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Company Profile: OKI Systems Ltd
Monday, 21 Apr 2008 ( #357 ) - CINCINNATI, OH, United States
Industry Profile
OKI employees processing a parts order.
OKI Systems Ltd, arguably the largest forklift dealer in the mid-west region of the US, was recently honoured as a 2007 Deloitte Cincinnati 100 company. The honour recognises companies that play a vital role in the area’s economy.

The company was founded by Gary and Joan Thompson in 1970. Gary started in the materials handling industry with a leading US Clark forklift dealer. At that time, the dealer represented both Clark and Crown forklifts.

"Crown was a small but up-and-coming force in the materials handling business," says an OKI spokeswoman.

However, when it became apparent that Clark and Crown would compete against each other, Gary worked out a deal with his employer to represent Crown through his own company, OKI Systems.

OKI Systems started in the basement of the Thompsons’ Ohio home before moving to a building on Century Boulevard in Cincinnati. Today, the dealer representing Crown, Komatsu, Hamech and Doosan forklifts and other brands of used equipment has over 400 employees working from seven branches in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

OKI won’t disclose its market share for competitive reasons, but says it "consistently maintains the highest annual market share for electric forklifts" with the highest overall sales revenue in significant parts of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and a part of south-eastern Illinois. Its forklift parts inventory is worth USD3 million, and its forklift rental fleet consists of 1,000 mobile units and 2,000 supporting products.

Insiders say the company owes its success to its customer-first mentality.

"It started with Gary Thompson’s personal attention to the customer. Gary was a true partner with his customers in every sense of the word. He would respond to their needs as if their business was his own," the OKI spokeswoman says.

The spirit of OKI is the "CEO’ philosophy that infuses the company culture. "CEO", she says, represents the balancing of interests between Customers, Employees and OKI.

It was Thompson who instilled the value of developing and promoting people from within the organisation.

He enjoyed watching employees grow and succeed.

Company CEO David Reder is a fine example of an employee who grew with the company. He started in OKI doing sales in 1980. He helped the Indianapolis branch take off and later managed the operation as general manager. He eventually became OKI executive vice president and has been president and CEO since 1998.

"We do not place the pursuit of profit above the long-term best interests of our customers, our company or our employees. We hire the best people and provide them with the training and support they need to succeed," Reder says.

Under the "CEO" spirit that permeates the company’s customer service training and culture, equilibrium is strived for but the company understands that the customer’s interest will inevitably rest higher because, as CEO Dave Reder explains, "without the customer there is no business".

All OKI service vans are fitted with GPS units.
To maintain customer relationships and trust, OKI’s 173 service technicians are an important component in the machinery of the company. As a one-stop shop selling a full line of materials handling equipment including batteries and chargers, a large part of OKI’s success rests on providing timely and satisfactory customer service. That is why OKI outfitted its 185 service vehicles with GPS units six years ago.

Initially OKI’s technicians were concerned with how the units would be used. GPS units would enable their vehicle position and speed to be viewed and accessed by supervisors via a computer screen. However, there was no real objection to their use which had been lowering OKI’s fuel costs, increasing its maintenance savings and improving response time to customer requests.

"The majority of our technicians quickly realised that if they were conducting business properly, having GPS was no big deal and that it produced benefits for them and OKI," the spokeswoman says

She says to boost its market share and revenues, OKI will continue doing what it does best.

"We will continually improve and adapt to meet the changing needs of our customers and our employees."
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