After proving himself as an Australian Champion Motorcycle Racer, in 1985 Todd Brennan turned to materials handling and never looked back. As Forkpro Australia celebrates its 20-year milestone, the CEO takes a moment to reflect on the last two decades.
My entry into materials handling was with Toyota Industrial Equipment back in 1985. I had a serious hobby at the time as an Australian motorcycle racer and I did OK there, even having a regular column in a national magazine and running a race team after my racing days.
At the time, I also ran a racing academy. I loved seeing people progress through and become national champs themselves and even MotoGP racers. It gives me a real buzz - even today - knowing those household names that went to my academy.
During my work with Toyota, I found materials handling to be an interesting industry and worked through several roles – one of which saw me representing Toyota Industrial Equipment on the Australian Standards committees and taking a keen interest in forklift safety. Eighteen years later, I decided to head off and start Forkpro Australia.
When I was establishing the business, a main concern was doing what was affordable. I even borrowed a car for a while before we had enough cash flow. And, of course, I worked from home for a while. I cannot thank some our foundation clients enough: they gave me a turbo boost at the beginning. Especially Toyota Material Handling and Dairy Farmers (now Bega) who were our first clients and still are.
I believe the fact that we are still here after 20 years and still with a number of our foundation clients is an indication of our success as a business.
Reflecting on our longevity, one of our biggest strengths is that we do not run public courses as such, other than in one location. Our strength is supporting our clients by being on their site. Trying to keep several training venues viable would take away our focus.
Our trainers and assessors are very knowledgeable about industry, and they love being out on-site with the users. We also work very closely with our clients from an administrative viewpoint in trying to ensure we can meet their needs.
As a company, we have survived remarkably well over some tough times, including the last three years of the pandemic and the GFC. However, our three main keys to survival have been sticking to our strengths, assembling a great team and controlling growth.
At Forkpro Australia, we have always been realistic that the field we are working in will not support a national network of branches. While we could have opened branches all around the country to service our national clients, we choose to utilise strategically placed resources to provide support instead.
Looking to the future, we need to expand the business but also keep in our lane. Making ourselves the one-stop-shop for clients is the key. If they need training, we want to be the ones to supply it. That is where we are heading. I have tried to make the business not just about me. I want the brand to be known as the industry expert, so it is around for decades to come – not just until I retire.
I just appointed a general manager of the business, and I will be letting go of the leash to some degree. But I will still be here. I cannot see a time I will not be involved in forklift safety such as working with the Australian Forklift and Industrial Truck Association, of which I am an executive committee member. We also donate some training time to certain charities that use forklifts. As we can afford it, we will increase our charitable donations.
Work in materials handling? The Forklift Diaries would love to hear your story!