Home >> Sales and Marketing >> Teamwork Seals The Deals

Teamwork Seals The Deals

Sales Success Stories illustrate industry’s resilience.

Sales may have been hard to come by for the last couple of years, but that just meant working harder, working smarter and working new sales avenues. As the Sales Success Stories that follow show us, there were projects out there if we looked in the right places. That may have meant beating on the same door until finally someone would listen. Maybe it meant placing ads in non-conventional channels. Maybe it was tracking down a new customer in a new market. Whatever the case, sales success in 2010 required some creativity. And MHEDA members, as always, rose to the challenge. 

AK Material Handling Systems
Bastian Material Handling
Carolina Material Handling
Conveyer & Caster – Equipment for Industry
Conveyors & Drives
Craft Equipment
Fredon Handling
Lift Solutions
  M & G Materials Handling
MH Equipment
Morrison Industrial Equipment
Quality Storage Products
Raymond Handling Solutions
Riekes Material Handling
Vargo Companies
Warehouse Equipment & Supply Partners Up
WW Cannon



Conveyer & Caster Has Customer’s Back  

Many workers describe their jobs as “a pain,” but for employees on the production line at TMG Performance Products in Berea, Ohio, it was all too literal.  

TMG makes high-performance exhaust systems for boats and sports cars. As the components were coming down the line, they needed to be lifted off of a pallet and put on a workbench for polishing and buffing. These often odd-shaped products weighed up to 120 pounds and were hard to handle. Plus, workers of different heights were struggling to find natural postures to work on the fixed benches. By bending and stretching to work on the components, a high number of sprains and strains were being reported. 

Distributor: Conveyer & Caster – Equipment for Industry
Manufacturer: Presto Lifts
Summary: Ergomonic and transport issues solved with adjustable-height work platforms.

Carol Dorring, the plant’s safety manager, secured a grant from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to fix the injury problems, but needed help to find a solution. She turned to her longtime material handling provider, Rick Andrews, vice president of Conveyer & Caster – Equipment for Industry (Cleveland, OH). After surveying the situation, Andrews determined that an adjustable work platform was required. But he also noticed other problems besides the ergonomic issues. At one finishing station, for example, the device would also need to accommodate the use of a pre-existing mechanical hoist. Lateral transport was also important to efficiently move the bulky components from one station to the next.  

Andrews called on past success with Presto Lifts. “I’ve worked with Presto Lifts many times before. Presto is always willing to work with us to satisfy our customers,” he says. “They are a great ally in promoting lasting relationships with our shared clients.”  

Adjustable mobile lift tables customized by Presto Lifts helped reduce worker injuries throughout the assembly process.

The solution Andrews and Presto came up with consisted of four custom-made XP Portable Manual Scissor Lifts. The lifts’ platforms are adjustable to any height between 9.25 and 45 inches by engaging a hydraulic foot pedal. The platform was made of a non-marring work surface to prevent exhaust system components from getting scratched. The unit features oversized wheels for easier rolling and turning, a foot-operated floor lock and lifetime lubricated bearings.  

The $10,000 solution has been very well-received by the customer. “The most enthusiastic response came from the operators themselves,” Andrews says. “Strains resulting from laboring at an inappropriate posture have been virtually eliminated, and productivity is up. There is no question that this has been a win-win experience.”  


AK Lets Hoses Flow  

When Caterpillar Paving Products moved to its new warehouse in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, it took advantage of the opportunity to seek out a storage solution for its hydraulic hoses. The company was having an issue whereby old hoses were being pushed to the back of the inventory and consequently drying out. It wanted a standardized way to store the hoses inside of pallet racking and move them through the inventory in the order in which they were received. 

Distributor: AK Material Handling Systems
Manufacturers: Excel Storage Products, J&L Wire Cloth, Mallard Manufacturing
Summary: FIFO rail storage standardizes hose inventory in customer’s new warehouse.

AK Material Handling Systems (Maple Grove, MN) Account Manager Pete Brandon found out about the project through his existing relationship with Caterpillar Paving Products, but he still had to compete in a quoting process. He, fellow Account Manager Brian Koski and AK President Al Boston put their heads together to find a suitable hose storage solution. After throwing around various ideas, Brandon spotted a sample of pallet flow rack from Mallard Manufacturing that showed some potential, so he called Mallard President Kevin Risch and asked for help. “Mallard was key to this project,” says Brandon. “They sent us several prototypes of channels they use for pallet flow, and the third one we tried worked.”  

With the main cog in place, the rest of the storage solution came together for Brandon. “Using the galvanized channel from Mallard, I designed a first-in, first-out rail system to hang the hoses within a pallet rack frame. The customer can take hoses from the front and stock new inventory in the back.”  

Galvanized pallet flow channels from Mallard Manufacturing allow for first-in, first-out inventory control of hoses.

Galvanized pallet flow channels from Mallard Manufacturing allow for first-in, first-out inventory control of hoses.

Caterpillar Paving Products chose AK Material Handling Systems for the project thanks to Brandon’s hose rail storage solution, but this was only one part of a larger project. In all, AK Material Handling Systems installed 10,000 wire decks from J&L Wire Cloth and 80,000 sq. ft. of Excel Storage Products racking, including 80 96-inch bays of hose storage. To add to the challenge, everything needed to be installed by the end of July 2010, when the customer was scheduled to vacate its old warehouse. “Both Excel and J&L expedited their products so that we could finish in time. We gave them a date and they met it,” Brandon says.  

AK convinced Caterpillar Paving Products to purchase new racking for the project by buying the customer’s used racking from its old warehouse to offset the cost. Under a tight deadline, help from all of the manufacturers ensured a smooth transition to Caterpillar Paving Product’s new warehouse. The $500,000 project was successfully completed on time and the customer has seen improved throughput with a standardized storage solution.  


Warehouse Equipment & Supply Partners Up  

Hays Tapia, branch manager of the Mobile, Alabama, location of Warehouse Equipment & Supply (Huntsville, AL), isn’t quoting Humph-rey Bogart’s famous line at the end of Casablanca when he says, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” No, he’s referring to the $4 million sale of 27 modular office containers he made with the help of Provinical Partitions President Todd Frankland

Distributor: Warehouse Equipment & Supply
Manufacturer: Provincial Partitions
Summary: Distributor and manufacturer in first-time partnership install 27 modular containers in a steel plant.

ThyssenKrupp Steel USA (TKS) is in the process of building a 3,500-acre steel manufacturing facility in Mobile. Its construction is being called the largest non-governmental project in the world, with more than 7,000 workers on site. When completed, the facility’s cost is estimated to be upwards of $10 billion. Frankland has a longtime relationship with one of the on-site contractors and found out about the needs of the customer.  

TKS wanted to install a series of rooms where the employees operating the machines on the plant floor could work the controls. These 20 ft. x 30 ft. x 12 ft. spaces had to be fireproof and soundproof enclosures. TKS also wanted a set of controlled-environment rooms to house the plant’s computer equipment. A steel mill gets very hot, and computer equipment cannot be exposed to that type of environment. The rooms for the computer equipment are 17 feet tall. False floors about five feet up conceal fiber optics and wiring underneath them.  

TKS initially wanted to ship in pre-assembled modular offices from another part of the country, but the freight costs would have been astronomical. Provincial Partitions’ specialty is modular containers that are assembled in the field. The difference in freight costs was enough to make the difference for TKS. They went with the Provincial Partitions models.  

Although Tapia and Frankland had never worked together before, they formed a partnership to make sure the customer got its containers and all the after-sale support it would need. As of press time, the installation was more than half complete—and two weeks ahead of schedule. All 27 units are expected to be installed by the end of the year. Not bad for a first-time collaboration.  


Century-Fournier Beats the Clock  

There are rush jobs, and then there is the installation pulled off by William Petro, president of Century-Fournier (Youngstown, OH), after being approached by his longtime steel mill customer earlier this year. The steel mill was using hoppers to collect forged parts for cleaning. The slag from the forging process needed to be washed off the parts, which required filling the hoppers with water. The problem came when workers tried to remove the water. They couldn’t risk the fine particulate leaking out with the water, so picking up the hoppers and dumping them was not an option. 

Distributor: Century-Fournier
Manufacturer: Apex Bulk Handlers
Summary: Custom hoppers designed, built and installed in two-week window.

Under normal circumstances, there would have been plenty of time for Petro to talk to a few different vendors and see who could provide the best solution. But this equipment needed to be designed, quoted, built and installed in the customer’s facility in two weeks. “That was asking a lot,” Petro says. “When I saw what they required, I zeroed in on Apex Bulk Handlers right away. I knew they had the capability to get the job done right.” Petro contacted Gary Warner, Apex’s owner, for some assistance. “The key was to come up with a design quickly that would work for the customer,” Petro says. “If we couldn’t make a commitment to get it to him, he was going to go elsewhere.”  

Petro and Warner came up with a solution that called for two interchangeable specially designed 2.5-cubic-yard hoppers whose sides and backs had been replaced with perforated plates. The perforations were 0.09375-inch holes on 5/32-inch centers. Screens were then fastened over the openings to let the water leak out without losing any of the slag. The hoppers also were equipped with wheels so they could roll on a track between the forging area and a 25-foot-deep dewatering pit. “We showed the customer our design, and he immediately said that was exactly what he was looking for,” Petro recalls.  

Once the design was approved, it became a game of beat the clock to meet the deadline. “Apex was able to meet the deadline without increasing the cost over a standard timeline,” Petro says.  

Everything was ready on schedule, and the reliability shown by Century-Fournier has already resulted in a subsequent sale of a large in-plant office in another section of the facility. “We have a good working relationship with the customer,” Petro says. “They come back to us with their tough problems.” Thanks to partners like Apex Bulk Handlers, Petro and Century-Fournier have been able to solve them.  


Customer Gets a Facelift from Raymond Handling Solutions  

With the downturn in the economy, many distributors are finding that providing low-cost solutions is the only way to get projects approved. Rich O’Connor, integrated systems manager at Raymond Handling Solutions (Santa Fe Springs, CA), ran into such a challenge on a project for Jafra Cosmetics, a direct marketing cosmetics company headquartered in Westlake Village, California. 

Distributor: Raymond Handling Solutions
Manufacturer: TGW-Ermanco
Summary: Used and new conveyor equipment are combined in a consolidated distribution center.

The customer was consolidating its 52,000 sq. ft. facility in California and its 22,000 sq. ft. facility in New Jersey into one 70,000 sq. ft. distribution center near Dallas, Texas. Luckily for Jafra, it had developed a long-term relationship with Raymond Handling Solutions after the distributor had installed two successful pick-and-pack systems within the last seven years. “We continually earn the customer’s business by minimizing the impact on their shipping operations while integrating pick-to-light, scanning and printer applicator technologies with their enterprise resource planning software,” O’Connor says.  

O’Connor and Project Manager Raul Perez consulted with the customer regarding the new facility, and the customer had two requirements: the project could not exceed the $700,000 budget and must be done without shutting down any shipping operations. O’Connor and Perez consulted Chris Nienhaus, regional sales manager at TGW-Ermanco, to make the project happen. Collaboration on designs began in February 2009. In order to minimize costs, the group decided to retain some of the customer’s existing equipment while at the same time improving efficiency with new automation and sortation equipment. Any new designs, however, would need to have fewer drive motors to remain on budget.  

More than 750 feet of TGW-Ermanco conveyor integrated with existing equipment at a cosmetics distribution center.

“TGW came through on the new equipment and also provided valuable engineering support to reduce project risk,” O’Connor says. “A TGW engineer did field surveys of the existing equipment to proactively identify the equipment needing parts and provided installation drawings detailing the phases where all of the existing equipment would fit and where to place the new conveyors.”  

About 80 percent of the equipment installed in the new facility was reused from Jafra’s existing buildings. New equipment included 750 feet of TGW conveyor. Roughly 250 feet were composed of XP-43 Lineshaft Driven Live Roll-er with CruzControl Accumulation; 400 feet were XR-40 Lineshaft Driven Live Roller Transportation; and 100 feet used TGW’s XR-40 Lineshaft induction, wheel diverts and spur merges. All of these conveyors were integrated with a carton erector, pick-to-light system, carton sealers, strapping machines, conveyor scales, scanners and printer applicators for a complete pick-pack-ship solution.  

The order was received in January 2010, and the final phase of installation was completed July 2010. It goes to show that a little teamwork can go a long way. As O’Connor says, “The partnership between manufacturer, integrator and customer made this project a success.”  


Internet Marketing Pays Off for Carolina Material Handling  

When regular sales avenues aren’t bearing fruit, try something else. That’s what Robby Reighley, outside salesman at Carolina Material Handling (Greensboro, NC), did when he posted a series of ads on Craigslist to promote different capabilities of the company. “I put together fliers for pallet rack, pallet jacks and several other products,” he recalls. “It’s free advertising, so I figured what the heck.” It paid off when he received a phone call in March from someone who had just stumbled across the ads by typing “pallet racking Greensboro NC” into a search engine.  

Early installation of Mecalux rack and Tri-Boro shelving helped a direct-mail distribution center get ready for business.

The caller was from Lincoln Financial, who was just about to break ground on a distribution center for all of its direct-mail marketing materials in downtown Greensboro. The project required filling an empty warehouse with pallet rack, lockers, shelving, mail sorters, scales and a host of other allied material handling products. “The customer knew what he wanted—to cut long-term costs. The company had set aside money in its budget to build this facility, so he didn’t take much convincing,” Reighley says. “He didn’t want to spend the entire budget, though, so getting multiple bids helped save money.”  

A project of this size required Reighley to be on top of his game. “We ended up using about 15 different products, many of which the purchasing agent had probably never seen before,” he says. In order to help the customer understand exactly what was being quoted and differentiate his bid from the others, Reighley put together a binder with a page dedicated to each product. Each page had a picture of the exact model of the product, a detailed list of specifications and the quoted price. “They could look at exactly what we were quoting so there would be no surprises when the order was placed,” Reighley says. That level of detail went a long way to securing the order. “I really think that was what put us over the top,” Reighley adds. “When it came time to order, they did a sample order with us, so we shipped in one bay of pallet racking and one section of shelving. They reviewed it and thought it looked good. The purchase order came in about a week and a half later.”  

The approximately $130,000 sale consisted of 192 uprights of Mecalux pallet racking with 410 12-foot beams and 160 8-foot beams, 786 Tri-Boro wire decks, 40 Tennsco workbenches with countertops by Michigan Maple, 18 counting scales from Central Carolina Scale and 32 ergonomic carts by Little Giant. “All the manufacturers on this project were great to work with,” Reighley says. “They could have been upset that they didn’t have a larger part of the order, but they understood and got their jobs done right.” 

Distributor: Carolina Material Handling, Stein Service & Supply
Manufacturers: Mecalux, Tennsco, Tri-Boro Shelving, Central Carolina Scale, Little Giant
Summary: A Craigslist ad leads to installation of an entire distribution center.

To get the rack order going, Reighley worked with fellow MHEDA distributor Stein Service & Supply (Charlotte, NC), a wholesale supplier for Mecalux. “I relied heavily on Stein for the pallet rack because this was a time-sensitive project,” Reighley says. “Stein stocks inventory on site and was able to ship everything very quickly and on time on the day the installers were ready to start.”  

Coordinating when that day would be proved to be somewhat tricky. The purchase order came in mid-March, but the customer’s building wasn’t quite ready for installation. “We held off shipping everything because they had to get contractors in to prepare the building,” Reighley says. “It really only took us about a week to get everything together, but we couldn’t ship anything until April 19.”  

Despite a few hiccups with the freight company delivering some of the material a day late, the project came together smoothly. It took all of Reighley’s coordination and cooperation from all the manufacturers involved. “This was one of the biggest projects I’ve ever worked on, and it was a fun process. It taught me how to be more detail-oriented and organized,” Reighley says. “It makes me want to go out and get another one.”  


Easy as Pie for Fredon Handling  

Sometimes, sales find you. Such was the case for Fredon Handling (Jackson, MI) President Greg Wait when he was working with Achatz Handmade Pie Company. Achatz bakes all of its pies by hand in a production facility in Chesterfield Township, Michigan. The production facility has a 14 ft. x 10 ft. overhead receiving door that opens right into the main baking area. Of course, this is not an ideal scenario to keep the temperature inside correct and to keep insects and other pests away from the food preparation areas.  

Achatz found Fredon Handling on the Internet after conducting a search for “air curtains.” Luckily for Wait, he recently had gotten a primer on air curtains from Powered Aire Product Rep Mike Boyle. “Mike told us about the stainless steel air curtains, which I thought would be an asset in a food operation like this one.” Wait called Sales Engineer Phil Rodenbaugh at the factory to confirm his suggestion. Rodenbaugh agreed and promptly provided a quote for Wait to present to the customer.  

The MP-2-120 proved to be the ideal solution. Not only did it help the plant achieve proper climate separation, it prevents insects, dust, exhaust fumes and other debris from entering through the opening. The customer also found a benefit in having all the controls included in the body of the unit. Wait mounted the curtain around the overhead door, and the customer’s problem was solved. 

Distributor: Fredon Handling
Manufacturer: Powered Aire
Summary: Installation of air curtains keeps bakery climate-controlled and insect-free.

After the success at its main production facility, Achatz called on Wait for a similar solution at its second location, an orchard with a bake shop in nearby Armada, Michigan. During the summer, the bake shop doors are left open to let visitors freely walk in and out without a physical barrier. “They were going to be installing new doors, but wanted the air curtains as part of the package to keep things comfortable for their customers,” Wait says.  

Installation at this location proved to be a bit trickier, due to some low ceiling heights and more stringent comfort requirements. The final result was an 8 ft. x 10 ft. air curtain with a variable speed selector. “We needed to make sure it wasn’t going to be too much wind for customers to walk through as they entered and exited the shop,” Wait says. “It had to be calibrated correctly for comfort while still offering the benefits of an air curtain.”  

Mission accomplished. Within two months of the initial customer contact, the $10,000 sale and installation of both locations’ air curtains were completed in September 2009.  


M & G Gets It on Tap  

Cases of beer are typically delivered to beverage distributors on pallets stacked eight or ten cases high. For the distributor, filling a customer’s order may require picking one level from Pallet A, two levels from Pallet B, two levels from Pallet C, and so forth. Cranston, Rhode Island-based beverage distributor McLaughlin & Moran historically had performed these tasks by hand. However, when InBev acquired Anheuser-Busch in 2008, the different SKUs of inventory exponentially increased, and the time to fill a pallet went up to about four minutes per pallet. 

Distributor: M & G Materials Handling Company
Manufacturers: Yale Materials Handling Corporation, Tygard Machine & Manufacturing
Summary: Beverage distributor upgraded its picking methodology to handle a much higher number of SKUs.

McLaughlin & Moran approached its longtime material handling equipment provider, M & G Materials Hand-ling (East Providence, RI) and Account Manager Frank Kernan. Kernan explored different picking options to determine potential solutions. Luckily, M & G had helped a local Pepsi bottler with the nearly exact same problem ten years earlier. That solution involved attaching a line picker from Cascade Corporation to a forklift. The attachment picked entire levels from the pallets and placed them on a new pallet to avoid manual case picking. “We brought the folks from McLaughlin & Moran down to the Pepsi site and showed them how a line picker would work,” Kernan says. “They were on board with the idea immediately.”  

Once Kernan knew that the distributor wanted to explore a pick line, he contacted Kip Tygard, national sales manager at Tygard Machine & Manufacturing, for input. “Kip had done similar projects for other Anheuser-Busch distributors, so he was well-versed on what we were looking to do,” Kernan explains.  

M&G Account Manager Frank Kernan demonstrates a line picker attachment on a Yale ERC60 forklift.

Kernan equipped the customer’s Yale ERC60 lift truck with a Tygard layer picker specially engineered to match the customer’s load sizes.  

Since the switch, picking time is down to just over a minute per pallet. “This solution significantly reduces man hours and also reduces product damage. Before, the operators were more inclined to slip or drop cases, especially as they got more and more tired,” Kernan says. “This layer picker takes a lot of that away.”  

Kernan credits his supplier partners for helping secure the $60,000 sale. “The manufacturers really took this out of the concept stage and gave us very specific information to work with,” he says. “We had a very high level of confidence the project would ultimately succeed because we had brought in the best people to work on it. By showing the customer the value they would get down the line, they embraced the idea and went ahead with the project.”  


Quality Storage Products Beats the Cold  

Alpha Baking Company relied on an outsourced cold storage facility to hold the ingredients to its food products. But as its frozen food product line kept expanding, the number of pallet positions Alpha needed in the warehouse doubled. Some of its product began to overflow from its dedicated freezer area into another section of the warehouse. The task of then picking product from two separate areas decreased employee efficiency and slowed down the delivery process. Alpha Baking decided it was time for its own dedicated space.  

The Pallet Runner from Konstant helps cold storage customer fit more than 4,000 pallets in less than 15,000 sq. ft.

The Pallet Runner from Konstant helps a cold storage customer fit more than 4,000 pallets in less than 15,000 sq. ft.

Alpha and Frozen Assets, the operator of its previous warehouse, agreed to work together to build a cold storage and distribution center in downtown Chicago in a building next to the first facility. The less-than-two-acre lot needed to hold 8,300 pallet positions, all 96 inches high, with room left over for a 15-door loading dock, offices and other staging and maintenance space.  

The two companies looked for help from Frozen Assets’ longtime partner, Michael Meehan, president of Quality Storage Products (Tinley Park, IL). Meehan and engineers from the two customers put their heads together to come up with a suitable set up. They considered several possibilities. The system depth of 20-plus pallets, however, eliminated pallet flow as an option because the necessary pitch didn’t allow enough levels. Similarly, a pushback system was deemed to require too many aisles and too much pitch, and not enough pallet positions would have fit.  

With those options eliminated, Meehan’s final design included the Konstant Pallet Runner, a remote-controlled storage unit where carts run along a single-lane alley 24 pallets deep. The forklift operator keys in a command on the remote to direct the cart to retrieve or store pallets. Only one aisle is required, so pallet positions can be maximized. The customer was intrigued by this solution, so Meehan took the team to several other sites where the Pallet Runner had been installed. The customer was impressed and decided to design its building with the Pallet Runner system as its centerpiece. 

Distributor: Quality Storage Products
Manufacturer: Konstant
Summary: Creative pallet system design is centerpiece of cold storage warehouse layout.

The final design featured a system that holds 4,080 pallets in less than 15,000 sq. ft. The remaining pallets are stored in nearly 26,000 sq. ft. of Konstant pushback rack. The customer has been thrilled with the design, and has seen efficiency improvements ranging from better inventory control to even lower lighting costs, as there is no need to light the deep rack section where the automated carts operate.  

It’s worked so well, in fact, that the only complaint is from delivery drivers who joke, “We get unloaded so fast, we don’t have time to come in and take a nap.” If that’s the only complaint, then a project is a success. The teamwork between Konstant and Quality Storage Products ensured that this customer didn’t get left out in the cold.  


Conveyors & Drives Makes Haste with Hytrol  

A manufacturer of business-to-business retail equipment was consolidating multiple facilities into a central location in Atlanta, Georgia, and was running behind schedule. By the time they got around to ordering their conveyor, the system needed to be installed and operational in just over five weeks. The company didn’t realize that the special, low-noise conveyor it sought wasn’t the kind typically available that quickly. After talking with the customer, Craig Schuchardt, manager of systems engineering at Conveyors & Drives (Atlanta, GA), submitted a quote and a promise to meet their deadline. A $250,000 order was placed that day.  

To make good on his promise, Schuchardt called on Hytrol Conveyor Company Director of Systems Projects Boyce Bonham and Director of Sales Don Bibb. Schuchardt recalls, “When I gave them a date, I said, ‘Before you start yelling at me, I know it is only four weeks away.’ They simply told me they would do whatever it took to get the job done.” Hytrol turned to its supplier network to take what is ordinarily an eight-week lead time and cut it in half. “They committed to a ship date and stuck to it,” says Schuchardt. “I was impressed that Hytrol stepped up and was willing to stray from their production schedule by such a large degree for something that was not necessarily a large sale for them.” 

Distributor: Conveyors & Drives
Manufacturer: Hytrol Conveyor Company
Summary: Manufacturer cut its lead time in half to meet customer deadline.

After delivery, Conveyors & Drives only had another four days to install the 800-foot conveyor system, which included a 190-LR transportation conveyor, ABEZ zero-pressure live roller accumulation and three-strand v-belt transfers. To meet the customer’s request for a quiet system, Conveyors & Drives used timing belt transfers instead of o-ring or chain transfers along with a direct shaft drive to eliminate chain noise. Cardboard tubes inside the rollers dampen noise from products running over the rollers.  

The project was completed in July 2010, five weeks and two days from the time Schuchardt submitted a quote, and right on schedule. “We finished before the rest of the facility was completed, so the conveyor system sat for three or four days before they could use it,” Schuchardt says. It turned out that the customer had provided a false deadline because they feared delays in the delivery schedule. “If we tell a customer we’re going to do something, we’re going to do it,” says Schuchardt. “That is what we have built our reputation on.”  


Craft Equipment Rolls The Dies  

In an ideal sales world, one sale begets another and another. For Dan Bredwell, sales representative at Craft Equipment Company (Tampa, FL), that scenario played itself out with a local manufacturer and longtime customer.  

The customer was consolidating its operations into a new facility and wanted to keep the new one looking pristine for as long as possible. Plus, they didn’t want to take up too much space with forklift aisles. “It’s an assembly room environment, and we don’t want forklift traffic in there,” Bredwell says. 

Distributor: Craft Equipment
Manufacturers: Gorbel, Remstar
Summary: Custom-engineered crane solution eliminates forklifts from an assembly area in warehouse.

Without forklifts, that meant the customer needed an ergonomic solution to load and unload dies for storage that were too heavy to handle by hand. Bredwell had sold the customer two eight-foot-wide Remstar vertical lift modules (VLMs) that stand side by side surrounded by a walkway with a handrail. At another location, the customer used a jib crane to lift the dies, but Bredwell thought there was a more efficient way. He brought Todd Wagner, the regional Gorbel rep, to the customer site, and the two brainstormed some possible solutions. “When Todd asked, ‘I wonder if we can use the rail,’ it clicked.”  

Bredwell and Wagner came up with a design that incorporates two freestanding monorail systems, two workstation cranes and eight jib cranes. “We placed two columns at the sides of the VLMs and the other two spanned over the aisle so they would not be in the way. We also extended the rail four feet past the machine so the loading could happen off to the side and not block access to the VLMs,” Bredwell explains. “The trays can roll out of the VLM workstation on a fold-up roller table, so we lined up the rail above the workstations, running the width of the units centered on the depth of the tray. It’s literally just a vertical lift with a hoist of that rail.”  

Final installation of the $8,000 sale was completed in June, and what was once a job for two or more people has been transformed into a one-man operation. “It didn’t really take much convincing—the solution spoke for itself. The customer was provided an ergonomic solution to handle the product and take it from the VLM onto roller tables and onto a cart for transporting to the required area.” The efficiency gain has definitely impressed the customer, as it has led to more sales.  


Customers Get Tired At Morrison Industrial Equipment  

In September 2010, Morrison Industrial Equipment Company (Grand Rapids, MI), held its annual tire sale for the 36th consecutive year. Roughly 6,000 tires worth more than a half a million dollars are sold to end-users each year, and it takes a great team effort between the distributor and its supplier, Maine Industrial Tire, to make sure everyone goes home happy.  

Morrison employees promote the sale all summer when they visit customers and perform service, and a series of mailings and giveaway items remind customers about the upcoming sale. 

Distributor: Morrison Industrial Equipment
Manufacturer: Maine Industrial Tire
Summary: Planning ahead helps tire sale go off without a hitch.

“Our whole staff, from technicians to salespeople to branch managers, are focused on it,” says Morrison President Roger Troost. “It’s a really big deal for our company.” Afterwards, the company holds a dinner and awards ceremony for the staff to recognize the sale’s success.  

As early as June, Morrison Industrial Equipment begins to place orders of the ITL brand based on last year’s numbers. “The benchmark each year is to hit 90 percent of the average of the previous four years,” says Troost. “ITL’s ability to step up and make sure we have enough product has definitely been a key part of making the annual tire sale a success.”  


48 Hours Is Enough for Lift Solutions   

A logistics company based in Sioux City, Iowa, was opening a facility in Ontario, California, to handle televisions being imported into the United States. The president of the company had done business with Lift Solutions (Omaha, NE) when he worked for a previous employer, and called their number again for help with the new Ontario facility.  

A series of Nissan CF50 forklifts were fitted with carton clamps and other attachments to handle imported televisions.

“He knew our capabilities, so he said it was an easy decision for him to call us,” says Lift Solutions Sales Manager Tom Orner. The customer was so confident in Lift Solutions’ abilities, in fact, that he asked them to pull off what seemed to be impossible. The company had just earned the contract and needed to start up a fully functional operation in a six-week time period. They needed sixteen 5,000-pound cushion-tire trucks, some with carton clamps and others with push-pull attachments and scales.  

When Orner heard the urgency of the deal, he contacted his Nissan Forklift rep, Ed Hall. “Ed and I started tracking down trucks to match the customer’s needs,” Orner says. “We only had two days to find out if this was even possible.” Lift Solutions had three in stock, and Hall located more in Nissan’s inventory. The remainder came from other dealers’ inventories. Within the 48-hour window, Hall and Orner tracked down the 16 trucks.  

However, all but one were set up for three-function hydraulics, and the customer’s specs called for four-function hydraulics. “We scrambled to buy the trucks and then purchase conversion kits to meet the specs,” Orner adds. “It involved a lot of conference calls with the customer, keeping them updated with what he had. It was a crazy couple of days.”  

On top of everything else, the customer wanted to do a long-term rental contract on the trucks and was demanding a certain price. “We would have preferred to get this done with pre-owned equipment, but it was too hard to pull that many units together. We had to go with new equipment, so we couldn’t quite get to the price they wanted, but we were close,” Orner says. 

Distributor: Lift Solutions
Manufacturers: Nissan Forklift Corporation, Cascade Corporation
Summary: Manufacturer and distributor pull 16 trucks together from around the country to meet quick turnaround deadline.

When the dust settled, Orner and Hall successfully completed a $700,000 sale. They delivered 15 Nissan CF50LP units, eight with Cascade carton clamps and seven with Cascade push-pull attachments and on-board scales. “Getting the trucks within 48 hours turned out to be the easy part. The next six weeks of purchasing attachments and coordinating all the deliveries was a challenge. Trucks were coming in from all over the country,” Orner recalls. Everything was delivered, with the help of the local servicing Nissan dealer in Southern California, on schedule and to the customer’s satisfaction.  

The project is going so well, in fact, that the customer is looking to add another 150,000 sq. ft. of usable space to its existing 250,000 sq. ft. “The customer is showing nice growth, and we could pick up another 10 to 15 trucks before they’re done,” Orner says. “The customer doesn’t want to be in the forklift business, and we’ve taken them out of it.”  

A satisfied customer and repeat business—it all makes that crazy two-day scramble worth it.  


Vargo Companies Serves And Protects 

Distributor: Vargo Companies
Manufacturer: Sentry Protection Products
Summary: Column protectors prevent injury and expensive repairs in dangerous loading dock area.

American Signature Furniture had an issue at one of its distribution centers that required the company to relocate to an older building in Columbus, Ohio. Unfortunately, the layout of the older building was not ideal. The facility had far more building columns than a typical distribution center would, including a row of columns near the busy loading dock, right in the path of where the trucks were loaded and unloaded. Adding to this tight situation was the fact that they run order pickers with 96-inch-long dock boards, making them very long, very hard to maneuver and very expensive. This dangerous setup was prime for collisions, so the company called on its longtime, trusted material handling partner Vargo Companies (Hilliard, OH) for some help.  

An older building serves as a distribution center with help from column protectors by Sentry Protection Products.

Vargo Companies installed five distribution centers for American Signature in the past, and Sentry Protection Products column protectors were used in all five. So for this one, Jason Bond, Vargo’s allied sales rep, decided to stick with a proven solution. He called Bob Jensen at Sentry, and the two got to business fixing the customer’s problem. “It was a very dangerous area because they had a lot of forklift traffic, people pulling furniture out of the racks and dropping it off to be loaded,” Bond says. “They needed a product that would last through multiple accidental impacts and protect the forklift operators from injury.”  

Bond and Sales Support Rep Cary Tedrow ordered sixty 8-inch-square Column Sentry units, 42 inches tall. “Customer solutions had to be developed for eight different areas,” Bond says. “Those eight places had double columns that needed protection, so we had to use Sentry’s parking garage units to wrap those areas.”  

The $15,000 sale was completed in summer 2009, and the customer is more than pleased with the result. “They used some cheaper alternatives in the past and haven’t gotten the longevity they wanted,” Bond says. “More than a year later, they haven’t had to replace any of these Sentry products. They’re thrilled with the durability.”  

As Bond says, a solution doesn’t have to be glamorous to be effective. Vargo Companies and American Signature Furniture can attest to that.  


MH Equipment Demonstrates Its Worth  

In sales, persistence pays off. Just ask Hersh Atkinson, account rep at the Columbus, Ohio, branch of MH Equipment (Mossville, IL), who had been calling on a large distributor of glass and adhesive products for almost 10 years before finally getting a foot in the door in 2009. “It was a matter of getting the attention of the right people,” Atkinson says. “The decision-makers were closed-minded about the equipment they had on hand and always wanted to stay with the existing vendors. When some new people came on board, they were willing to listen to alternatives.” 

Distributor: MH Equipment
Manufacturer: Hyster Company
Summary: Equipment demonstration and customer support results in $500,000 sale.

The customer was building a large distribution center and put the project out for bid. Atkinson was included on the bid list and went to work preparing a solution. The project included sit-down electric lift trucks for loading and unloading trucks and placing products in racks, as well as reach trucks and order pickers for order fulfillment.  

By demonstrating different models of Hyster Company forklifts, MH Equipment secured an order for 30 trucks.

It wasn’t a simple matter of listing some model numbers and dollar amounts, however. “The customer was adamant about putting the equipment through the paces at an existing location. It couldn’t be just a representative piece of equipment—they wanted something identical to what they would be using,” Atkinson recalls. Pulling the demo together was a logistical challenge. “Their headquarters are in the Midwest, the distribution center was in California, and the demo needed to be on the East Coast where the product manager was located,” Atkinson says.  

Atkinson worked with Hyster Company to round up one of each model of truck that the customer wanted and delivered them to the East Coast location with the help of another Hyster dealer in the area. “You’re only as good as your service after the sale, so our partner dealer was instrumental in delivery and proving that we could support the customer’s needs,” Atkinson says.  

All the hard work paid off with an order of more than 30 trucks worth more than $500,000. Once Atkinson was awarded the deal, he had an eight-week window to build and deliver the units. “That was a challenge for the factory, but the whole team at Hyster pulled through and made it happen,” Atkinson says.  

The customer was so happy with Atkinson and MH that they have since ordered a subsequent project of similar size. Just goes to show what a little persistence can do.  


WW Cannon Mixes It Up  

In December 2004, Phil Mulpagano, account representative at Morse Manufacturing Company, sent a lead to WW Cannon (Dallas, TX). A manufacturer of skin care products in Texas needed a vat to mix chemicals to make its products. Mulpagano’s lead was enough to get the WW Cannon rep in the door, and the rest is history. 

Distributor: WW Cannon
Manufacturer: Morse Mfg. Co.
Summary: Supplier lead results in multiple sales over several years.

The initial sale was for a battery-powered 400A-72-115 drum lifter with a capacity of 800 pounds. The customer liked that it could be placed anywhere in the plant, even without an air supply or power outlet, and could be placed in tight areas that couldn’t be accessed with a forklift.

Thanks to that initial lead from Morse, WW Cannon has since been able to sell eight other Morse products and accessories to this customer, including multiple drum lifters, rotators and more. “Morse is one of our favorite vendors to work with,” WW Cannon inside salesman Chris Bewley says. “Their design department is excellent; they do a lot of specials for us. They have a quality product, stick to their lead times and work out problems. They do a great job.”  


Bastian Gets in the Spirit  

When the Indiana Alcoholic & Tobacco Commission (IATC) approved an application from Southern Wine & Spirits (Southern) of Indiana for a wholesaler’s permit, Southern moved quickly to establish a distribution and sales operation near Indianapolis.  

A carton flow shelving system integrates with a conveyor and static shelving to fulfill a beverage distributor’s need.

A carton flow shelving system integrates with a conveyor and static shelving to fulfill a beverage distributor’s need.

Bastian Material Handling (Indianapolis, IN) President Bill Bastian, Senior Project Engineer Blain Cook and Field Sales Engineer Greg Conner seized the opportunity to partner with this potential customer. “Southern’s new facility was close to our corporate office, and we were finally able to catch their eye,” says Conner.  

Introductions took place in late April. The Bastian team presented a bid and was awarded the project.  

Southern leased a 200,000 sq. ft. facility in Greenwood, just south of Indianapolis, where the Bastian team went to work. First, they helped source the bottle room, a two-level, 14-foot-tall pick module where full cases of wine and liquor are picked for split-case orders. Thirty-six 96-inch-long bays of Unarco RhinoTrac carton flow shelving make up the floor-level section. The split cases are then sent along a Hytrol gravity conveyor to the end of the module, where a series of inclines takes them to a second level filled with static Lyon Workspace shelving. The second level is for slower-moving items that are added to the cases before the final order is sent to the dock for shipping. Outside the bottle room, the remainder of the warehouse is filled with re-used pallet racking from one of Southern’s existing facilities outside the state. 

Distributor: Bastian Material Handling
Manufacturers: Unarco Material Handling, Lyon Workspace Products, Hytrol Conveyor Company
Summary: Distributor secures future business thanks to timely delivery and daily attendance at customer site.

“Southern’s Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Bobby Burg and Senior Director of Operations–West Mark Booth knew exactly what they wanted and had a great understanding of the industry,” Conner says. “This allowed us to focus on executing the project quickly and efficiently to make sure everything arrived on time.”

As a premier integrator for Unarco Material Handling, Bastian was able to work with Brian Boals, Unarco’s director of distributor sales, to logistically coordinate Bastian’s plans for future projects and free up enough capacity to complete the installation according to the schedule.  

Meeting the short delivery schedule was crucial, as was the ability for Bastian to easily visit the customer site. “Southern’s supply chain headquarters are in Miramar, Florida, but our corporate office is only about 20 minutes away from their Indiana distribution center,” Conner says. “This proximity allowed us to have someone on site on a daily basis to be our eyes and ears for the project.”  

The roughly half-million-dollar installation completed phase one of a two-phase project. Conner and his team have had the opportunity to bid on additional Southern Wine & Sprits projects.  


Riekes Goes from the Ground Up  

When it comes to designing a storage & handling system for a customer, the best-case scenario is always working from a blank slate and designing the warehouse to fit the system, rather than vice versa. Riekes Material Handling Company (Waukee, IA) found itself in that blank-slate situation when an existing customer, an Iowa-based medical device manufacturer, approached the company about a warehouse they were building. 

Distributor: Riekes Material Handling Company
Manufacturer: Steel King Industries
Summary: Distributor designs pallet rack layout around customer’s forklift choice.

“They had a general idea of the footprint that they wanted,” says Riekes Sales Representative Mike Bruckshaw. “They brought it to us, and we came up with a preliminary rack layout that they used to come up with the building’s final design.” To develop the layout, Bruckshaw first had to determine what sort of system would work best for the customer. He investigated the model of lift trucks they were purchasing—quad-mast, three-wheel sit-down riders from Clark. He also analyzed the number of SKUs that needed to be stored, which turned out to be more than 2,000, and how high the rack would have to be to store them.

With his research completed, Bruckshaw determined that SK2000 series roll-formed selective rack from Steel King with Nashville Wire decking was the best solution. The installation also included several over-the-door empty pallet storage rack locations. “The empty pallet storage system was especially interesting,” says Bruckshaw. “Since we were involved with the project from the start, we worked with the concrete manufacturer to embed 36 steel plates into the wall. Then we welded the rack supports directly into the wall to make a cleaner and more structurally sound installation.”  

The $120,000 system featured 1,307 wire decks and 200 uprights for a storage capacity of more than 2,000 pallet positions. Bruckshaw credits the Steel King product with helping him close the deal. “The customer really built a first-class facility, and Steel King’s superior quality was a good fit.” he explains.  

Thanks to the layout work done by Riekes and the quality provided by its suppliers, the customer was able to expand its warehouse in the most efficient way.  

With those kinds of results, it’s easy to see why this long-time Riekes customer keeps coming back for more.  

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association