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MHEDA Suppliers Forecast Strong Growth in 2019

MHEDA Suppliers expect continued growth in 2019

MHEDA Suppliers continue to be optimistic going into 2019. With many coming off of record years in 2018, suppliers expect the good times to continue into the new year. While the overall expectations are slightly higher than the distributor projections, suppliers are, by and large, much more concerned with the impact of steel tariffs. Even with that caution, though, MHEDA suppliers are poised for another great year in 2019 as the trends of automation, e-commerce and robotics will continue to be vital parts of the supply chain.

UNEX President Brian Neuwirth expects to see a 10% increase in 2019. The company debuted a new order picking solution that will help drive that growth. Customers looking for specialized pick stations was a trend that has emerged in recent years that Neuwirth expects to continue in 2019. Like many members, Neuwirth cautions that tariffs have the potential to tamp down growth within the industry.

Stellana will see an increase in sales of more than 8% in 2019, according to Director of Global Sales and Marketing Michael Scoon. Scoon expects this to be organic growth based on a gain of market share. “The aftermarket segment should remain strong,” he says. “OEM growth will remain within expectations.” The company will be releasing a new product in the first quarter of 2019 that will improve performance and fill a market need. He expects the industry as a whole to, “remain stable until the end of 2019 with weakness starting. However, the fiscal policies of the White House could change the growth expectations.”

Louis Coleman, Director of Sales and Marketing at Autoquip Corporation, expects to see 5% growth in 2019 compared to 2018. “Aerospace manufacturers spending on systems continues to be strong,” he says. “Distribution continues to be strong. Need for customized lift systems with automation and integration continues to grow.” He also notes that an aging workforce continues to drive manufacturing methodology changes, including a continued desire to automate. Autoquip will add staff in 2019 in manufacturing and engineering.

Crown Battery Mfg. Co. Vice President Mark Kelley forecasts growth of at least 11.6% in 2019 based on innovation and fundamental selling. Crown Battery is prepared to handle that growth in house, but is planning to add additional staff along with more automation. The company is preparing to introduce a new product in the second or third quarter of the year. He forecasts overall growth for the industry but not necessarily in all truck segments. Crown’s most important investment in 2019 will be in its employees.

Tom Rogers, President/CEO of Western Pacific Storage Solutions, expects a 15% increase in 2019. The growth of e-commerce and robotics are the primary drivers for that growth. To handle that growth, Western Pacific Storage Solutions is prepared to add staff to its engineering department. The company does not have plans to release new products in 2019 but to redesign current products, which will be geared toward the e-commerce space. Rogers expects slow but steady growth in the material handling industry in 2019, but like many others raises concerns about inflation. “I think inflation is already impacting business,” he says. “If you’re a manufacturer of steel products, you’re experiencing outrageous steel costs that are passed onto the consumer.” He also notes that customers are becoming more demanding and more well-informed as they have more choices. “The customer satisfaction bar goes up daily,” he says.

President Nathan Andrews of Morse Manufacturing Co., Inc. anticipates growth of less than 5% in 2019 with the main motivator being export shipments. The company will be moving into a new building in the second quarter of the year. Morse will also be debuting a new product in the second quarter, a drum handling feature that will allow for improved efficiency and safety, ideal for the process manufacturing user. Andrews cautions that continued tariffs could tamp down growth for the industry and expects inflation to be an issue that must be contended with in 2019.

Ridg-U-Rak National Sales Manager Dave Olson expects sales to be down in 2019 compared to 2018, as part of a business cycle downturn. Olson expects the industry as a whole to follow that path as well. A trend that Ridg-U-Rak noticed in 2018 that Olson expects to continue in 2019 is an increased growth in online logistics markets. He cautions that, “capital expenditures reductions and corporate hesitations driven by political divides and tensions, interest rates and tariffs,” are some things that could hinder the growth of the industry. The most important investment that the company will be making in 2019 is in training staff and succession planning, as baby boomers continue to retire.

Data Decisions will grow 2-3 times its 2018 sales according to President Matthew Hoffman. Business and labor optimization will be the primary drivers of that growth. Hoffman notes that companies leveraging technology to optimize businesses and streamline costs, especially labor, was a trend he saw in 2018. The company will be releasing “Equipment Service Manager” ESM out of the initial pilot/beta phase in the first quarter of the year. “ESM is a complete dealership management software package with modules for Service, Sales, Customer Portals, and Mobile Technicians.”

Bryan Carey, President of Starrco, forecasts 15% growth in 2019. The cannabis industry continues to be especially strong for Starrco. The company will add staff to accommodate that growth, in both sales and in the shop. “We are excited about our growth potential,” he says. Carey anticipates the entire industry will be strong next year and is unconcerned about inflation.

Pacline Overhead Conveyors President Karl Scholz also forecasts 15% growth for 2019. The company debuted a new product line, which, when paired with a strong world economy, should lead to strong growth for the company in 2019. “The IoT is here and is enabling us to add new functions and features to existing product lines,” he says. Pacline will be adding infrastructure in Ohio in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Quarters. He expects industry growth to be “robust” noting, “Our industry will outpace the general economy as more companies adopt automation to gain efficiency.” He expects inflation to be an issue in 2019, particularly in raw materials and labor.

Hamilton Caster & Mft. Co. Executive Vice President Steve Lippert projects 5-7% growth next year on the back of continued strong underlying economic growth. “I didn’t anticipate the economy being this strong,” he says. “Perhaps the tax refunds contributed.” The company expects to add staff in skilled factory labor as well as inside sales. “We have multiple new product ideas that we will be introducing throughout 2019,” Lippert says. “We will be adding new heavy duty kingpinless stainless steel casters. This caster series broadens our existing line to cover 3″ wide wheels and capacities to 4000 lbs. Stainless steel is a very effective solution for customers who operate equipment in corrosive environments or who expose their equipment to high heat.” As others have noted, Lippert believes inflation is back. “We’ve experienced this from our vendors all year in 2018.”

Bob Herling, President of Tri Lite Inc., expects sales to decrease 3-5% in 2019. That decrease can be tracked back to steel tariffs and Chinese trade issues. Tri Lite will look to add a quality engineer and product manager in 2019, and will be seeking a larger facility next year as well. The company will debut a new product in 3rd Quarter 2019, which Herling calls a “new concept.” The ideal user for this product is manufacturers, distributors and users of loading dock equipment.

Steele Solutions President Kevin O’Neill projects 10% growth in 2019. He sees project size growing, as well as e-commerce and diversification as the primary reasons for that growth. The company expanded its facilities in 2017-2018 and added staff throughout those years to be able to prepare for this growth. O’Neill projects the industry as a whole to be up 5-10% but cautions that interest rates, politics, steel pricing and tariffs could hinder that growth.

Jay Stralo, Sales & Marketing Manager at J & J Service Solutions, projects sales to increase in 2019 based on growth in the retail sector. Quoting activity was way up in 2018, which Stralo expects to carry into the new year. J & J will add staff as well as move into a new building in the 2nd Quarter of 2019. He says that the elections and inflation could hamper growth in the industry.

Bluff Manufacturing COO Ciaran Farrell anticipates 8% growth in 2019. A trend that emerged in 2018 that Farrell expects to continue in 2019 is high raw material costs. Bluff will be releasing new products in the 2nd Quarter and onwards, geared toward the manufacturing industry. Farrell expects the industry to continue to be strong and growing. The Amazon Effect is something that Bluff has had to contend with, as customers expect quicker delivery.

Milt Tandy, Director of Sales & Marketing at WireCrafters, projects 3% growth for the company in 2019, as he expects the overall economy to remain strong. WireCrafters will expand its building in the first quarter of 2019 and will add production workers as well. “Tariffs in general could hinder growth,” says Tandy. He also expects inflation to be an issue that must be dealt with. The most important investment WireCrafters will make next year is in automated equipment.

Noblelift North America will be up 100% compared to where it was in 2018, according to Managing Director of North America Loren Swakow. “We are still new and getting great acceptance,” says Swakow. He expects class III product to continue to grow. Noblelift will add 20% to its staff as it continues to grow. The company will introduce a lithium class III product in the first and second quarter. “With the Chinese tariffs in place, I expect to see more companies from India entering the market.” The company’s exhibit at ProMat will be its most important investment in 2019.

Bruce S. Pelynio, President and CEO of Heli Americas, forecasts 15% growth over 2018 levels, driven by continued expansion of U.S.-based manufacturing and distribution. “The current trade tariffs will hopefully be resolved by mid-year 2019,” he says. The company will release several new lines throughout 2019. He says that increasing interest rates could negatively impact continued market expansion. “There is a continued move to more user-friendly products from the aftermarket service perspective,” Pelynio notes.

TDTOne, Inc. Partner Bill Ryan sees client business growing 5-8% while TDTOne’s grows 50-75% in 2019. “Distribution continues to grow both to keep pace with the general economy and also the customer demands for quicker and faster deliveries.” Trends that Ryan saw emerge in 2018 included a growth in AGVs, telemetry, mobility, lithium ion battery technology and robotics. The company is introducing a new Succession Planning program in the 2nd quarter of the year. “Many owners are phasing out and their children are not prepared to take over their businesses. These owners do not know how to equip their kids with the skills they will need to compete in the 21st century.”

William T LeMeur, EVP of Superior Tire & Rubber Corp., projects 7% growth in 2019 as Superior continues to gain market share. “The consolidation of OEM-owned equipment dealerships appears to be continuing,” he notes. He also says that material handling is required and executed through recessions, albeit at a lower rate of volume. For the industry as a whole, LeMeur sees limited new truck growth with the OEMs fighting for market share. “True inflation has been modest,” he says.

3D Storage Systems Limited President Kevin Minkhorst projects 5% growth in 2019 as the company adds additional sales people and more plant capacity. 3D has added positions in sales, design and fabrication that will all play a role in that growth. 3D will also be rolling out new carton flow products to diversify its line and give dealers more options in the second quarter of the year. He too mentions trade restrictions and inflation as issues that the industry must contend with in 2019.

Hytrol Conveyor Company President David Peacock estimates a 9.7% growth for Hytrol in 2019 based on the economy, a tight labor market and advances in technology. “The difficulty of companies to find the labor they need will continue to spur the adoption of automation,” he says. “We have adopted a product release cycle that presents new products to the market on an on-going basis. While first and fourth quarter releases make adoption of those products in that year more likely, our approach is more long term in nature.” Hytrol’s most important investment in 2019 will be in its employee development and retention programs. He also adds, “We see the steel tariffs being a significant headwind as we move forward.”

Chris Jashinsky, Sales & Marketing Manager at Handle It Inc., sees 15-20% growth in 2019 compared to 2018. Handle It will be adding a 3rd party warehouse in Florida next year. The company will also add a warehouse worker to its staff. He notes that the company has adjusted its offerings to fit the price range of customers who increasingly are looking at price and “not wanting to overpay for product that they don’t need.” He doesn’t anticipate inflation being an issue in 2019.

Toyota Material Handling North America President and CEO Brett Woodexpects a 3-5% decrease in 2019 compared to 2018, based on “a softening of the economy and the lift truck industry is due for a slight correction after an unprecedented 9 years of continuous growth.” Wood notes that the electric powered industrial equipment segment continued to grow, as did automation and telematics, as well as e-commerce. “The material handling industry will continue to be strong and healthy and a strong contributor to our country’s overall supply chain industry.”

Mezzanine Safeti-Gates, Inc. President Aaron Conway forecasts a 3-5% increase in sales in 2019. Conway notes that endusers continue to invest in their facilities to increase sales and efficiency. “We continue to see safety as a priority for companies,” he says. “We expect them to continue to invest in making their facilities more safe.” The company will debut new safety products in the new year, beginning in the first quarter. “Our unique new safety gate design will make traditionally unsafe areas safe,” says Conway.