Goodbye Linde, hello KION

News Story
- 20 Nov 2014 ( #694 ) - Summerville, SC, United States
3 min read
KION in Summerville, South Carolina
KION in Summerville, South Carolina
Materials handling equipment powerhouse KION Group AG is changing the identity of its North American business.

Effective 1 January, the Summerville-based operations will be known legally as KION North America Corp, instead of its nine-year-old name, Linde Material Handling North America Corp. New signage is posted at the two-building 55-acre campus fronting on US Highway 78.

"The continued development and growth of our organisation in North America is extremely important for the KION Group, (and) it is one of the key elements of our Strategy 2020, which we are pursuing with the aim of significantly extending our global reach," says Gordon Riske, chief executive officer of the KION Group of Wiesbaden, Germany. "We want to move away from being a niche provider and become a significant market player in North America under the KION name."

Brian Butler, North America president and CEO, says, "We will even further strengthen our Linde brand with additional product offerings while at the same time grow the Still brand through future developments" targeting specific requirements of the US, Canadian and Mexican markets.

A dozen new products are in the pipeline, and KION is implementing North American sales and aftersales projects and, soon, establishing a fleet management and finance system.

KION says its strategic objective for the US market is to double marketshare over several years from the current 2% to between 4% and 5%.

Summerville operations have a staff of 140 with the potential for doubling amid current hiring for engineering and production positions. The plant has an annual capacity to produce more than 10,000 forklifts and utilises a nationwide sales and service network with about 100 dealers.

KION says its North American origins go back to the 19th century. In 1898, electric car maker Baker Motor Co was founded in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1967, Baker acquired the industrial truck manufacturer Moto-Truc. In 1977, Baker Material Handling became part of Linde AG. In 1985, Linde-Baker opened the forklift truck plant in Summerville, and Linde Material Handling North America Corp became the identity in 2005.

Munich, Germany-based industrial gases and engineering company Linde AG separated its materials handling businesses into a new independent company, KION Group, in 2006.

KION Group has six brands: Linde, Still, Fenwick, OM Still, Baoli and Voltas. The group is the largest manufacturer of forklift trucks in western and eastern Europe and number two globally behind the industrial equipment unit of Toyota Industries Corp. In 2013, the KION Group employed more than 22,000 staff and generated revenue of EUR4.5 billion (USD6.2 billion).

In early September, KION's Voltas Material Handling Pvt Ltd unit in Pune, India moved to change its name to KION India Pvt Ltd in another move to align with the parent company's operations. KION India will continue to utilise the Voltas and Baoli brand names in marketing materials handling equipment in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

KION Group ownership has included 75% held by a consortium of New York-based private equity companies Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co LP and Goldman Sachs Group Inc's capital partners unit and 25% held by Weichai Power Co Ltd of Weifang, China, a subsidiary of Shandong Heavy Industry Group Co Ltd. Shares of KION Group are publicly traded on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

In a symbolic milestone ceremony on 14 November, company executives, government officials and Linde employees simultaneously cut ribbons wrapping seven palmetto trees outside the company's North American headquarters in Summerville.
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