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Hurricanes drive equipment demand

Wednesday, 27 Sep 2017 ( #840 ) - United States
News Story
Texas National Guard soldiers arrive in Houston, Texas to aid citizens in heavily flooded areas. PHOTO: STARS AND STRIPES
Special investigation by Allan Leibowitz

Areas of Florida and Texas face a huge clean-up challenge and it is feared that materials handling equipment may be in short supply in the wake of the recent hurricanes.

The Modern Group, based in Pennsylvania, warns that "the widespread damage to property is already having a disruptive effect on the industrial equipment markets nationally".
"Demand for new and used equipment will see a significant spike as businesses in Texas and Florida rebuild their operations. Whole fleets of lift trucks will need to be replaced in short order. 
"This is already causing pricing to rise on used equipment and could impact lead times on new equipment due to the demand for truckers carrying relief and rebuilding supplies," the group notes in a message to customers.

Worldwide Forklifts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida was out of business for several days, with no power or communications, according to spokesman Bill Davis.

"We have had several immediate needs for forklift rentals due to storm damage and have been able to assist our clients in a timely fashion. Most notably, we did provide the Red Cross with a forklift and a couple of pallet jacks to aid in their relief efforts for unloading supplies, water, food and basic necessities that were being trucked into the area," he says.

With locations in Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida, Jamco was also left in the dark, without power or telecoms in the wake of the hurricane onslaught.

With operations now back to normal, vice president Tim Jamal notes that "rental equipment is flying out the door".

"We do not have anything available in pneumatics. Just a few 3, 000 lb. cushions and the forklifts 12,000 lb. capacity and greater are available for rent," he says, adding that everything in the core 5,000-8,000 lb forklift range has been snapped up, as have all the 19 ft. scissor lifts".

The emphasis now is on short-term rental to help with clean-up tasks, "but I'm sure in a few weeks, that will change as things normalise".

Rentals have also risen at Andersen Material Handling. Bob DiDia, vice president for the Florida Division, says: "Rentals are way up. We are shipping more units in from our northern branches to fill the demand. Also, hand pallet jacks are sold out."

He says South Florida "dodged a big bullet: it could have been much worse".  

Florida Forklift marketing manager Chris Morgan has seen an increase in used forklift sales as well as new quotes, "however, we have been able to sustain the demand with our inventory".

"We see additional demands from the harder hit counties like Monroe, Collier and Broward on the rise as equipment in those areas may have been damaged or additional units are needed," he notes.

Warehouse Wizard in Fort Lauderdale is also seeing increased purchasing in the wake of the hurricanes. "The shortage as we see is wholesalers," says Mark Novosel, director of operations. "Dealers are trying to retail everything in their stock. They have slowed the turnover process in the sale chain.

"Moving all equipment should be a directive; sitting on the golden egg doesn't mean it will hatch soon. It usually starts to rot," he warns. 

Meanwhile, in Texas, Miller Equipment in Garland, a couple of hours north of Houston, escaped the storms, with not even a cloud in the sky. Nonetheless, director Kam Miller notes "a significant increase in our used equipment business".

"We have also noticed a significant increase in transportation charges for lift trucks and personnel lifts. My gut is that we haven’t seen the tip of the iceberg yet on used truck demand. We have not started to hear from people in the deepest parts of the damage yet and I think they’re still trying to get things dried out and get back to where their facilities are usable again.

"I fear there are lots of folks that don’t realise that their lifts are total losses yet. Many of those machines are still in dealerships being evaluated and many more are still waiting on a technician to get out there and do evaluation and then the sales department will assimilate the bad news," he adds.

Unicarriers and Linde dealer Parkway Systems has seen an increase in activity in its parts and service departments "due to customers running the equipment longer hours in order to keep up with the excess demand placed on them during the disruptions in the supply chain," says parts manager Jonathan Ward. " A substantial amount of product destined for Houston was redirected to surrounding distribution centres which led to the increase. Many firms had to forego maintenance to keep up with the demand. As the logistical issues were resolved, the maintenance is now being dealt with."
He notes the biggest increase in demand was for manual pallet jacks. "The non-profit organisations along with other volunteers are not certified on electric pallet jacks or forklifts, so the operations were limited to manual jacks."

Relief and recovery

Meanwhile, charity and relief efforts continue.

Doosan Bobcat is donating over USD325,000 worth of Bobcat equipment and Doosan Portable Power light towers and generators to assist with Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma relief efforts.

Jamco has provided 18 forklifts to the Red Cross in Orlando
The company is also providing financial assistance to affected Doosan Bobcat North America dealership employees and their families, and Doosan Bobcat North America employees will direct annual charitable drives toward assisting those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Jamco is helping with the recovery efforts, providing an initial 12 forklifts to the Red Cross in Orlando. Jamco later provided another six forklifts when the Red Cross needs escalated.

Manufacturer JLG Industries assisted in the delivery of more than 60,000 lb. (27,000 kg) of supplies and food to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Working with local communities, the company coordinated drives at its facility in Hagerstown, Maryland and those in Bedford, McConnellsburg, and Shippensburg in Pennsylvania to support Hurricane Harvey flood victims. More than 100 JLG employees volunteered time to work shifts so members of those communities could make donations of personal care items, food and beverages, baby care products, and other needed items.
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