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We’re Still Here

It’s bleak out there. The daily headlines describe the casualties of the current economic climate: Layoffs. Closings. Lost Sales. No Sales. Downsizings. You know the list.Some companies have figured out a way to hit the mark. They know there is no time to relax or to rest. That era is over. They understand that a mutual commitment between distributor and manufacturer is the only thing they can be sure of in order to achieve sales success.

In this, The MHEDA Journal‘s annual Sales Success issue, we salute these companies that get it.

To view a particular distributor, click their name below, or simply scroll down through the article.
Advanced Equipment Company
AHS, Inc.
Aloi Materials Handling
Atlantic Handling Systems
Cardinal Carryor
Fred Hill and Son
Indoff Inc.
KMH Systems
Liftech Equipment Companies
The Miner Corporation
Oram Material Handling Systems
Peach State Integrated Technologies
Skarnes Inc.
South Atlantic Systems Group
Virginia Forklift
W&H Systems
Wisconsin Lift Truck
Yale Lift Trucks of Florida & Georgia

Virginia Forklift Services Its Way to a Sale

DISTRIBUTOR: Virginia Forklift
SUPPLIER: Narrow Aisle Inc.
SUMMARY: Quality service and responsiveness convince customer to change distributors.

“If you take care of your customers, they’ll take care of you,” says Peele Dunn, president of Virginia Forklift (Richmond, VA). A recent sale he made with a local truck body supplier proves his point.

The customer manufactures truck bodies and delivers the entire package, which sometimes includes a truck-mounted forklift, to its customers. The manufacturer had previously bought used Navigator truck-mounted forklifts from an out-of-state dealer. However, as the aging used units began to require increased maintenance, the customer called the dealership from which the trucks were bought. To the customer’s surprise, their request for service support was denied. “That really put a bad taste in the customer’s mouth,” says Dunn.

A Navigator truck-mounted forklift from Narrow Aisle met the need for a maker of truck bodies.

Upon hearing of the situation, President Warren Cornil and Sales Manager Jeff Fisher of Narrow Aisle Inc., the manufacturer of the Navigator trucks, called on Dunn and Virginia Forklift for help. “Navigator asked us to do them a favor and service the customer. They’ve been good people to work with over the years, so we said we would take care of it,” Dunn says. “They really take care of their dealers and their customers.”

Virginia Forklift performed the service, to the delight of the end-user. So happy was the customer, in fact, that it purchased two new RT6500 Navigator reach trucks with extended 8-ft. forks. “They were happy with our service and also thrilled to find out that they could purchase Navigator trucks from a local dealer,” Dunn explains. Harper Alexander, sales and aftermarket manager for Virginia Forklift, also helped secure the sale. “The quality of the service we gave along with the fair pricing and our local location made them decide that it was a better value to buy from us,” Dunn explains.

 

The service was performed in May 2009, and the new trucks were delivered in August to complete the $90,000 sale, and a new relationship is in full bloom. No bad for an unexpected service call.


Skarnes Speeds Things Up

DISTRIBUTOR: Skarnes Inc.
SUPPLIER: Hamilton Caster & Mfg. Co., HTS Fabricators
SUMMARY: High-capacity carts get job done in the nick of time.

In the material handling industry, there are rush orders and then there is the feat that Skarnes Inc. (Plymouth, MN) was asked to pull off by a customer in Plymouth, Minnesota. The customer, an air conditioner manufacturer, was preparing to open a new assembly plant, and the CEO of the company announced a surprise visit. This meant that they had to get all of the machines put together much faster than initially anticipated. They had truckloads of heavy equipment coming in constantly but lacked a way to get it where it needed to be. The customer considered hiring a rigging company to handle things, but it proved to be too expensive. That’s when they turned to Skarnes, who had assisted them with other aspects of the plant.

32 of these high-capacity HTS Fabricators carts with Hamilton casters were produced in less than a week.

Skarnes approached the problem knowing the customer needed carts, but wasn’t sure exactly what kind. With only six business days until the CEO’s visit, Skarnes contacted longtime fabrication partner Glen Chelberg, president of HTS Fabricators. Chelberg was a former employee, and Skarnes President Paul Wanous had the utmost trust in him. After researching the application and coming up with some design ideas, Chelberg presented Skarnes with a 24 in. x 24 in. x 1 in. metal cart. Wanous liked the design and immediately put HTS to work producing 32 of the carts.

Now Skarnes needed to figure out what kind of wheels they were going to mount these carts on. To handle this, they turned to Steve Lippert, executive vice president of Hamilton Caster. Lippert knew exactly what would do the trick-a short, high-capacity, dual-wheel caster. The problem was, Hamilton only had eight such casters in stock-they needed 136. Lippert sprung into action, putting several employees on an overnight shift to fabricate the additional 128 casters. By the next morning, they were done and loaded on a one-day delivery truck from Ohio to Minnesota. By the time they got to Skarnes, the paint was still soft and had yet to fully cure.

Time was running out, so to get the carts assembled as quickly as possible, Chelberg personally drove the carts directly to Skarnes’ offices. Then, Chelberg, Paul Wanous, Skarnes Vice President Dave Wanous and several of the company’s salespeople did the final assembly in the shop, finishing an hour before the end-user was to receive the carts.

 

In the end, everything came together beautifully. The carts were delivered on time, they fit the application perfectly and, above all, the customer was extremely satisfied and overly appreciative of the efforts of Skarnes, Hamilton and HTS. Had there been one weak link in the chain, the whole project could have fallen apart-but Skarnes and its suppliers were determined to make sure that it didn’t happen.


Overhead Cranes Are the Answer for Aloi

DISTRIBUTOR: Aloi Materials Handling
SUPPLIER: Gorbel
SUMMARY: Three crane systems work together to improve metal fabricator’s efficiency.

The industry adage says that material handling is a relationship business. That’s never been proven more clearly than in the case of Aloi Materials Handling (Rochester, NY) and its recent installation for one of its longtime customers.

WesLor Enterprises is a custom metal fabricator for manufacturers throughout the Northeast. WesLor also has been a supplier to Aloi over the years, and the two have built a nice relationship. When WesLor made the decision in February 2008 to build its new 40,000 sq. ft. facility in Lyons, New York, they approached Aloi President Jeff Gambrill for help designing a complex overhead crane system.”They called us and asked if we’d like to take a look at their plans and give some recommendations,” Gambrill says. He did so and saw a challenging and complex requirement. The cranes needed to traverse the entire length of the building, go over the top of an in-plant office and be set up to carry fabricated metal from individual workstation to individual workstation.

Here’s where those relationships come in handy again-as the top Northeast distributor for Gorbel, Gambrill knew just who to call. “We took a look at the customer site and decided cranes from Gorbel would be a good fit.” Gambrill worked with Gorbel Application Engineer William Fix and Regional Sales Manager Tim Laughlin to design the correct system to meet the customer’s needs. “Gorbel has a great online software system called Crane Brain that allows us to calculate all kinds of different dimensions and requirements,” Gambrill says. “That was very handy because the customer wanted a quick return on their investment and had a certain budget to stay within. Working with Gorbel really helped us optimize the design.”

An overhead push-pull crane system from Gorbel allows users to move fabricated metal between workstations.

The group came up with three separate crane systems. In the middle of the plant is a five-ton crane system with 150-ft. runways. On each side of that is a ceiling-suspended system with a 150-ft. Gorbel Series 4000 runway and three 34-ft., one-ton steel bridges. “It’s a unique system,” Gambrill says. “The hook height is 20 ft. in the air and these are actually push-pull bridges, which is unusual for such a high system.” The hook height needed to be 20 ft. in order to be able to pass over an in-plant modular office. “We had to work closely with the building architect to figure out the proper structural support we needed from the ceiling,” Gambrill says.

At the end of one of the ceiling-suspended systems is a free-standing Gorbel workstation crane that features a two-ton, 34-ft. bridge on a 50-ft. runway. “This system is designed to allow workers to place raw materials on a plasma burn table for cutting and then remove the scrap. The system actually straddles the plasma burn table,” Gambrill says.

It was a complex project, and the final screw was tightened in early spring 2009, with installation done by both Aloi and WesLor personnel. “We have our own installation crew, which was another reason they chose us for this project,” Gambrill says.

 

In its old facility, WesLor used a combination of cranes and fork trucks to move metal fabrications from workstation to workstation, and early results with the new system have shown dramatically improved efficiencies and lower costs. The Gorbel portion of the project totaled about $120,000, running the final amount, including the five-ton centerpiece crane, to roughly $175,000. “It was a significant investment for the customer during a down economy, but improved efficiency has put WesLor in a strong position when business starts to rebound,” Gambrill says.



AHS Goes With the Flow

DISTRIBUTOR: AHS, Inc.
SUPPLIER: Mallard Manufacturing, Interlake Mecalux
SUMMARY: Manufacturer gives distributor lead on racking and pallet flow project.

For material handling companies, finding customers is one of the most challenging parts of the business. Fortunately for AHS (Cincinnati, OH), Mallard Manufacturing had its back. Kevin Risch, Mallard’s president, approached Matt Witte, AHS project manager, and Jeff Miller, AHS’s vice president of engineering, with a lead.

Risch had spoken with an OEM company in the automotive industry in need of some assistance. The customer wanted to maximize its warehouse space and was looking for a way to densely store finished goods and raw materials in a first-in, first-out setting.

Witte and Miller were interested, and they followed Risch’s lead. The customer already had a good idea what they wanted to purchase, so Witte and Miller set out to engineer the best way to make it happen. The solution they came up with was 60 lanes of Interlake racking with Mallard pallet flow rails. Each lane measured 55 ft. in length-a grand total of 3,300 linear ft. of Mallard pallet flow rail with 2-in. roller centers to allow for various sizes of product to be stored. The rails featured narrow-roller centers to enable flow of various sized packages and provide future expansion capabilities. Pallet separators and brakes were also included to avoid product damage.

 

The customer loved the idea, but there was one more hurdle to be cleared. “The customer requested specific terms,” says Witte. “It had to be payment net 30 days from shipment of equipment.” In today’s economic climate, that’s not something every manufacturer is willing to do. “Mallard really stepped up,” says Witte. “With the reality of the current credit market, most manufacturers want a significant deposit up front. Mallard was willing to front the equipment, and that’s what won us the deal.”



Indoff Creates Open Spaces for Harley

DISTRIBUTOR: Indoff Inc.
SUPPLIER: Cogan Wire & Metal Products
SUMMARY: A late-in-the-installation redesign is no problem for distributor.

There’s no business like repeat business. Just ask Allen Peterson, sales partner with Indoff Inc. (St. Louis, MO).

Peterson had a pre-existing sales relationship with Harley Davidson of Pensacola, having supplied shelving units several years ago. Thanks to the quality of the previous work, when Harley Davidson needed more space, the owner once again called on Peterson for help.

Harley Davidson needed more floor space to store assembled motorcycles, while at the same time creating a workspace for mechanics to perform service. “We went over and did a site survey, and it was pretty easy to determine what was necessary,” Peterson says. Two mezzanines from Cogan Wire & Metal Products, one on each side of the room, would provide the additional floor space that the customer needed.

The slide gate on a Cogan mezzanine was moved after installation began, requiring some quick maneuvering by Indoff.

The smaller of the two mezzanines is 22 ft. x 32 ft. and stands 8 ft. 3 in. off the ground. The larger mezzanine is 51 ft. x 30 ft. and stands 9 ft. 6 in. to accommodate the mechanics’ workspace underneath. “Mechanics would be working below the larger mezzanine, so they needed the extra clearance to accommodate the lifting equipment,” Peterson explains. Both mezzanines are designed to support 125 lbs. of weight per sq. ft., so there would be no issue with storing motorcycles up top.

“The only other way to achieve this much additional floor space would have been for the customer to add on to his building. This was a much more cost-effective alternative and made it very easy to justify the expenditure,” Peterson says.

After Peterson and John Lambert, vice president of sales for Cogan, collaborated to get the specs correct, Cogan quickly submitted drawings. “Once the customer agreed that he wanted to move forward, it was really pretty easy,” Peterson says. The material was delivered within five weeks.

If the design was the easy part, the installation turned out to be more difficult. First, there were columns along one wall, so Peterson and his installers had to cut out several openings to keep the mezzanine snug against the wall. More problematic, the customer decided to change the location of the loading area after installation of the mezzanine had begun, which meant moving the location of a sliding gate about 15 ft. to the right. After a few consults with Cogan engineers, Peterson was able to fit the pieces together differently without any re-engineering. “Cogan’s install-friendly handrail design coupled with our installation expertise enabled us to move the sliding gate without having to order any extra parts or increase the cost,” Peterson says.

 

Even with the changes, the whole $50,000 project still only took a week to install. The customer has been so satisfied with the system that it is now a showcase piece. “The customer actually allows us to bring in other potential customers to show off the system,” Peterson says. “It’s been tremendous for what he needed it to do.”


KMH Backs Baekgaard

DISTRIBUTOR: KMH Systems
SUPPLIER: Yale Materials Handling Corporation, Hytrol Conveyor Company, Mecalux
SUMMARY: Innovative warehouse design strategies equal big savings for the customer.

Scott Eggenberger, corporate vice president for sales & marketing at KMH Systems (Dayton, OH), had worked with Baekgaard Ltd. while working for another distributor prior to joining KMH. So when he heard the company was looking for a distributor to help lay out their new facility, he set out to win the job. “I went there and pitched them on why my new company was the right one for them,” says Eggenberger.

Eggenberger ended up winning the business by proposing a solution that was different from what Baekgaard had first envisioned. “Initially, they were looking at pushback rack for the pallet storage, but I knew we could do better than that,” says Eggenberger. Instead, he proposed using straight double-deep Mecalux pallet storage rack. To compensate for not having the push-back capability, they would use a Yale NDR035EA narrow aisle, double-deep lift truck with a camera mounted on the fork for easy picking at high altitudes. The truck upgrade cost about $10,000 more than a standard model, but the rack cost was about $70,000 less than what the customer had initially suggested.

Eggenberger also saved the customer money on its lift equipment by replacing the two batteries and changing station in the initial layout with an opportunity-charge system that meant the battery never had to leave the truck. “I think these modifications were a big reason we got the deal,” says Eggenberger. “Our ideas and the capabilities of the manufacturers that we represent enabled us to offer something above and beyond what they expected.”

Double-deep Mecalux pallet storage rack allows for picking at tall storage heights.

In total, the design included 700 total pallet positions in the pallet storage area. The pick area boasts 12 bays of pallet flow and 1,260 lanes of carton flow on the bottom level, with an additional 576 pallet positions above. The shipping area features four packing stations, each with a 10-ft. spurt of Hytrol gravity conveyor to aid in product transport. KMH worked closely with Briner Building, the builder of the warehouse, to ensure that both of their projects fit together smoothly. “For instance,” says Eggenberger, “all of the lighting is directly over the aisles because we were able to provide the builder with a CAD layout of the racking before the lighting was installed. The customer was very appreciative of that design.”

The system went in at the end of 2008 and, thus far, the results have been staggering. Baekgaard’s 30,000 sq. ft. facility is four times bigger than their previous home, but it is holding eight times more inventory. The efficiency of the design also enabled the company to significantly increase throughput without adding staff.

 

The project was a complete success, and there is one major reason why-teamwork. From KMH’s relationship with the builder, to their close collaboration with Yale, Hytrol and Mecalux, every party played a significant role in this classic sales success. Eggenberger knows this, readily admitting that without Mecalux’s ability to stay cost-competitive, Hytrol’s ability to ship quickly and the high quality of the Yale product line, this wouldn’t have been possible.


Advanced Equipment Shows Its Logic

Advanced Equipment Company (Charlotte, NC) Sales Engineer Charlie Williamson had been working with a major food producer in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area for about nine years when one of its senior staffers was transferred to the Raleigh, North Carolina, plant. The existing relationship in Charlotte allowed Advanced Equipment Sales Engineer Ivar Lonon, who was based in Raleigh, to get inside the plant and talk to the customer, an opportunity he had coveted for years.

DISTRIBUTOR: Advanced Equipment Company
SUPPLIER: Hytrol Conveyor Company
SUMMARY: New conveyor system sweetens the deal for local food producer.

As it turned out, the customer was interested in upgrading its conveyor system, citing inefficiency and safety concerns. Lonon jumped at the opportunity and went in for a meeting. He told the customer to develop a “wish list” of all the things that he wanted from a new system, why he wanted them and how they would benefit his plant. He then took this list back to the office and pored over the details. Next, he consulted with Hytrol Conveyor Company, Advanced Equipment’s conveyor supplier. Hytrol took the list and figured out what they could do and what would have to be done differently. Lonon then had another face-to-face with the customer to discuss in-depth what he had found. The customer was pleased with Lonon’s attentiveness and with Hytrol’s responsiveness and decided to take the next step.

Excited about the order and intrigued by the ideas the customer had come up with, Hytrol offered to come meet with the customer in person. Lonon and Williamson set up the meeting, and when the time came, they were blown away by what they saw. “I think what surprised me was the firepower that Hytrol sent,” says Lonon. “In my 17-year career, I’ve never seen anything like it.” Hytrol had sent Chris Glenn, director of product technology; Boyce Bonham, director of systems business development; Sam Barnett, senior project engineer; Curtis Collins, applications specialist; and Frank Nichols, Advanced Equipment’s distributor representative at Hytrol.

During the meeting, the customer again went over what he wanted to do and Lonon, Williamson and the Hytrol representatives counseled him on what solutions could be implemented. “Some of the things he was asking for may not have been entirely doable,” says Lonon. “However, we were listening and wanted to provide a perfect solution.” Eventually, all parties came to an agreement and Hytrol set off to design the conveyor.

What they settled on was a Hytrol E24 EZLogic conveyor with a 24-volt DC motor and zero-pressure accumulation capability. To avoid jams, this particular model was customized with elliptical-shaped photo-eye slots instead of the typical two-inch round slots. Since it was being used to transport food, the system minimized the number of flat surfaces and additional holes where contaminants could gather. Additionally, the EZLogic conveyor featured a smart-stop system that would shut down the motors on sections of conveyor that weren’t in use-this ended up cutting energy consumption by over 90 percent from the customer’s previous conveyor.

Hytrol put together a test loop in its Jonesboro, Arkansas, headquarters and flew Lonon, Williamson and the customer out to take a look. The customer was thrilled and placed an order for a 140-ft. conveyor system. He would evaluate the new conveyor’s performance and then, based on performance, consider replacing the rest of the plant’s conveyor as well. Less than a month later, he called Lonon and ordered 500 more feet of EZLogic conveyor-all together $585,000 worth of equipment. Since then, the customer has continued his relationship with Lonon and Advanced Equipment to the tune of another $300,000 sale.

 

“Being in the industry as long as I have, I realize how exceptional this whole process was,” says Lonon. “Having a supplier that went to such extremes to help us get the job done was an enormous part of this project’s success.” However, it wasn’t the only reason the project succeeded. Lonon and Williamson were able to listen closely to the customer, assess their needs and work closely together with Hytrol to develop a truly one-of-a-kind solution.


“Turnkey” Is Magic Word for Cardinal Carryor

DISTRIBUTOR: Cardinal Carryor
SUPPLIER: Crown Equipment Corporation, Hawker, Speedrack
SUMMARY: The ability to provide a turnkey system convinces customer to stick with rack made in the U.S.A.

As the old saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Well, in the case of Cardinal Carryor (Louisville, KY) and its sister company, Cardinal Integrated Systems, an installation for kitchen and bathroom cabinet supplier TBA, Inc., turned out to require both. The “who you know” part came into play when a construction industry friend of Cardinal Integrated Systems Territory Manager Tim Holland told him that TBA was in the process of constructing a new building. Holland approached the customer, and, with the help of Cardinal Carryor Territory Manager Brian Wesley, was able to convince TBA to order from Cardinal. “We were competing against a lot of lower-priced Chinese-built rack,” Holland recalls. “But they wanted to stay with a domestic supplier. Since we could do the whole thing—the rack, trucks, installation and after-sale service—we got the work.”

A longtime LP-powered truck user saw the ROI from electric Crown turret trucks and a battery and charger system from Hawker.

That’s where the “what you know” comes into play. TBA had no real desire to change from its 13-ft. aisles and LP-powered forklifts that it had been using for many years. But with space at a premium, Holland and Wesley proposed a very narrow aisle system. Using Crown’s SureSpec online turret truck specification tool and assistance from Crown Rep Paul Machado, Holland and Wesley determined that an electric Crown turret truck that could perform in 6-ft. aisles would be ideal. “The customer was hesitant at first, because they’d never before used electric trucks,” says Pat Plamp, vice president of sales for Cardinal Carryor. But with the help of Phil Vose from Hawker, Holland and Wesley illustrated that the electric trucks were the best way to achieve a quick return on investment. “Space was limited, and the customer didn’t want to put up a battery changing station. Luckily, Hawker was able to help us by providing the cost justification to move to a fast-charge system,” Plamp says.

 

All told, the sale included two Crown TSP6000 turret trucks, two Hawker Powerline batteries, two Hawker LifeSpeed 3000 high-speed smart chargers, and 3,012 pallet positions of pallet rack from Speedrack. The nearly half-million-dollar sale was completed in March 2009.


Fred Hill Keeps the Balls from Rolling

DISTRIBUTOR: Fred Hill and Son, a Modern Group Company
SUPPLIER: Morse Manufacturing Company
SUMMARY: Distributor and supplier collaborate on custom design for new drum handler.

Since 2006, FLSmidth Minerals (formerly FFE Minerals), a worldwide producer of minerals for mining, construction and other applications headquartered in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, had used a standard model 185g-gr drum handler from Morse Manufacturing Company to handle 55-gallon drums of steel balls used in their manufacturing process. The standard unit was rated at 2,000 lbs., and the customer’s full load of steel balls was slightly heavier than that. The unit could still perform, but the customer became concerned that the bottom of the drums might give way. They contacted their local supplier, Fred Hill and Son, a Modern Group Company (Philadelphia, PA), to talk about a slight modification.

Morse Manufacturing Company custom built a drum handler with 25 percent more capacity than the standard unit.

Rich Richardson, inside salesperson at Fred Hill, worked with Pete Mangovski, application engineer at Morse, to meet the customer’s need. First, they came up with a unit featuring a bottom support to prevent the base of the drum from collapsing. After purchasing a couple of units with the bottom support, the customer was pleased but decided to see if they could increase the units’ capacity. “We added a higher-torque speed reducer, which increased the capacity from 2,000 to 2,500 lbs.,” Mangovski says. “The original piece of equipment incorporated a single-stage, 60 to 1 speed reducer. We increased that to a two-stage, 150 to 1 reducer on the revised design to double the output torque and make it easier to turn the drum,” Mangovski says.

 

With those improvements in place, the customer purchased two more units and has been pleased with the result. “Once they bought one and liked it, they kept ordering more,” Mangovski recalls. “They have been replacing their whole nationwide fleet with the new version of the drum handler.”


Peach State Racks Up a Sale

DISTRIBUTOR: Peach State Integrated Technologies
SUPPLIER: Rack Deck
SUMMARY: Fire code requires custom-made decking for flammable products.

Since beginning work on a large automotive company’s distribution center in Kentucky in 1999, Peach State Integrated Technologies (Norcross, GA) has had a solid working relationship with the carmaker. “Once we got our foot in the door with them, they invited us to bid on other projects, and we’ve been able to build good relationships with their people,” says Tim Kerby, Peach State’s vice president of operations.

Quality performance on the Kentucky installation gave the customer confidence that Peach State could complete work on its distribution center expansion in New Jersey. This project would grow the existing facility by more than a half-million square feet, a small portion of which would be used to store the plastic covers that go on car bumpers. Things were progressing well, until the local fire marshal on the New Jersey project caused a few hiccups in the way of more stringent requirements.

“The plastic covers are considered a hazardous material that would cause significant smoke and toxicity problems if there was a fire,” Kerby says. “During one of the building inspections, the fire marshal said, ‘You can’t do that this way.’ It wasn’t a known obstacle at the beginning of the project.”

Therefore, the selected decking for this portion of the installation needed to meet very strict requirements as set forth by the International Fire Code. At least 50 percent of the decking needed to be open to allow water from the overhead sprinklers to flow through to lower levels of the racking system. Kerby and the project manager on the installation, Senior Structural Engineer Kris Moss, turned to David Swanson, national sales manager for Rack Deck, for help with the 33,000 sq. ft. section. Rack Deck provided custom-made Type 100, 11/2-in.-high Punch Deck 50 percent open corrugated steel rack decking that was able to meet the strict fire code requirements. The installation required thicker-cut pieces than Rack Deck’s standard size, which the manufacturer provided at no extra cost. “Rack Deck was very responsive in getting those made for us and getting them to the site very quickly. They did a top-notch job all the way through this project,” Moss says.

 

The Punch Deck covers only about 15 percent of the approximately 300,000 sq. ft. rack and bin shelving installation, but the customer has been very impressed since the $53,000 section was completed in May 2009. “The customer is very happy,” Moss says. “They’ve already placed at least two orders subsequent to the main order, so they’re very pleased with the product.”


Port of Oswego Gets on Track with Liftech

DISTRIBUTOR: Liftech Equipment Companies
SUPPLIER: Trackmobile Inc.
SUMMARY: Site demo and attractive lease terms seal the deal for customer.

The Port of Oswego sits on Lake Ontario in Oswego, New York, and handles both ship and rail traffic. In order to move rail cars, the port’s workers had traditionally used a front-end loader, which was both unsafe and time-consuming.

Liftech Equipment Companies (East Syracuse, NY) Sales Rep Bob Merrill and Fleet Manager Corky McCombie had routinely dropped off literature about Trackmobile rail car movers but had not done any significant business with the port in several years. In late February 2009, the port had 22 rail cars on site and was expecting the arrival of an additional 23 in the coming week. Using a front-end loader, that would create a nearly impossible workload. “They were starting to get jammed up,” recalls McCombie. “That’s when they called us to inquire about renting a Trackmobile unit.”

A Trackmobile Viking improves a customer’s efficiency and safety when moving rail cars.

As the conversation progressed, McCombie convinced the customer to let him demonstrate a unit for the port’s Board of Directors to make sure it would work the way they wanted it to. “The customer was very pleased to find that this unit drastically cut the time necessary to move rail cars and that it was much safer to use. The Board of Directors made an almost immediate decision to lease one.” By early April, the customer had signed on the dotted line for an 84-month lease of one Trackmobile Viking unit.

“This product really sold itself,” McCombie says. “I knew once we got on site and showed how quickly and efficiently the cars could be moved, the customer would go for it. Since the 84-month lease allows for pretty low payments, it’s really a win-win.” Most Liftech equipment leases are for 48 or 60 months, but McCombie says the long useful life of a Trackmobile allows for longer lease terms. Included in the sale was operator training for five Port of Oswego employees, conducted by McCombie.

The customer has been very pleased with its month-to-month lease investment, thanks to increased storage capacity on site and more efficiency with moves. “The Trackmobile gave the operators access to places they couldn’t get to before because the front-end loader was too big,” McCombie says. “Plus, moves that used to take several hours now take less than one hour, which frees up the staff for other jobs on site.”

 

The results have been so positive, in fact, that McCombie expects the port to order an additional unit when the site expansion is complete.


W&H Systems Gets the Hang of It

DISTRIBUTOR: W&H Systems
SUPPLIER: Mecalux
SUMMARY: Specialized equipment fills clothing maker’s need.

Ten years ago, W&H Systems (Carlstadt, NJ) was selected as the systems integration partner for the HUGO BOSS distribution center project, located in Georgia. The facility was designed to take goods from containers sent from Europe and put the clothes in either hanging or flat locations for distribution to customers. That building was also designed to hold twice the capacity and could be easily transformed to double the size, when the time was appropriate. “The building had a wall that could just be taken down, and then the facility would be mirrored on the other side of that wall,” says W&H Systems Executive Vice President Ron Quackenbush.

Eight years later, HUGO BOSS was ready to move ahead with the expansion project, as business had grown substantially. “They required additional space. We added levels of hanging and flat storage along with a picking system both on trolleys and on flat cartons to marry with the existing systems,” Quackenbush says.

Thanks to Mecalux, both flat boxes and hanging garments can be moved through a clothing retailer’s distribution center.

To help with the racking portion of the new expansion, W&H Systems turned to Mecalux, even though Mecalux was not the supplier in the first phase of the DC. “We had success with them on other installations, and they had given us a lot of personal attention. Because of that, we felt they’d be the best supplier for this project as well,” Quackenbush explains. Quackenbush and his team asked Mecalux to build an extremely specialized piece of equipment. The hanging portion, where garments were stored individually, needed to be structurally sound for additional levels. Plus, because HUGO BOSS is a high-end retailer, they wanted to store the products further apart than a normal retailer so as to take special care of each garment. “The rack had to be specially engineered for us to add the things that we wanted to add to it, and be done in a time frame that was aggressive at a price that was acceptable,” Quackenbush says.

 

Mecalux diligently worked to meet the timeline and was able to provide the equipment on time and within budget. The Mecalux rack meshes well with the FKI Logistex (now Intelligrated) conveyor and Jervis B. Webb garment rail system that was already in place. The customer has been pleased with the system, completed during 2008.


Wisconsin Lift Truck Re-Tires Customer

DISTRIBUTOR: Wisconsin Lift Truck
SUPPLIER: Continental Tire
SUMMARY: Switching to pricier tires saves customer big money.

One of Wisconsin Lift Truck‘s (Brookfield, WI) largest customers is a household goods manufacturer in Racine, Wisconsin. WLT has over 220 trucks in the customer’s facilities throughout the country under a full-service fleet program.

Since it was such an important account, Field Service Manager Pat Ryan kept a very close eye on the fleet. Each month he provided the customer with spreadsheets explaining every detail of the fleet’s performance. After a few months reviewing these reports, Ryan began to notice a trend. These trucks were being run about 500 hours a month and their tires were only lasting for about 1,500 hours. This meant that many of the trucks needed new tires every quarter.

This was an unacceptable situation for Ryan, and he set out to find a solution. His first call was to Brian Riggs, WLT’s tire specialist. He explained the situation and Riggs got down to business. To help find the perfect tire for the application, Riggs contacted Philip Lannon, NAFTA sales manager at Continental Tire. Both Lannon and Riggs studied the application, finally deciding on a Continental MH20 tire. They believed its solid shoulder and lack of tread pattern would be ideal for maximum stability with heavy loads. They were also designed to last much longer than the tires that the customer was currently using.

At first, the customer wasn’t receptive to the idea of new tires. He had requested the lower-quality tires because they were cheaper, and he was still hesitant to pay the premium for the MH20 tires. He even briefly considered opening up the bidding to other companies before Ryan talked him out of it. Ryan offered to give the customer a set of the Continental tires free-of-charge to see how they would perform. The customer agreed to try them out and ended up being thrilled with the tires.

 

Ryan then put together a presentation for the customer detailing how, over the course of a calendar year, the more expensive tires would actually be cheaper than what they were using. The MH20s were able to run 3,000 hours before needing replacement-double the previous tire’s capabilities. The customer recognized the value of the Continental tires and decided to purchase them for the entire fleet. “This sale was a big win for all three parties,” says Ryan. “The Continental tires enabled us to solve a very big problem and, more important, keep our customer extremely happy.”


Atlantic Handling Cuts A Deal

DISTRIBUTOR: Atlantic Handling Systems
SUPPLIER: Unex Manufacturing
SUMMARY: New pallet flow system bolsters productivity and customer satisfaction.

When the owners of Master Cutlery, a developer, importer and distributor of knives, swords, martial arts equipment and associated products, began building a new warehouse in Seacaucus, New Jersey, the goal was to create an efficient facility that could support growth.

Unex Span-Track allows employees of a knife and sword supplier to work smarter and fulfill more daily orders.

Master Cutlery hired Atlantic Handling Systems (Fair Lawn, NJ) to analyze the dynamic storage of the Seacaucus facility and select and implement equipment that would boost productivity and bolster customer service and satisfaction. Upon evaluation, John Cosgrove, president of Atlantic Handling, recognized that Master Cutlery had three major needs: more space for inventory, a more efficient way to fulfill orders to replace the cumbersome, static storage of the pallet rack system, and better carton support for the corrugated cardboard that often ripped due to uneven weight distribution.

Upon an evaluation of the space and discussion with the customer, Cosgrove and his team came up with a clear solution. Through previous dealings with President Brian Neuwirth and his team at Unex, Cosgrove knew that implementing Unex Span-Track into the overall design of the warehouse would address all of those problems. He worked with Unex to calculate the necessary pieces and develop a delivery schedule. Atlantic Handling Systems placed the Span-Track carton flow system on the floor level within the existing pallet rack to maximize pick efficiency. Two levels of high-density pallet storage were placed above, maximizing space utilization for a total of 1,152 pallet positions.

 

The new system is capable of fulfilling 700 to 800 orders per day from deep carton flow lanes requiring only three pickers, as opposed to 15 under the old set up. Victor Lee, president of Master Cutlery, is ecstatic about the company’s newfound productivity. “Master Cutlery has evolved from a small retail operation to a company that offers 7,000 knife products. Our catalog is 300 pages long,” says Lee. “If we want to continue on a growth track, we have to find ways to maximize our space and efficiency. Span-Track helps us achieve those goals.”


Miner Keeps Its Cool

DISTRIBUTOR: The Miner Corporation
SUPPLIER: Powered Aire, Rytec
SUMMARY: Heated air curtains provide a separator between cooler and freezer storage environments.

Shamrock Foods, a food distributor that does a lot of institutional and restaurant business throughout Arizona, has an automated high-rise storage/retrieval system in its distribution center. A conveyor system travels from a cooler dock through a wall into the freezer area in the AS/RS tower. The hole in the wall through which the conveyor travels is 5 ft. wide x 6 ft. high, and strip doors have traditionally been used as a separator, with infrared lights used to keep the doors from freezing. However, this setup was causing problems because the strip doors would often knock product off the conveyor. Therefore, Shamrock was looking for a way to improve productivity and safety.

They called on their longtime material handling provider, The Miner Corporation (San Antonio, TX), for help. Miner had performed previous installations for Shamrock and had helped the customer recover its investment quickly and substantially in energy savings. That history of success was enough for Shamrock to trust Miner with a solution to its latest problem.

A Rytec high-speed door with heated air curtains from Powered Aire serves as an energy-efficient divider between a cooler and a freezer.

Miner Southwest President Brad Wicks‘ proposed solution was to cover the opening with a high-speed Rytec door with heated air curtains from Powered Aire, integrated with a stainless steel fan. The heated curtains are mounted beneath the barrel or headmember of the high-speed door. “We integrated everything based on the pallet movement through the control system for the conveyor. It’s a pretty cool system,” Wicks says.

The fan serves two purposes-one, to keep the fabric on the doors from frosting over and, two, blowing a curtain of air to keep the temperatures separated when the door is open. “The temperature in the cooler area is about 40 degrees, but it’s about ten below zero in the freezer. Brian Hellman, Shamrock’s facilities engineer, was a strong advocate for creating environmental separation and minimizing energy loss. This set up allows us to do that.”

The installation started in December 2008. In order to install the fans and curtains, Miner first had to remove the existing hard-panel sliding freezer doors that covered the openings. “It took a while to integrate everything with the computer system, so we didn’t complete the installation until March 2009. But the customer is very happy.”

 

When all was said and done, it ended up being a $31,000 sale, and Wicks is quick to credit Powered Aire’s-particularly National Sales Manager Phil Rodenbaugh‘s-part in sealing the deal. “Everything this day and age is price-conscious,” Wicks says. “Powered Aire was able to provide the curtains at a very competitive number that made it easy to secure the business. Plus it’s a very aesthetically pleasing fan with the stainless steel housing and it looks very nice in the application.”


South Atlantic Systems Group Gets Wired

DISTRIBUTOR: South Atlantic Systems Group
SUPPLIER: Nashville Wire Products
SUMMARY: Distributor helps large grocery distributor reduce product damage.

A large grocery distributor in the Northeast was in need of a wire decking solution. Their existing system didn’t have anything in place to prevent product from getting pushed back too far and falling off. This was causing significant damage, and they turned to their longtime partner, South Atlantic Systems Group (Jacksonville, FL) Vice President Mark Teixeira, for help.

Teixeira took a trip to the customer’s location and began to develop a solution. The first priority had to be preventing product from falling off the rack, but a traditional net-based solution would be too pricey. Something else had to be developed. Also, the labels on the front of the rack needed to be easily visible. This meant that traditional waterfall decking was out of the question.

Decking from Nashville Wire Products was customized to meet the customer’s rigorous demands.

Teixeira took his findings back to the office and presented them to his engineering team and also to Matthew Hendon, sales manager at Nashville Wire Products, one of the company’s suppliers. “We had previously done some rack installations with Nashville Wire that didn’t have the waterfall over the front of the beam,” says Teixeira. “My concern was that the capacity of this decking wasn’t very high.” Fortunately, it was just high enough to meet the customer’s requirement without risking dislodgement.

With one requirement met, Teixeira and his team set out to solve the next one. “We needed inverted channel decking, but we also had to be able to prevent product from falling off the back,” says Teixeira. “Nashville Wire came up with an inverted waterfall for the back of the decking. This would stop anything that got pushed back too far from falling off,” he explains.

 

They now had a system that incorporated all three required features: the inverted channel, the inverted waterfall in the back and the inside-fit feature. Hendon then put together a sample of the product at no cost and shipped it to the customer for their approval. Approval was given, and 20,000 pieces of wire decking were ordered. The installation was completed in July 2009, and the customer couldn’t be happier. They are already looking into purchasing decking for other facilities. “In large part, what made this project work so effectively was Nashville Wire’s willingness to partner with us,” says Teixeira, “They always find a way to help keep us competitive.”


Service Expertise Yields Rental Deal for Oram

DISTRIBUTOR: Oram Material Handling Systems
SUPPLIER: Narrow Aisle Inc.
SUMMARY: Manufacturer and distributor negotiate long-term rental deal.

Gunze Plastics & Engineering, a manufacturer of plastic labeling materials, had been using two older-model Flexi articulating VNA forklifts manufactured by Narrow Aisle Inc. for many years. They had purchased the units from one distributor, but had been getting serviced by the new Flexi dealer in the area, Oram Material Handling Systems (Kansas City, KS). “When we became the Flexi dealer, Narrow Aisle sent a trainer to train our technicians because it’s a little different animal than a traditional forklift,” Oram says. “Having that expertise really helped cement our relationship with the customer because their previous service vendors didn’t have the same technical skills.”

Gunze’s maintenance costs were increasing as these units were getting older and the old style of four-stage mast was causing problems, so they couldn’t wait any longer to upgrade to the newer model with a newer style of mast. Thanks to the quality service that Oram Material Handling Systems had been giving, Gunze turned to Fred Oram, president, to purchase the new units.

Oram had one Flexi unit in stock, but it did not have the new four-stage mast on it. So Oram contacted Warren Cornil, president of Narrow Aisle. Narrow Aisle was eager to help Oram secure the deal, and Cornil readily agreed to ship the new mast. In addition, Cornil and Oram negotiated a deal whereby Oram would rent another unit from Narrow Aisle and, in turn, re-rent it to Gunze. “We were concerned about adding a unit to our rental fleet, but this setup solved the financial issues for us and the customer,” Oram says. “Doing it as a rental allows us to hold onto our equipment as an asset,” Oram says.

 

Gunze agreed to a two-year rental of both units, costing about $4,000 per month, including full maintenance. Within 90 days from the first quote, the customer had its two new units, with masts, on site in July 2009.


Yale Lift Trucks of Florida & Georgia Ramps Things Up

DISTRIBUTOR: Yale Lift Trucks of Florida & Georgia
SUPPLIER: Bluff Manufacturing, Yale Materials Handling Corporation, Caldwell
SUMMARY: Custom yard ramp takes customer to new heights.

Florida in July can be uncomfortably hot at times, especially if you’re one of three employees that a mid-Florida copper tubing supplier hired to load 12- to 18-ft. bundles of pipe, weighing in excess of 2,200 lbs., into the back of a trailer. It wasn’t pretty; something had to give. So the pipe supplier put the word out that they were looking for a material handling company to help them find a better way to handle the task.

A competitive bidding process broke out and Yale Lift Trucks of Florida & Georgia (Tampa, FL) was right in the middle of it. Account Manager John Hilberling stumbled across the opportunity while making a cold call, and he was determined to bring the project home. “We went all out for this one. We really did our homework,” explains Hilberling. “We brought in engineering specs from three of our suppliers: Yale, Bluff Manufacturing and Caldwell.” The customer was duly impressed, and after a two-month process, Hilberling won the job.

What they settled on was a three-part solution. The first part was a Yale GLC155CA, 15,500-lb. capacity cushion-tire forklift. Attached to the front of the forklift would be a 15-ft. Caldwell boom for carrying the piping. The third part would be a little bit trickier.

This Bluff Manufacturing ramp, Yale lift truck and Caldwell boom helped Yale Lift Trucks of Florida & Georgia take its customer’s product to a whole new level.

Since the customer’s facility was all ground-level with no loading docks, Hilberling had to work together with Bluff to design a yard ramp for the Yale forklift. The ramp had to be adjustable from 48 to 52 in. tall to line up with the trailers. “I presented Bluff with a vision, and they really took it and ran with it,” says Hilberling. “It was a very efficient process as far as getting the drawings and approvals ready.” What Hilberling and the customer settled on was a 26-ft. ramp at a 12-degree incline and a flat 8-ft. section.

“I have to give a lot of credit to my manufacturers. They really stepped up for me on this project,” says Hilberling. “Bluff Manufacturing was incredibly responsive and helpful while we worked together on the ramp design, and the customer was thrilled with the quality of the Yale and Caldwell products.” If it weren’t for the engineering help from Bluff and the immediate availability of the Yale and Caldwell products, Hilberling doubts that the sale would’ve been completed.

It was completed—the system was installed in January 2009 to rave reviews. It wasn’t simple, but John Hilberling, Yale Lift Trucks of Florida & Georgia and their suppliers turned a cold call into a hot sale, all while saving their customer a lot of sweat.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

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