News Story
4 minute read

UniCarriers merger ahead of schedule

Thursday, 4 April 2013 ( #610 ) - Tokyo, Japan
UniCarriers has completed the operational integration of the Nissan and TCM forklift businesses one year ahead of its original schedule. When the agreement was first entered into, shareholders estimated the integration to settle in April 2014. Ken Matsumura, UniCarriers Corp general manager of strategy, tells Forkliftaction.com News when UniCarriers Corp was established in August 2012, the management aimed instead to complete the integration in the northern spring this year (Forkliftaction.com News #576). UniCarriers will change its company name to UniCarriers Holdings Corporation and will become the holding company of Unicarriers Group. An attachment-producing division of Nissan Forklift, which was established in 1947, will now be integrated into the formerly TCM-owned Biwako tech Corp. Matsumura declined to provide details of the division's production output or employee numbers. Biwako tech, established in 1996, designs and produces forklift attachments. The UniCarriers Group now owns Biwako tech Corp and will change its name to Global Component Technologies. The new management of UniCarriers Holding Corp from 1 April consists of Satoru Omori (president and CEO); Hidetoshi Shibata (director); Kazuki Kawabe (director); Hideo Arahata (director); Bunsei Kure (director); Takeshi Sekine (auditor); Fumio Shibano (auditor); and Hideaki Kubo (auditor). Other high-level posts include: Akira Shiki, general manager of product merchandising and purchasing divisions; Ken Matsumura, general manager of corporate strategy and administration divisions; Shinji Fujita, general manager of R&D division; Masahiro Hiketa, general manager of manufacturing division; Kei Kitagawa, general manager of finance & accounting division; Takahiro Iwasaki, general manager of Japan sales division; Peter Kruse, general manager of Americas division; Hideki Hamada, general manager of product merchandising division (special and construction vehicles); and Toru Morita, general manager of component division. UniCarriers' shareholders are the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ), 53.3%; Hitachi Construction, 26.7%; and Nissan Motor, 20.0%. The Japanese government passed a special law for industrial revitalisation in creating INCJ and provides the group's primary funding. INCJ is investing JPY30 billion (USD386.4 million) in UniCarriers. Meanwhile, Roger Renstrom reports that UniCarriers Corp's division for the Americas is taking the next steps in integrating the operations of Nissan Forklift Corp North America and TCM America. The Marengo-based entity, UniCarriers Americas Corp, is transitioning the brand equities of Nissan Forklift and TCM to the UniCarriers identity, which has an italicised blue-and-green logo on a light gray background. The brand transition will occur over two to three years. The endorsement "by UniCarriers" will appear as a subtext with the existing Nissan, TCM and Barrett lines of forklifts in the Americas starting 1 June 2013. "We are operating as one company with multiple brands," says Peter Kruse, president of UniCarriers Americas, in an interview with Forkliftaction.com News. Kruse acknowledges that the company has a new name, but says that the experienced workforce, high-quality processes and "best-in-class products" remain the same. With regard for marketing, "we have a strong brand we can build from," says Jim Radous, UniCarriers Americas vice president of sales and marketing. "It is a multi-year process to make the transfer. We are working with experts in branding, and we have the dealers involved. We know it will require investment to build and transition the brand." UniCarriers Americas aims to build marketshare, Kruse says. For starters, managers have combined the existing, and in some places overlapping, Nissan Forklift and TCM dealership networks without restrictions but with the intention of eventually identifying which operators are capable of, and willing to support, growing the UniCarriers Americas program. UniCarriers Americas employs about 400 staff for all functions and has a network of more than 235 authorised dealerships with in excess of 350 locations across North, Central and South America. "As we grow our volume, we will add employees to support that growth," Kruse notes. Prior to the UniCarriers combination, Nissan Forklifts in the Americas had more than 115 authorised forklift dealerships with about 225 locations. Kruse believes the UniCarriers Americas' combination of resources, technical service and brand will create a stronger market presence. The Marengo site complies with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certifications, giving credence to UniCarriers Americas' commitment to operate as a green company. Kruse notes the emphasis on low-emission engines, limitations on the amount of plant-generated landfill waste and other efforts to minimise environmental impacts. An existing TCM site in West Columbia, South Carolina provides some support for service and dealer requirements but no longer has manufacturing capabilities. Japan-based TCM began forklift production in West Columbia in 1989. That manufacturing was discontinued in April 2010, together with related distribution and parts operations in New Jersey and Texas, and the production equipment was shipped back to Japan. Kruse emphasises that the business of UniCarriers Americas will have a customer-centric approach, collaborative arrangements and an innovative spirit.
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