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Company profile: R&J Midwest Equipment Inc

Thursday, 4 Dec 2008 ( #389 ) - Elk Grove, IL, United States
Industry Profile
R&J Midwest Equipment Inc partners Brian Ritchey and Stuart Jacover
Amidst economic uncertainty, two senior-level forklift industry veterans left secure positions to establish R&J Midwest Equipment Inc in Elk Grove Village.

"We have spent our whole career working with large end-users incorporating best practices on fleet utilisation and maintenance, and now we have the unique opportunity to build a customer-centric business providing this expertise to our local customers in the Chicagoland area with the full backing of Hyundai," says president Stuart Jacover.

Both Jacover and his business partner, chief executive officer Brian Ritchey, have 20 years of experience in the material handling industry including involvement with Nacco Materials Handling Group’s Hyster brand. Ritchey was chief financial officer of Hyster distributor United Lift Truck LP in Bellwood, Illinois, and Jacover was vice president of central region sales for Greenville, North Carolina-based Hyster and, in earlier positions, a director for an Aurora, Illinois forklift dealership and vice president of sales for Hoist Liftruck Manufacturing Inc in Bedford Park, Illinois.

In October, Hyundai authorised R&J as its exclusive forklift distributor for 10 counties in north-eastern Illinois and two in north-western Indiana.

In the forklift industry, "product alone is not enough," Jacover observes. "Today, our customers are looking to outsource their forklift operations, and R&J has been designed to capitalise on this trend."

With the backing of Ulsan, South Korea-based Hyundai Heavy Industries Co Ltd, R&J has invested about USD6 million for an inventory of about 200 forklifts and a quantity of replacement parts. Hyundai does not own any portion of R&J.

The North American headquarters for the Hyundai Forklift USA unit in Elk Grove Village is less than one half of a mile (0.8 km) away from R&J’s leased facility of 60,000 square foot (5,400 sqm).

R&J employs 12 including factory-trained certified technical talent and plans to add six or seven service techs during 2009. The firm instituted what it calls the "R&J Silver Guarantee" as a way to satisfy customer needs. Among the commitments: a five-year brake guarantee.

"If our customer is not 100% satisfied, we will work to correct the issue up to and including taking a customer’s forklift back if need be," Jacover says. "Many of my peers have said I was crazy to offer this level of service in Chicago, but I am only putting out there what I would expect from one of my vendors."

In addition to Hyundai equipment, R&J distributes forklifts from Hoist Liftruck, Terex Corp’s Schaeff brand and Narrow Aisle Ltd’s Flexi brand and pallet trucks from E-P Equipment Co Ltd.

"Chicago is an excellent market to promote Hoist’s full line of heavy-duty large-capacity forklifts into the numerous steel, inter-modal, paper, automotive and other manufacturing customer bases," Jacover reports. "ECT’s CNG diesel conversion kit is also receiving a tremendous amount of interest from local transportation companies and municipalities because it currently is the only commercially available retrofit product for diesel to CNG on the market today."

R&J is an authorised outlet, and works with the master distributor, for Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based ECT, a partnership between research and development firm Engine Control Technology LLC and the international marketing subsidiary of Witco Systems Inc.

"ECT (technology) allows end users to convert their existing diesel engine trucks to a clean-burning hybrid product that reduces their fuel expense over 60% while lowering toxic carbon emissions by 65% compared to standard diesel trucks," Jacover says. "ECT’s benefits can be achieved with a ROI of typically 12 to 18 months."

Prior to the R&J appointment, Hyundai distributed forklifts in the Chicagoland area through TEC Material Handling Corp of Addison, Illinois and Metro Lift Truck Service Inc of Chicago.
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