Local Feature story

Forkliftaction turns 20

Wednesday, 15 July 2020 ( #983 )
Michael and team members at CeMAT
Michael and team members at CeMAT
Melissa Barnett reflects on two decades of materials handling publishing innovation. Did you know that Forkliftaction is older than the Apple iPad, which was released the same year that Forkliftaction celebrated its 10-year milestone - 2010? I don't know about you, but these days, I open my iPad about once a year while 73,000 people open Forkliftaction each week - in our world, that is cause for celebration. This year Forkliftaction celebrates 20 years delivering news and connection to the global materials handling community, and the achievement, says Ann Hofmans, CEO of Forkliftaction Media, is due to its committed readers, advertisers and a dedicated team of professionals delivering content and service. When leaders in the materials handling industry, such as Bill Montwieler, former executive director of the Industrial Truck Association (ITA), are still reading your news even in retirement, you must be doing something right. "Forkliftaction was always valuable to me because the audience it reaches is universal and deep. I continue to look at it, long after my retirement, because of the breadth of its coverage. Thanks for your help in the past and good luck for the next 20," says Montwieler. In the decade since 2010, digital technology has developed at warp speed. It was with timely foresight that Forkliftaction Media's founding director, Michael Leu, bypassed hard copy publishing in favour of a pure digital platform.
The team visiting Chalmers in Brisbane Port
The team visiting Chalmers in Brisbane Port
In the past decade, we have seen the decline of many print publications and almost as many digital media platforms, so what keeps Forkliftaction at the front of the game? Leu believes that, first and foremost, it is the people that make Forkliftaction stand out. "Forkliftaction has always attracted smart and committed people. We may be a small team but we punch above our weight and we can be nimble in the face of adversity because of our size," says Leu. "Forkliftaction has always believed in mentoring team members and collaborating on ideas and, because of that, our team is invested and interested in the company and our customers." As well as loyal people, Leu says Forkliftaction's additional strength lies in delivering a news service which is timely, relevant and factual. "We don't believe in publishing industry gossip or news that isn't relevant and well researched," he says. Remaining relevant in a rapidly changing media landscape, particularly for a small company in a niche industry, can be challenging, but Forkliftaction consistently delivers. "It is always nice to receive an update on Thursday morning about what is happening in our industry and in the market. Forkliftaction is unique in our industry; you are always well informed about the newest facts. (Forkliftaction has) done good work in uniting our industry on an independent platform," says long-time Forkliftaction supporter Bernard de Meester, TVH Parts board member. Leu's intention was always to connect the materials handling world in a way that hadn't been done before by providing a platform and voice for everyone from management to field personnel. "Forkliftaction has an archive storing 20 years of industry news, a network of industry experts available 24/7 to assist with technical and professional advice and know-how, safety and business blogs, as well as many other resources," explains Hofmans. "Customer participation was integral to this plan and the ability to have customers contribute their experience and knowledge via the online forums and as contributing columnists has ensured that content remains relevant."
Danny Marron
Danny Marron
Danny Marron, CEO of Canadian Forklift Driver Training company Ideal Forklifts, is one of Forkliftaction's longest contributors, "In 2007, Allan Leibowitz (Forkliftaction's editor) reached out to me to contribute to the Safety First Column. I have also been called upon to comment on controversies within the forklift industry and am proud to do so. Forkliftaction works hard to highlight the industry. There is no better site. As I tell my students and their managers, Forkliftaction is the bible of the materials handling industry online. No other site that I am aware of can compete with the wealth of information this site has to offer," says Marron.
Olivier Janin
Olivier Janin
While connecting business-to-business is important, so too is connecting the materials handling industry with its peak bodies. From its earliest days, Forkliftaction has understood the importance of and supported the work that organisations such as ITA, FEM, ICHCA AITT, BITA, CITA, MHEDA and others do in ensuring the industry is a safer and better regulated environment. "Over the years, Forkliftaction has become a major channel to disseminate business developments, innovations and trends throughout the industry globally. Whilst social media has transformed the way companies communicate and news spreads, Forkliftaction has the agility and edge to remain a preferred medium, the go-to platform to know what's going on and what's coming up in our industry," says Olivier Janin, secretary general of FEM.
Adam Smith
Adam Smith
Forkliftaction has been fortunate to have forged strong connections with these organisations and is always delighted that the relationship can be mutually beneficial. Adam Smith, managing director of UK Association of Industrial Truck Trainers (AITT), observes, "Forkliftaction supports networking and a sense of community within our industry that has enabled organisations like AITT to make new connections. We have grown significantly over recent years and it's great to know that the services we offer and developments we have achieved are being shared and promoted widely by platforms like Forkliftaction. "Industry media has an important role to play in highlighting news and events from around the world. Offering a platform for various industry voices means different ideas and opinions can be heard, which allows us all to learn from each other." However, the news remains at the heart of it all, according to Liz Richards, CEO of US-based Material Handling Equipment Distributors America (MHEDA). "Forkliftaction is a trusted news source and the industry has benefitted from the cutting-edge information they provide. The materials handling industry has suffered from a lack of awareness and Forkliftaction has helped to change that by focusing on the importance of the forklift industry and the critical function of materials handling to achieve supply chain efficiency. We at MHEDA are most grateful for their partnership and for keeping their readers informed of the education, networking and information resources available through MHEDA."
Machinery on-Q
Machinery on-Q
Leu and Hofmans have always run a lean ship but that has not meant that innovation has been neglected. During the past decade, Forkliftaction continuously introduced new features and improvements. In 2017 Forkliftaction launched Machinery-onQ.com, which saw the previous Marketplace get a dedicated sister platform specialised in facilitating the trading of machinery from forklifts, container handlers, aerial work platforms and other mobile industrial machinery. Last year, the platform Forkliftacton.com as well as its news edition emails were given a complete make-over. The system got a technical overhaul, a clean, well thought-out and user-sensitive format, compatible with mobile phones, and regional targeting capabilities. The news service added local news columns for each world region. Advertisers can now geo-target their messages to the specific markets in which they operate. And just this year, in response to the hard-hitting COVID-19 pandemic, Forkliftaction opened a Virtual Expo and introduced a 'like-system' that allows companies to express their appreciation for showcased products.
Ann at tradeshow
Ann at tradeshow
After 20 years in business, there has to be something very special that keeps you motivated, Hofmans says, explaining that Forkliftaction is a fun project, a respected voice in the industry and a group of passionate professionals, "Running a publishing company is not easy in current times. But it is very rewarding work as, no matter how enormous and varied the voices available online, business people still need and respect the one source of information they trust and can rely on. I mostly treasure the team of skilled and passionate professionals that work with me: my team. The success of a small business like this depends heavily on the positive minds, creativity and dedication of its team. Finally, this business would not exist or survive without the full-hearted and unwavering support, belief and enthusiasm from the founder himself! Thank you, Michael!"
And from Michael Leu: "Over 20 years, I have met many good people in this industry. We have had our challenges but, like steel, those times have tempered and strengthened the company. We have risen, and while Forkliftaction remains relevant and interesting, we will continue to connect and inform the materials handling industry. From day one, I have had the support and talent of dedicated people, especially Forkliftaction's CEO, and a number of the team have been with me for well over a decade, which is truly inspiring. I believe Forkliftaction just gets better with age, like me!"