Briggs Equipment has retained all of its existing customers and made significant inroads into new markets a year after it signed an exclusive UK distribution deal with Yale.
According to Briggs CEO Richard Close, the partnership has given the company access to a much wider range of "world-class products" while its success in converting 100% of its customers to Yale reflects something more fundamental.
"The fact that we have not lost a single customer proves something to us - our customers are loyal to Briggs rather than a brand of truck," Close says. "This is because we entwine our operations with those of our customers. When they feel pain, we feel pain."
A UK forklift industry veteran told Forkliftaction.com News
in its coverage of the Briggs-Yale partnership last year that the average UK forklift customer did not have product brand loyalty. "He only wants the use of a forklift at the lowest price and have it repaired promptly if it breaks down," he said (Forkliftaction.com News #469)
Scott Bullock, Briggs' intelligence and marketing specialist, tells Forkliftaction.com News
that the company's customers are loyal to the Briggs brand. He credits Briggs' efficient communications for bringing all its customers to the Yale forklift brand. "This is an example of where good, honest communication kept customers informed on important matters, and happy and loyal to our brand."
Bullock explains that Briggs account managers personally contacted each of their customers to explain the conversion process and how it would either be "business as usual" or that it would improve their business.
"This was supplemented by rich content email, trade advertising and traditional hardcopy letter. At the point of change and a number of stages since then, extensive customer satisfaction surveys were executed. The results were both positive and extremely encouraging," he says.
Frank Ulbricht, vice president of EMEA sales for Yale parent NMHG, is equally enthusiastic about the partnership.
"As well as increasing marketshare, we have also seen a dramatic increase in brand recognition and the relationship with Briggs is working particularly well at a strategic level," he says.
"We have been particularly impressed by Briggs' professionalism, interesting customer base and its well-organised rental fleet. We are now looking at targeting more major accounts together with national and international companies, particularly in the warehouse and logistics sectors," Ulbricht adds.
Meanwhile, Close believes that the companies' success is accompanied by challenges ahead. "Thanks to Yale's expertise in developing special engineering options, we can now provide bespoke products that meet the individual needs of each and every customer. The competition is really sitting up and taking notice of the Briggs-Yale relationship now.
"We see this as being very positive, as we are serious about positioning Briggs and Yale, two great names in materials handling, at the top of the premier league."
Despite a difficult economy in the next 12 months, Close is confident of the opportunities for the partnership.
"We have a unique opportunity to differentiate ourselves in the market. Our main advantage is the combination of the world-class product development and manufacturing technology offered by Yale and the world-class service offered by Briggs' people, who are a fantastic team of individuals," he says.
Yale's parent company, NACCO Materials Handling, had a 2010 turnover of USD1.8 billion. Briggs' parent, Sammons Enterprises Inc, is privately owned with a net worth of almost USD4 billion.