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Crown taps Clark for Hamech production
Wednesday, 5 Oct 2011 ( #534 ) - Lexington, KY, United States
News Story
Clark Material Handling Co will succeed Komatsu Forklift USA LLC (KFI) as a supplier of certain Hamech-brand internal combustion-powered forklifts to Crown Equipment Corp.

Crown of New Bremen, Ohio disclosed the change in a 28 September message that was sent through its North American distribution channels. Crown owns the Hamech brand.

Beginning in January, Lexington-based Clark will supply Crown dealers initially with Hamech demonstration units and then commercial production models. News has learned that Clark plans to manufacture the Hamech forklifts at a factory in Changwon, South Korea.

Now, KFI builds Hamech forklifts at a facility in Newberry, South Carolina.

Clark and Crown issued a joint statement:

"Clark Material Handling Co and Crown Equipment Corp have entered into an agreement whereby Clark will supply Crown with certain privately branded internal combustion trucks for distribution by Crown to factory stores and a limited number of independent Crown dealers in the United States and Canada. It is not expected that this arrangement will have any significant impact on the operations of either organisation."

Clark has roots in materials handling equipment back to 1917. Young An Hat Co Ltd of Bucheon, South Korea owns Clark.

KFI comments: "We do not expect this change to have a detrimental effect on our future business because our sales of Hamech trucks have already declined over the last two years. By focusing on our Komatsu brand, we will strengthen our dealers and improve our position in the marketplace."

Privately owned Crown has significant presence in the electric forklift market, and the Crown sales team with the Hamech brand continues to make inroads in the internal combustion market.

In January 2008, Crown Equipment announced it had entered into an agreement with KFI to manufacture the new brand of Hamech internal combustion forklifts for Crown distribution.

The Hamech line entered the North American commercial market in March 2008 with the model range based on existing KFI products.

The addition of the Hamech brand enabled Crown dealers to offer a comprehensive selection of internal combustion forklifts as a complement to Crown’s core electric line.

In another initiative, Crown began in-house manufacturing of its first internal combustion forklift line in late 2009. The C-5 Series of cushion- and pneumatic-tyre forklifts has lifting capacities of 4,000-6,500 lb. (1,800-2.925 kg) and a diesel-based engine that Crown and the Deere & Co power systems group jointly developed.

The Hamech product range utilises liquefied petroleum gas, gasoline and diesel engines in various configurations for Class 5 pneumatic- and Class 4 cushion-tyre forklifts. Lifting capacities range from 3,000-35,000 lb. (1,350-15,750 kg). The Class 5 versions come in five series, and the Class 4 version in one series.

The change raises another question about KFI operations.

KFI closed a free-standing Covington, Georgia manufacturing facility in August 2009 and moved production-related equipment to the consolidated Newberry site where several Komatsu America Corp entities have operations.

KFI discontinued sale of Tusk-brand forklifts effective 31 July 2010 because of the prolonged economic downturn. KFI began using a dual Komatsu-Tusk branding and distribution strategy after the acquisition of the Kalmar AC brand in 1999 and its renaming to the Tusk identity in 2005.

KFI notes: "Komatsu has had a good OEM relationship with Crown since 2007, and it is regrettable that this relationship must end. However, after Komatsu Forklift merged with Komatsu Construction and Mining and adopted a single-brand strategy, we realised that our relationship with Crown could not continue. Komatsu learned from our experience with the Dresser joint venture just how difficult it is to manage multiple brands. The Tusk and Hamech brands do not fit with our global strategy."

Tokyo-based Komatsu Ltd’s regional subsidiary Komatsu America oversees 12 equipment manufacturing, marketing, financing and distribution facilities (including the Newberry plant) and more than 30 corporate entities (including KFI) in the North American market. The subsidiary’s headquarters and finance offices are in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.
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