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Yale/Chase adds to service organisation

Thursday, 12 Mar 2009 ( #401 ) - City of Industry, CA, United States
News Story
Roger Ketelsleger
Yale/Chase Materials Handling Inc has hired 19 technicians and others previously employed at Clarklift of California’s under-utilised facilities in Santa Fe Springs and Ontario, Calif.

"We have been growing through acquisitions, and we have built up a reputation," says Roger Ketelsleger, president and chief executive officer of City of Industry-based Yale/Chase.

"We have known Clarklift was in financial trouble," Ketelsleger notes. "We had some conversations and, without any conditions, we agreed to hire the techs and get the (Clarklift) customer list to support the techs and fold them into our company." The transition occurred during the week of 23 February and included offering employment to Clarklift President Fernando Corral for special projects and retaining other Clarklift individuals in parts service and aftermarket sales. For the moment, Corral remains focused on Clarklift issues.

"Service is a major contributor to profitability of any organisation," Ketelsleger says. "As you grow a service organisation, you help sustain profitability."

Yale/Chase assumes no Clarklift obligations for facilities, equipment or overheads.

In September, Clark Material Handling Co (CMHC) appointed Cal-Lift Inc as an authorised Clark dealer in the Los Angeles and Inland Empire markets, overlapping most of the sales area of Clarklift of California.

"(CMHC) has not spoken to Yale/Chase about acquiring the Clark line," says Scott Johnson, director of dealer services with Lexington, Kentucky-based Clark. "We are disappointed that Clarklift of California is no longer in business. We went out of our way to support Clarklift."

At Clarklift of California, "the economy took a huge chunk out of this company," Corral says. "Revenues dropped tremendously, and we did not have the cash reserves to continue."

Corral says he respects the Yale/Chase organization and connected with Ketelsleger once it became clear no one was interested in buying Clarklift.

In mid-February, Clarklift employed 55, including those now with Yale/Chase. "I made a recommendation to technicians that they consider the offer" from Yale/Chase, Corral notes. "They all accepted and are now all gainfully employed and working" in Yale/Chase operations.

Clarklift continues functioning with a skeleton staff at the Santa Fe Springs site but without generating revenue, Corral says. "My focus is to salvage as much for the skeleton staff here and for the owners." Corral is not an owner of Clarklift.

Yale/Chase is the authorised dealer of Yale forklifts and hand trucks for approximately 70,000 square miles (182,000 sqkm) of southern California plus the 450-mile (720k) state of Baja California in Mexico. Yale is a brand of Nacco Industries Inc’s materials handling group (NMHG). The Yale organization has designated Yale/Chase as a 2008 dealer of excellence, a first-time recognition for the firm.

In two January business developments, Yale/Chase moved one of its California branches into larger quarters and became a distributor of Speedshield systems.

The Fontana branch moved to a facility with 25,000 square feet (2,250 sqm) on 2.5 acres from a previous location occupying 12,000 square feet (1,080 sqm) on one acre. In addition to its City of Industry and Fontana sites, Yale/Chase has other branches in Escondido, Huntington Beach and Valencia, California and Honolulu, Hawaii.

Yale/Chase became the exclusive southern California distributor for the Speedshield modular vehicle control and monitor system from Automotion Control Systems Pty Ltd of Springvale, Victoria, Australia. "Managing fleets is the future," Ketelsleger says. "We added a couple of specialists for installations" of the Speedshield systems.

In March, Yale/Chase became the southern California representative for large stationary generators from Generac Power Systems Inc of Waukesha, Wisconsin.

In December, Yale/Chase installed 38 fuel-cell-powered forklifts for an unidentified customer in Dallas, Texas. "We are a dealer-manager for a large account that buys a lot of forklifts," he says.

Yale/Chase has assigned Bob Hayes as aftermarket specialist and conduit to customers on issues relating to regulations of the California Air Resources Board (ARB). Hayes joined the business in 2006 and continues his original assignment handling aftermarket matters in Yale/Chase representation of rail car mover manufacturer Trackmobile Inc of LaGrange, Georgia. Hayes consults with Yale/Chase customers regarding upcoming California ARB regulations for off-road large spark-ignition engines powering forklifts and other equipment.
Yale/Chase employs 246 persons, including the Clarklift additions, and had cumulative 2008 sales of about USD94.1 million, up from USD91.1 million in 2007.

In September 2003, Yale/Chase purchased Hawaiian Lift Truck Inc (HLTI), the authorized Yale dealer for the state of Hawaii. Yale/Chase operates HLTI as a branch. "When we purchased them in 2003, their sales were around USD2 million," Ketelsleger says. Now, "they are annualizing at USD6 million."

HLTI is based in Honolulu on Oahu island and oversees sub-dealer Hawaii Forklift Service in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, handling sales, rentals and repairs.
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