News story

Fine times for forklifts

Thursday, 12 June 2008 ( #364 ) - Australia
AB Equipment chief executive Steve Antunovich says the company is not seeing a slow-down in business at this stage.
AB Equipment chief executive Steve Antunovich says the company is not seeing a slow-down in business at this stage.
Amid widespread reports of a slowing economy, falling business and consumer confidence and the global credit crunch, Australasia's forklift industry appears amazingly upbeat about business prospects this year. According to Allen Powell, director (marketing/sales) of Adapt-A-Lift Forklift Rentals and Sales, the company has not experienced any slow-down in business. "If anything, our rental (activity), both contract and casual, has increased significantly, with May one of our biggest contract rental months for the past year." He adds that casual hire has also continued to grow consistently every month for the past 11 month period. "On a national and state level, our quote and participation rate is still strong with no signs of abatement." Chris Burns, national accounts manager for Powerlift Nissan, tells Forkliftaction.com News that the company has not seen a slowing in either order intake or enquiry levels even though interest rates have gone up significantly over the past 12 months. "Indeed, if anything, order intake of new trucks has increased whilst sales of used trucks has remained fairly constant," says Burns. He adds that enquiries from major fleet clients have increased dramatically of late, commenting that perhaps the wise buyers are getting in now and locking in interest rates before further increases. Chief executive of New Zealand-based AB Equipment, Steve Antunovich, tells Forkliftaction.com News that the company is certainly not seeing a slow-down in business at this stage. However, he reports seeing a change in what major customers expect from the company. "For example, more fleet management and KPI reporting; much more communication on their fleet costs; a real proactive input from us as materials handling experts on optimising fleet size and composition, and in minimising risk." "Fortunately, because of our position and standing in the market, and the offering we are able to provide the customer, we have won a number of major contracts lately, taking the business from other suppliers. "However, after a golden period of five or six years where a strong NZ dollar has been very beneficial for capital purchases, we expect the market to tighten and our people are prepared to do business in a different way," says Antunovich. He says the company has enjoyed customers coming to it over this period and must now focus on getting out and about, cold calling, selling its offering and really "hustling" for business. He adds that if the expected tightening in the market develops into a recession, past history indicates that some customers will keep their forklifts longer, "meaning more parts and service and short term rental back-up from us". Shaun O'Brien, national sales and marketing manager of Red Australia, says the company has not experienced a decline in sales during this fiscal year and its current forecast will remain constant over the short- to mid-term.