information to Bob Latimer at Hamilton Caster & Mfg. Co. The customer needed compact platform trucks that could handle the extreme conditions. The compact size was an absolute must due to the cramped confines of an oil rig. Additionally, these carts needed to be able to withstand the elements out on the ocean. The three-pronged attack of heavy machinery, oil and salt water would obliterate run-of-the-mill trucks. Fortunately, neither R.H. Brown nor Hamilton proved to be run-of-the-mill companies. They were able to work side by side to make sure the project was done right.

Both Hamilton and R.H. Brown listened to customer requirements to build a fleet of seven customized, heavy duty 30 in. x 60 in. trucks. The stainless steel units are complete with towing tongues, and have capacities ranging from 2,000 to 18,000 pounds. R.H. Brown Sales and Marketing Coordinator Lorraine Goldberg credits the company’s ability to work with the manufacturer to make the sale happen. She says, “Because Joe Yandel was able to work so closely with Hamilton, we could provide the customer with some things that other dealers could not.”

This solid partnership helped deal with other challenges as the sale progressed. For example, shorter-than-expected lead times were an issue that popped up.

MANUFACTURER: Hamilton Caster & Mfg. Co.
SUMMARY: Customer makes the right call for a truck to handle the intense oil rig environment.

It addition it seems that lately the only thing more unsettled than the Pacific Ocean is the price of steel. In fact, between the time the project was initially quoted and when it was actually ordered, the price of steel had risen and the availability of that steel had dropped substantially. This meant that either the customer or the company would be paying much more than initially expected. “Definitely the price of steel was one of our big challenges. We had to adjust our profit schedule in order to meet the customer’s requirements,” Goldberg says. “We had to make it work for both sides. It was our ability to meet the customer’s price requirements along with the lead times that landed us the sale.”

All of R.H. Brown’s hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. In addition to closing the $90,000 sale, an existing relationship was strengthened. The customer has since come back to the company for another large custom order. “That’s a neat aspect of this order; the customer was so pleased with the products that we have the opportunity to bid on even more orders,” says Goldberg.

Riekes Bridges the Gap

Tram Rail system

A Cleveland Tram Rail system by Gorbel helps an agricultural sprayer maufacturer assemble its products.

In late 2007, agricultural sprayer manufacturer Hagie decided to expand its manufacturing facilities. To complete the facility, it needed an overhead crane system to move parts between two 50 ft. x 202 ft. manufacturing bays. Hagie knew it could count on its longtime material handling provider Riekes Material Handling Company (Waukee, IA), who had previously completed several successful Hagie projects, but Riekes still needed to submit a quote.

Riekes Material Handling Sales Representative Gary McCall called on Gorbel Inc. Sales Rep Steve Schweitzer for help designing two assembly bays—the sub-assembly bay and the final assembly bay. Parts would need to be moved regularly between the two bays. McCall and Schweitzer enlisted the assistance of Gorbel’s “Crane Brain” design system, which allowed them to plug in the components and the specifications to draw up assemblies during the quoting stage.

DISTRIBUTOR: Riekes Material Handling Company
MANUFACTURER: Gorbel Inc., Magnetek, Harrington
SUMMARY: Distributor and manufacturer generate multiple designs to give customer ideal crane system.

Using this method, McCall determined that the best system for Hagie would be Gorbel’s Cleveland Tram Rail system with its patented Tarca track, which features a smaller bottom flange made from hardened steel. The hardened steel won’t flex or bend and reduces wear on the crane’s end trucks.

Once they decided what route to go, McCall and Schweitzer put together a presentation for Hagie explaining the benefits of the system. “We provided them with detailed drawings of the two crane systems before they had to make any final decisions,” McCall says. “We were ready right then to present the contractors with weight and load point calculations, so we could lay the design right into their building layout in the planning phase.”

Such preparation paid off, as Hagie decided to go with Riekes for the $237,500 project. The final assembly area featured a powered crane system with hoist-powered runways with five 11/2-ton bridges. The sub-assembly was a ceiling-mounted system that included six mixed-capacity workstation bridges—three of which were 1/2-ton capacity and three that were 11/2-ton capacity. “It worked well for final assembly because we were able to put multiple bridges on one long runway system,” McCall explains. In addition to the Cleveland tram rails, the system included electromotive rails from Magnetek and Harrington electric chain hoists.

Sunbelt Beats Out the Big Boys

LP forklift

Komatsu FG25ST-16 5,000-pound cushioned-tire LP forklifts with Cascade carton clamps get the job done for a manufacturer of electronics.

Generally, when massive retail operations make large-scale forklift purchases, they go straight to the manufacturer. Recently, though, a large national electronics and appliance manufacturer found out that going through a distributor has its advantages.

Sunbelt Industrial Trucks (Dallas, TX) Rental Manager Bill Ball had been working with the retailer’s Fort Worth, Texas, distribution center for some time when he found out the company was in the market for 18 to 20 new forklifts. He asked to bid on the project, and the distribution center told him he could. Even though Sunbelt had the permission to bid, Territory Manager Matt Maddock knew receiving the order was unlikely. “Everybody was a long shot at that point, except for the current provider,” he says. Sunbelt promised that they could increase the customer’s efficiency and provide very customer-focused service. These promises won the job for Sunbelt; now they needed to deliver on their promises.

Fortunately for Sunbelt, they were able to prove their worth. Sunbelt delivered the Komatsu FG25ST-16 5,000-pound cushioned-tire LP forklifts with Cascade carton clamps. The clamps needed to be pressure-regulated as to not crush the delicate electronics. Once the forklifts were delivered, Sunbelt stayed attentive to the customer’s needs. “We had our mechanic, Adolfo Galvan, and Customer Service Sales Rep Randell Hiltbrunner at the customer’s location on an almost-daily basis to make sure they were up and running,” Maddock says. “These two professionals helped the customer confirm that they picked the correct forklift from the right dealer, and they’ve never been happier with the forklifts and service we provide.”

DISTRIBUTOR: Sunbelt Industrial Trucks.
MANUFACTURER: Komatsu Forklift U.S.A., Cascade Corporation
SUMMARY: Exemplary customer service initiates dealer-managed national account.

With the new forklifts in use, the distribution center was cutting costs while dramatically improving efficiency—and the corporate office was taking notice. They contacted the distribution center and tried to find out how their numbers were so much better than the other distribution centers nationwide. The answer was simple, according to Maddock, “The manager reported that his numbers were so good because of the guys at Sunbelt. He said, ‘The equipment is great and so is the overall maintenance of the account.’” This rave review led the retailer to call on Sunbelt to provide each of their seven national distribution centers with the same trucks and clamps.

The account ended up having 120 trucks under full maintenance agreements—upwards of a $4 million dollar sale. Service is being provided to each DC through the local Komatsu dealer. Normally, Komatsu would handle an account of this size directly, but Sunbelt President Bill Rowan was able to convince Komatsu that the best way to win the account was through Sunbelt. Thanks to the great working relationship the two companies have with each other, the chance for what is essentially a dealer-managed national account came to be. Rowan believes the extraordinary teamwork is what made everything possible. “This is just a terrific example of teamwork, and not just within our staff,” he says. “Without Komatsu Vice President of Product Support Jeff Powell and Cascade Regional Sales manager Doug Walker doing such a great job, the order never would have been secured.”

Storage Solutions on Solid Ground

DISTRIBUTOR: Storage Solutions
SUMMARY: Distributor and supplier work in harmony to overcome logistical and structural issues at a musical instrument distribution center.

Storage Solutions (Westfield, IN), recently found out that not all projects start on a solid foundation—they just have to finish on one. A Kansas City-based music retailer had just acquired a competitor’s business and needed a place to handle distribution of the new product. Rather than build an entirely new facility, the music retailer decided to build a second level in their existing distribution center.

To construct the mezzanine, the company turned to Storage Solutions, who had installed racking in another of the company’s DCs and had a longstanding relationship with the music retailer’s sister company. “Because we had performed well for them in the past, we were chosen for this particular project,” explains Storage Solutions Vice President of National Accounts Eric McDonald. With dimensions of 216 ft. x 300 ft., the 64,800 sq. ft. mezzanine was designed to stand 15 feet off the ground.


A 65,000 sq. ft. Wildeck mezzanine helps a customer keep its rhythm.

However, there were plenty of challenges to overcome before the $1.9 million project would come to fruition. For instance, the retailer didn’t have much space for staging equipment, so Storage Solutions had to work closely with its supplier, Wildeck, Inc., to develop a shipping strategy. Wildeck sent the equipment pieces at a time based on the agreed-upon installation schedule. Additionally, this facility was open 24 hours a day, six days a week. The construction couldn’t conflict with that schedule, and that meant installing in the same areas where employees were working.

Along with the logistical challenges, Storage Solutions faced a major structural obstacle. The soil that the distribution center was built on wasn’t solid enough to build more on. McDonald knew they would have to do plenty of concrete and footer work before the project could start, but that wasn’t all they would have to do. “We had to drill two helical piers at each interior mezzanine column, and then one more at the perimeter mezzanine columns. Then we had to go in and pour our footings over top of that.”

Despite all of these challenges, Storage Solutions and Wildeck were able to get the job done well within their eight-week deadline. In the end, all three parties involved were singing a happy tune.

TriFactor Finds It’s Easy Being Green

Motorized Drive Roller conveyor

Installation of 24-volt Motorized Drive Roller conveyor from Hilmot Corp. reduced an end-user's carbon footprint.

For Exactech, a Gainesville, Florida-based manufacturer and distributor of orthopedic implant devices and surgical instrumentation to hospitals and physicians, the mission was simple: improve its labor-intensive handpicking system to fulfill orders faster and more efficiently, all while establishing an energy-saving, “eco-friendly” workplace for its more than 200 employees. Execution, however, was more complex.

When Brad Radcliffe, system sales engineer at TriFactor (Lakeland, FL), heard the mission, he sprung into action. The initial plan called for a new conveyor system to be installed in Exactech’s existing 12,000 sq. ft. warehouse. However, it soon became apparent to Radcliffe that the project needed more room. “We established during our Needs Analysis that there was not sufficient warehouse space for hand-picking,” Radcliffe says. “A shift to the 25,000 sq. ft. facility Exactech acquired in 2005 would allow for total reengineering of the distribution operation and still be efficient in a small space.”

Exactech decided the timing was right for a move because more space was needed to handle added order volume, as business had been rapidly growing for several consecutive months. TriFactor designed and installed more than 1,200 feet of 24-volt Motorized Drive Roller (MDR) conveyor system from Hilmot Corp., which was able to accumulate on the inclines and declines and, thus, utilize a smaller footprint. The new system allowed incoming product to be segmented and sorted to four separate workstations, where it could then be transported to a pick location for distribution. This increased Exactech’s picking and replenishment efficiencies by 200 percent and its receiving capacity by 400 percent. The customer was very pleased with the system, which wound up being 40 percent to 60 percent more energy efficient than the previous operation. Plus, it was 45 percent quieter, reducing work noise to 60 decibels. “The customer’s employees absolutely love it. Verbal communication is not hampered and it does not have a warehouse/factory feel to it,” Radcliffe says.

SUMMARY: Customer “saves green” when distributor implements green solutions.

A final touch was the addition of special lighting. Exactech wanted to reduce its lighting expenses, but with employees in all parts of the warehouse at all times, motion sensors served no real purpose. To complement the “green” conveyor installed by TriFactor, Exactech continued the theme by implementing a zoned lighting system configured to light support areas as needed. They also installed a high-gloss floor to reflect more light, meaning the company will use less light overhead and further reduce their energy consumption.

It all added up to a $1.1 million “material handling investment” managed by TriFactor. “When we work on a design/build basis, we secure bids on behalf of the buyer and then make our recommendations,” says TriFactor President Jack Phelan. “Hence, we consider it managing their investments in their equipment.”

The customer couldn’t be happier. Kevin Godwin, Exactech’s director of consumer operations, says, “We are a growing company and don’t have unlimited access to funding; we can’t keep going back to the well. I needed a company that could come in on time and on budget. I only had one shot at this, and TriFactor hit it right on target.”

Trius Industries Rolls with the Punches

A major hair care company was in need of an improved conveyor system at its Blaine, Minnesota, distribution center to increase throughput and handle multi-sized boxes. The existing system only had the capability to handle boxes of four different sizes. The boxes being shipped, however, were of a wide variety of sizes, ranging from 4 in. x 4 in. to 161/2 in. x 24 in. The company called on its regular material handling provider, Trius Industries (Lino Lakes, MN) and Vice President Bob Bachmann.

DISTRIBUTOR: Trius Industries
SUMMARY: One-day installation of conveyor system leaves customer satisfied and confident.

Bachmann and his team had installed the existing system, so they were familiar with the layout of the facility. Rather than reengineer the whole system, Trius decided to modify and customize the existing design. Bachmann called on John Poole, factory representative at Automotion, who handled most of the design and engineering.

Together, Bachmann and Poole added additional belts to the motor-driven roller, which allowed the system to accommodate the smaller boxes. A pusher was also added in order to justify everything to the inside reel. The system, which was originally quoted to process six boxes per minute, moves about 16 boxes per minute, and also allows picked items to be sent directly to the delivery truck, rather than being gathered by hand.

Automotion conveyors

Automotion conveyors move 16 different sized boxes per minute for a hair products distributor.

The new solution features 53-foot extendable belt conveyors from Automotion and uses integrated software to send any item to any lane at any time, giving the distributor increased flexibility. In order to complete the job before its originally quoted completion date of mid-July, Trius leased out extra space in the customer’s warehouse to preassemble most of the system. This pre-assembly allowed Trius to install the system in just 24 hours, meaning that the entire job took just more than three months from start to finish. “The day we turned it on was the day they had to start running production,” Bachmann recalls. “On the third day, the gentleman we’d been working with went on vacation. So he must have had pretty high confidence that the system was working properly.”

The $1.2 million sale was completed on schedule, and it has worked so well that the customer has since indicated interest in an expansion to the system.

TMHNC Produces Big Results


Truckloads of Toyota 8FGU30 and 7FBCU30 forklifts meet the needs of organic food supplier Earthbound Farm.

TMHNC Produces Big Results Sometimes all it takes to make a big sale is a simple presentation of facts, as Rod Streiff, account manager at Toyota Material Handling Northern California (Hayward, CA), can attest.

Two years ago, TMHNC got its foot in the door at Earthbound Farm when the company acquired five Toyota forklifts. Earthbound is a seasonal produce company that distributes organic produce out of San Juan Batista, California, for seven months out of the year. The other five months the company operates out of its Yuma, Arizona, facility. Once Toyota had representation at Earthbound, Streiff began to take a look at the company’s operations, and eventually discovered an enormous opportunity for both Earthbound and TMHNC.

Streiff took a couple of trips to Yuma, where he toured the facility, asking questions and making suggestions. He discovered that the company had been renting all its equipment for nearly 11 years. The company typically rented 60 to 70 pieces of equipment each year. At up to $1,800 a month for just one piece of equipment, this was a very expensive undertaking. Streiff used the sale of a three-wheel electric truck with a quad mast as a launch point to discuss buying versus renting. He pointed out that by purchasing or leasing its entire fleet from TMHNC rather than renting, Earthbound would greatly reduce its equipment cost. Streiff showed Earthbound the numbers and drew attention to what they would save, and Earthbound decided to buy.

DISTRIBUTOR: Toyota Material Handling Northern California
MANUFACTURER: Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A., Inc., Hoist, JLG, Nilfisk-Advance, PosiCharge Fast Charge Systems, Brudi Bolzoni
SUMMARY: Distributor shows customer how spending $3.3 million can save money.

Earthbound eventually purchased 63 new Toyota forklifts of various models, three P330 33,000-pound forklifts from Hoist, a JLG Landoll G5-18A telehandler and an Advance Exterra sweeper. TMHNC also sold the company a PosiCharge battery package and 21 Brudi Bolzoni single-double forklift attachments. When all was said and done, the sale totaled roughly $3.3 million.

With the help of its manufacturers, TMHNC was able to have all the equipment delivered to San Juan Batista in roughly 60 days, much quicker than the average lead time for such a large order. To help facilitate quick turnaround, Streiff and his team of Branch Manager Don McPherson, Sales Manager Lance Gorman and Industrial Cleaning Specialist Rick Morrill placed many of the orders before the deal was completed. “With a deal this big, everyone was in agreement about being proactive,” Streiff explains.

Before the purchased equipment arrived, however, TMHNC needed to provide some temporary equipment. Rental Manager Teddy Ghaston was able to coordinate everything needed, and it was waiting in San Juan Batista when Earthbound returned to that facility from Yuma. “This whole sale was a team effort. Everyone was instrumental in setting up the demos and helping me coordinate everything,” Streiff says. “It was a full-on success story.”

Warner Specialty Products Goes Above and Beyond

small lift cart

The Mule with forks from Beyond Products was customized to meet the needs of one of Warner Specialty Products' largest customers.

Warner Specialty Products (Cheshire, CT) recently became a dealer of a new type of lift from Beyond Products called The Mule. The specialty lift is relatively new to the market, leading to many opportunities for both the distributor and the supplier.

The Mule is a small lift cart, all-in-one stacker, transporter and work positioner. One of Warner’s largest customers, a maker of transportation equipment, stores some of its spare parts in large, heavy plastic bins throughout its warehouse. The bins are typically 24 to 30 inches wide and stand about 20 inches off the ground. The parts that these bins hold range from 50 to 125 pounds. The customer had been using forklifts and large hand trucks to move the bins around their warehouse, but those were excessive for such small-sized bins. The company wanted something that would be more efficient as well as more environmentally friendly.

Warner Sales Representative Dave Messina showed the customer a sample of the base Mule cart from Beyond Products. The base product would work, but Messina worked with Beyond to introduce a demo lift with forks. Messina obtained the dimensions of the containers used by the customers and sent them to Beyond. Beyond took this a step further and actually purchased one of the containers. The container was brought in and a set of forks was custom-built to perfectly fit the notches on the bottom of the container. The custom-built forks are 22 inches wide and 19.5 inches long. In addition, the forks are equipped with rollers to allow the bins to slide right on, and are finished with a special coating to avoid plastic-on-metal contact.

DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Specialty Products
MANUFACTURER: Beyond Products
SUMMARY: When forklifts fail, distributor suggests a mule

After only three weeks of using the customized Mule, the customer placed an order for three more of the lightweight trucks. “They are very happy because The Mule leaves a much smaller footprint in the factory and is customized for their exact application,” says Jack Norton, president of Warner. “It looks and works great in their facility.”

Wisconsin Lift Truck Proves Paying a Premium Prevents Problems

Sometimes you have to pay money to save money. This concept is what landed Wisconsin Lift Truck (Brookfield, WI) and Steel King Industries a major job. By convincing the customer to pay a premium for a quality product, the salespeople ultimately saved the end-user a bundle of money.

Dave Brueckner, material handling systems manager for Wisconsin Lift Truck, had heard about an expansion to a major food and drink supplier’s warehouse during conversation with colleagues. He sent Regional Sales Manager John Bourke, Fleet Sales Representative Mark Elfe and Kurt Larson, WLT’s Steel King sales representative, to the warehouse to meet with management and discuss racking options for the warehouse.

During their tour of the facility, Larson noticed a repairman working, cutting and welding the rack. He asked about the repairman and learned that the worker came once every few weeks to fix the racks. Warehouse workers had been hitting the racks with forklifts frequently, costing the company roughly $7,000 per month in repairs.

DISTRIBUTOR: Wisconsin Lift Truck
MANUFACTURER: Steel King Industries
SUMMARY: New rack and protection equipment send end-user’s repairman packing.

Larson and the WLT reps pointed out that the company could decrease necessary repairs by investing in higher-quality rack and products designed to prevent rack damage. Larson also suggested column cores and rack guards to prevent damage to the racks. After discussing the options available, the team recommended the warehouse invest in Steel King rack to replace the damaged existing rack. The three demonstrated that, in the long run, the higher initial cost would be offset by eliminating the need for repairs, and by installing the column cores and guards suggested by Larson, the warehouse would also prevent future damage. “These suggestions are what really got us the job despite a higher price,” says Brueckner.

A total of 875 tons of Steel King SK2000 tubular rack, consisting of 2,444 uprights, 22,132 beams, 66,396 pallet supports, row spacers and other accessories went into the installation, which took place in two phases throughout 2007. The new racks have been in for more than a year, and have not needed a single repair.

“The neat thing is, besides the rack, we’ve been able to get in and service their mobile equipment,” Brueckner says. “They saw the job we did for them on the rack and gave us a chance to demonstrate our ability in other areas.” It just goes to show the value of a good first impression.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association


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