Getting to know Allan Leibowitz

Local News
- 12 Nov 2020 ( #1000 )
4 min read
Allan Leibowitz (Photo courtesy of IFOY)
Allan Leibowitz (Photo courtesy of IFOY)
Allan Leibowitz has been editor of Forkliftaction News since 2007. He joined with significant media experience, having worked in radio in South Africa, and newspapers and magazines in Europe and in Australia.
As we mark our 1,000th edition, we asked him about his time with Forkliftaction:

FLA: What has been your biggest achievement at Forkliftaction?
AL: Some might see my longevity - 13 years with the newsletter and more than 700 editions - as an achievement, but the wonderful team at Forkliftaction has made this a real pleasure.
I think my biggest achievement has probably been attending and reporting on major international trade shows, starting with CeMAT in Germany in 2016, while still producing the weekly news. It has meant some very long days, attending the show and conducting an average of 10 interviews each day and then going back to the hotel to write and edit the rest of the industry news from around the world. And it's especially demanding when dealing with jetlag after trips which have stretched to 30 hours and beyond.

FLA: What excites you most about the materials handling industry?
AL: Materials handling is everywhere - from supermarkets to ports and factories. I had little knowledge about forklifts before joining the company, and I have enjoyed learning about these machines, the companies behind them and the people leading those companies. It has been a real eye-opener spending time with industry leaders, especially those who have shown me around their factories and taken the time to demonstrate their machines and explain their perspectives on the industry. It's also been fascinating speaking to fleet managers and end-users and getting insight into the myriad of applications for handling equipment. And all that knowledge and experience helps not only to determine the news value of the developments we hear about, but also assists in my role on the jury of the International Forklift of the Year (IFOY) contest and in facilitating industry events. What's really exciting is that regardless of the economic cycle, there's always activity in materials handling, always new products and applications and an abundance of interesting people at all levels in the industry.

FLA: What is the most significant change you have seen in the industry in your time?
AL: Over the years, we have seen waves of consolidation among manufacturers. The first was aimed at creating economies of scale. Then, as we witnessed the rise of Chinese manufacturers and their growing exports, we saw the major brands buy Chinese competitors or form joint ventures with them so that they could expand their ranges to include the value models for which the Asians were best known. And, more recently, we have observed mergers and acquisitions with warehouse automation and robotics manufacturers which have allowed the 'big guys' to offer full portfolios of materials handling solutions. These changes also demonstrate one of the constants in the industry: the need to adapt and diversify.

FLA: What is the biggest opportunity that you see for the materials handling industry?
AL: E-commerce has been one of the most significant developments of recent times, and it has transformed warehousing and distribution. Materials handling has had to adapt from the supply of big machines that move pallets to nimble devices capable of picking single items. This trend, combined with a shortage of skilled labour, presents huge opportunities for automation and robotics, and those manufacturers which have diversified away from standard forklifts will find new business prospects from existing customers as well as demand from areas they've never reached before. But, at the same time, there is huge scope for niche manufacturers, especially those able to meet specific demands associated with narrow aisles, bulky loads, fragile cargo and tough environments.
They say fortune favours the brave, and in materials handling, the opportunities are there for those willing to consider new and innovative solutions.

FLA: Can you share one piece of information about yourself which would surprise our readers?
AL: I have a parallel life in the drumming world - both as a performing drummer and as a music journalist. In the pre-COVID world, I was in a number of gigging bands and have played at some of the best venues in my home town, Brisbane. I even got the opportunity to play at a Forkliftaction Christmas party one year. Maybe I'll manage to get my two worlds to converge and put together an impromptu band with some other materials handling folk at a future conference or trade show. Any volunteers willing to join The Good Tynes Band?
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