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Tough, but still standing
Tuesday, 29 Dec 2009 ( #443 ) - Australia
Local News Story
Australian forklift companies raised money for the Victorian bushfire
Australia and the Pacific region this year has not only had to suffer the effects of the global financial recession, but also the impact of two devastating natural disasters.

In February, Victoria experienced its worst bushfire, with 173 deaths. Many individuals and businesses made generous donations of aid, including Red Australia.

Managing director Mick Narikiyo issued a challenge in early February for Australian forklift companies to raise money for the Victorian bushfire appeal. Red donated AUD10,000 and, in addition, matched employee donations dollar-for-dollar.

Recession – it has to be mentioned

Despite the poor start to the year and dire warnings regarding a global recession, Australian businesses managed well in contrast to those in many other countries.

In March, the Australian Industry Group/PricewaterhouseCoopers Australian Performance of Manufacturing Index (Australian PMI) revealed Australian manufacturing activity had fallen for the ninth successive month. In October, employment had fallen 1.7% after two months of growth, according to the ANZ Jobs Advertisement series.  

Most Australian businesses, including those in the materials handling sector, seem to have retained marketshare and financial resilience and weathered the lows.

Some didn’t make it

Queensland transport business GR George also went into liquidation in April.
South Australian company Forklifts Australia went into liquidation in April, after going into voluntary administration a month earlier. Queensland transport business GR George also went into liquidation in April, as did Victorian manufacturing company Lyco Innovations.

OM Carelli Elevatori withdrew from dealer negotiations with an Australian company, citing the current economic downturn as its reason.

Matex, the Australian materials handling exhibition, was cancelled for 2009 - also due to "the current economic climate". Event manager Paul Mathers explained that many of the larger logistics and supply chain companies were doing it tough and did not have the funding to participate.

Bigger and better

A number of Australian companies decided that 2009 was the year to move to bigger and better homes. NTP Forklifts in Brisbane kick-started the exodus in February, moving to a new purpose-built facility in Darra. The new building is 8,000 sqm and includes a showroom as well as a 2,000 sqm workshop.

JLG Industries moved to premises in Kewdale, Perth, four times bigger than its previous facility. The new space has accommodation for servicing, sales and training. It is the fourth new JLG facility to open in Australia in the last three years.

In May, Linde Materials Handling moved its Queensland operation into a new AUD6 million facility.

Logistics was the busiest sector, with large projects and contracts being undertaken or planned throughout the year. DB Schenker Australia moved to a new 11,000 sqm facility located at Melbourne’s airport, while DHL plans to invest in a NZD14 million office and warehouse facility at Auckland airport in the near future.

DHL's state-of-the-art facility in Melbourne
Meanwhile, DHL has already invested AUD35 million in a state-of-the-art facility in Melbourne. The facility, which was opened in November, covers almost 50,000 sqm and is equipped with advanced cold chain handling technology. In November, US-based player Werner Global Logistics opened up its first office in Australia.

But it wasn’t just bigger and better homes; bigger and better contracts were also signed. Logistics giant Toll Group secured an AUD180 million contract from Chevron Australia in July. The contract involves managing the Barrow Island Supply Base and Logistics Services for the Gorgon Project. In September, Chevron Australia extended the contact to include transport of materials and equipment on a global basis for the project, awarding DB Schenker Australia a contract worth AUD590 million.

Port facilities were also buoyant, with both Sydney and Auckland ports reporting increased TEUs. Auckland container volumes rose to 208,812 TEUs in the July-September quarter, up 7% from the previous quarter and hit an all-time high for  December, with 59,585 containers being put through, compared to 52,599 for December 2008.

In December, Sydney Ports Corporation announced a profit of AUD84.2 million for the 2008/09 financial year.

In July, Brisbane opened the world’s only fully automated container terminal.
In July, Brisbane opened the world’s only fully automated container terminal, after the completion of Berth 10’s Autostrad terminal at a cost of AUD125 million.

In the same month, marine terminal operator DP World signed a new multi-million dollar lease until 2024 for its operation at Port Botany, ensuring work for its 600 on-site employees.

Port of Melbourne proudly announced the completion of their Channel Deepening Project, ahead of schedule and AUD200 million under budget. The urgency of the project was justified when the September figures showed that nearly 54% of vessels were unable to load to full capacity.

Sales and partnerships

Although significantly slower in this area than in years past, 2009 did see some signficant changes in business ownership. In March, local distributor of Komatsu forklifts, Red Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sumitomo Corporation, was bought through Komatsu Australia Holdings.

In July, Australian company Adapt-A-Lift Forklift Rentals and Sales (AAL) confirmed that it had acquired NACCO Materials Handling Group’s Hyster retail operations and National Fleet Network’s (NFN) rental fleet in Australia.

This then led to much speculation as to what NACCO might do with its Yale dealerships in Australia. In early December, some of the questions were answered when Sydney-based dealer Hystandard Handling Equipment announced that it had signed a deal with NMHG to acquire its Yale operation in Sydney. Just last week, Adaptalift Hyster acquired the distribution rights to the Hyster brand in New South Wales, positioning the company with exclusive national distribution rights of all Hyster products within Australia.

Meanwhile, Hunter Lift Trucks, an independent Hyster dealer servicing the Hunter Valley, New England and Central Coast areas announced that after 24 years, it would no longer carry Hyster and would instead deal in Yale forklifts.

October was an expensive month for Toll Group which announced it had purchased Japan’s largest logistics company, Footwork Express for AUD95 million and New Zealand’s Express Logistics Group (ELG) for AUD50 milllion.

In December, in a reverse of current Queensland government policy, private company Pacific National sold its rail business in Tasmania to the Tasmanian Government.

Changes at the top

The year saw changes in a number of materials handling industry bodies. The South Australian Freight Council (SAFC) saw John McArdle replace chairman Vincent Tremaine, who stepped down after almost seven years in the role.

In August, Michael Kilgariff was appointed chief executive of the Australian Logistics Council, replacing Hal Morris, and in September, David Doherty OAM stepped down from the position of chairman of the Supply Chain and Logistics Association of Australia (SCLAA).

In November, Tom Gorman took over the position of CEO at Brambles from Mike Ihlein, who retired after six years of service.


In February, Marnie Ireland won the annual Women in Freight, Logistics and Marine Management scholarship.

The finals of the National forklift competition were won by Michael Eden in the men’s section and Anita Maliu in the women’s section.

In July, Manhattan Associates were awarded the "Warehouse Management Systems Provider of the Year in the Asia Pacific" for 2009 in the Frost and Sullivan Asia Pacific Transport and Logistics Awards.

In November, the Australian Supply Chain and Logistics Awards recognised individuals and companies. The winners included Bill Potter of NQX College (Industry Excellence), Jodie Collins of Collins Food Group (Future Leader) and Queensland Health (Supply Chain Management).

The best thing that happened in 2009

On Thursday 6th March this year, News sent its 400th newsletter. The first newsletter was emailed on July, 7th 2000 to 50 subscribers, carrying just three stories – one of them about the launch of the newsletter. We now reach a global audience of more than 150,000 industry professionals. and the decade have come a long way, and we’ve seen many changes and are still standing!
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