Sydney marks the start of 2018
PHOTO: City of Sydney/Getty Images
It looks like global forklift sales for 2017 will remain in the six-digit range. While final figures for the year are not yet available, there were persistent reports of growth of more than 15% for much of the year. That means sales figures of around 1,325,835 may not be out of the question, after 1,152,900 units were sold in 2016.
Last year was punctuated by positive financial performance among the major players, with Jungheinrich reporting continued growth over the first nine months, primarily driven by high demand in its core market, Europe.
The KION Group also noted strong growth in the first three quarters, with orders rising 39.2% to EUR1.847 billion (USD2.15 billion) in the period July to September 2017.
Lifting solutions provider PALFINGER also continued to post strong growth in the first three quarters of 2017, thanks mostly to solid performance in Europe, Russia and China. Group revenues rose by 9.7%, setting a new record for the reporting period.
French equipment maker Haulotte Group ended the third quarter with consolidated sales of EUR106.1 million (USD125 million), 2% up from the same period last year and a rise of 8% over the first three quarters of the year.
While Terex experienced income declines over the year, the result had more to do with divestment, restructuring and cost-saving initiatives than any softening of the market.
Fears of a slump in the UK market due to Brexit were quickly overcome, with the British Industrial Truck Association reporting three successive quarters of growth, "painting a picture of a sector that can withstand short-term economic fluctuations". The Market Index showed that sales of trucks rose by 8.2% year-on-year, reaching 33,407 by the end of the third quarter of 2017, continuing the improvement on 2016 levels.
And as the market grew, the jostling for marketshare continued, but there was little change at the top, with Toyota Industries Corporation retaining its ranking as the world's largest materials handling supplier, with revenues of USD8.563 billion.
KION remained in second place, with sales of USD5.879 billion, while the 2016 acquisition of UniCarriers has pushed Mitsubishi Nichiyu Forklift into third place, bumping Jungheinrich into fourth spot, despite its strong performance in 2016.
Crown Equipment remained in fifth place, based on 2016 revenues which rose more than 10% over the year, while Hyster-Yale Materials Handling held its sixth place, propped up by sales from its Bolzoni acquisition.
Anhui Forklift is the highest-ranked Chinese manufacturer, coming in at number seven after sales of 86,625 units, an increase of 16%.
Doosan was a big mover, rising from 11th position to eighth place, while Hangcha Group, with sales of 82,350 units, rose from 12th to ninth.
Clark Material Handling retained its 10th spot in its 100th year.
While 2016 was the year of mega-acquisitions and mergers, 2017 saw many more businesses change ownership - albeit on a smaller scale.
Among the notable purchases was Toyota Industries Corporation's acquisition of Bastian Solutions, LLC, a leading systems integrator with regional US operations and presence in strategically significant international markets. The purchase heralded TICO's move into broader supply chain solutions, with the creation of Toyota Advanced Logistics Solutions, a new business division to manage North American activities in the area of logistics solutions.
Toyota's move into logistics took a further step with the acquisition of Vanderlande, a global leader in value-added logistics process automation at airports and in the parcel market. Vanderlande has 50 sites around the world and a staff of approximately 4,500 experienced in providing materials handling solutions to major customers in every industry.
While Toyota was entering the integrated solution market, KION accelerated its thrust with the integration of its purchases - Dematic and Egemin Automation. The restructure was touted as the creation of the world's largest automated guided vehicle (AGV) supplier while enhancing Dematic's system integration capability in Europe.
Another trend which intensified in 2017 was the purchase of Chinese companies by global premium product manufacturers. Just last month, Hyster-Yale entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 75% of the outstanding shares of, and a controlling interest in, Zhejiang Maximal Forklift Company Limited through an indirect wholly owned subsidiary.
Hyster-Yale bought into Zhejiang Maximal Forklift Company
Maximal, a privately held Chinese OEM for utility and standard forklifts and specialised materials handling equipment which was founded in 2006, produces equipment under the Maximal and SAMUK brands. Maximal also designs and produces specialised products in the port equipment and rough-terrain forklift segments.
Jungheinrich, which has been strengthening its position by expanding into the retail market, this month assumes operation of Grupo Agencia Alemana, its long-standing South American distribution partner. The move makes Jungheinrich the first provider of complete intralogistics solutions to be represented in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador by its own direct sales and service network. Jungheinrich previously set up direct sales branches in Brazil (2001) and Chile (2016), and the latest moves consolidate its position in South America.
Last year was an acquisitive one for the Manitou group, which took a majority stake in Australian dealer LiftRite, based in Perth, and also finalised the acquisition of Terex Equipment Private Limited (TEPL) in India.
The ramifications of the 2016 Terex/Konecranes deal continued last year, with Konecranes completing the divestment of its STAHL CraneSystems business to Columbus McKinnon Corporation. That sale was part of the European Commission's approval of Konecranes' acquisition of Terex Corporation's MHPS business, which was conditional on the divestment.
Rival Hiab completed its acquisition of the loader crane business of Argos Guindastes Indústria e Comércio Ltda. Argos is one of Brazil's leading loader crane manufacturers and the purchase was part of Hiab's ambition for the Brazilian market.
There was plenty of dealer activity in the United States, including Alta Equipment Company's purchase of YES Equipment & Services in Illinois, resulting in Alta becoming an authorised Yale dealer in the state.
Arnold Machinery in Minnisota has been acquired by Fairchild Equipment
Meanwhile, Fairchild Equipment acquired the assets and Hyster forklift dealership rights of Arnold Machinery locations in Minnesota. This was the company's fourth significant purchase since 2015. In April 2016, Fairchild acquired the assets of Lift Truck Specialists in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. A month later, it acquired the assets of American Warehouse Systems and DC Handling of Blaine, Minnesota.
Miner Material Handling continued its expansion, buying the Houston operations of
Sunbelt Industrial Trucks of Dallas, Texas. Miner had acquired Dallas-based CE-DFW Warehouse Solutions in April 2016. CE-DFW is an authorised Doosan, Linde, Donkey and Genie dealer in North Texas. The company was interested in expanding to Houston, so the acquisition of Sunbelt Industrial Trucks, the Doosan dealer in that market, was beneficial to both parties.
RMH Systems acquired Skarnes Inc., a materials handling company in the Minneapolis suburb of Plymouth. Skarnes has been a dominant materials handling house in the Twin Cities and Minnesota markets since 1923, and the acquisition strengthens the market presence of RMH Systems as a materials handling equipment distributor in the upper Midwest.
Funds managed by Harvest Partners, LP, a New York-based private equity firm, acquired the equity stake in Material Handling Services held by CI Capital Partners, another New York-based private equity firm. CI Capital acquired its equity stake in Material Handling Services (trading as Total Fleet Solutions) in 2012. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Used truck dealer Ranger Lift Trucks, headquartered in Baytown, Texas, bought out Universal Forklift Supply. Ranger president Todd Ford said: "Universal Forklift Supply will add the missing pieces for Ranger to become a full-service used equipment dealer."
There was also acquisition activity in Europe, where Palfinger Group acquired all the shares of its Danish dealer, Palfinger Danmark AS. The purchase agreement included the further employment of all staff members and the continuation of the whole sales and service network.
TVH, which has been very active in the acquisition stakes, continued to grow its operations with the acquisition of the German activities of the Lavendon Group from Loxam Group through the transfer of the entire share capital of Lavendon Holding (Deutschland) GmbH and Gardemann Arbeitsbühnen GmbH. TVH saw the purchase as a unique opportunity to combine the leading brands Mateco and Gardemann, and further consolidate its position in the German market.
Aerial work platform and telehandler rental specialist Riwal has acquired German rental company AFI GmbH. Like Riwal, AFI specialises in the hire of aerial work platforms, telehandlers and forklifts. AFI was founded in 2003 by Günther Aust and operates a fleet of 1,300 machines from nine depots across Germany. The company has 110 employees.
Meanwhile, OHM group, one of Ireland's largest vehicle dealers, sold off its forklift division as it looks to "streamline" its business. British company Briggs Equipment took over Irish Lift Trucks, a long-established dealer of materials handling equipment. OHM Group, through its subsidiary company Irish Lift Trucks, had been the exclusive distributor for Hyster materials handling equipment in Ireland since 1982 and the acquisition extends Briggs' Hyster network as the company is the Hyster-Yale Group's exclusive UK distributor for the Hyster and Yale ranges.
Consolidation also intensified in the rental market with a number of significant deals in 2017. Sumitomo Corporation became the sole owner of Sunstate Equipment Co, picking up the outstanding stock through its subsidiary, SMS International Corporation. Sunstate is the seventh-largest equipment rental company in the United States and the 24th largest in the world. With its 40 years of industry experience, Sunstate has grown from a single Arizona location to over 60 branches in nine states, employing nearly 1,600 staff.
Meanwhile, United Rentals acquired NES, one of the 10 largest general equipment rental companies in the United States. Based in Chicago, Illinois, NES has 73 branches and approximately 1,100 employees, with a concentration in the eastern half of the United States. United Rentals was attracted by NES's branch footprint which it hopes will increase its density in strategically important markets, including the East Coast, Gulf States and the Midwest.
European rental giant Monnoyeur Group acquired a key shareholding in Spanish logistics provider Alfaland. Monnoyeur, with an annual turnover of more than EUR1,600 million (USD1,823 million), is in the midst of an expansion strategy in which its maintenance equipment business has become one of the most important in Europe. Its rental fleet has reached 28,500 units and the company also has around 50,000 maintenance contracts. Alfaland says that the development is a further step in its 34-year history, in which the group has evolved "to provide both equipment and complete solutions to companies linked to the world of logistics".
Some of A-Plant's 1,200-unit JCB order
There was plenty of fleet expansion and rejuvenation in the rental sector, and JCB was among the beneficiaries. Major orders included one from A-Plant, the UK's leading equipment rental company, for more than 1,200 machines and a range of generators worth more than GBP55 million (USD72.23 million). Another leading UK national plant hire company has placed its biggest-ever order for JCB equipment, worth GBP25 million (USD33.5 million), as it geared up for growth. Haydock-based Plant Hire UK (PHUK) placed an order for 450 new JCB machines in the massive deal. The British manufacturer also supplied 50 JCB Access electric scissor lifts to Active Access - part of the ZL Group of companies - which is based in Bellshill, near Glasgow.
Cumbrian civil engineering and plant hire firm Ashcroft Construction placed its largest-ever equipment order, with a deal for JCB machines worth GBP1 million (USD1.29 million). The massive investment saw the company take delivery of 17 new machines, taking Ashcroft's JCB fleet to 29 machines.
2017 was a year of anniversaries, with CLARK Material Handling Company celebrating its 100-year milestone with a week of events at its North American headquarters.
TMHU's gold forklift
Toyota Material Handling USA marked the 50th anniversary of the first Toyota forklift sold in the US with a special event at its headquarters in Columbus, Indiana. The company sold its first US forklift to a grape farmer in Fresno, California in 1967. That forklift is still on display at the facility.
Jungheinrich marked the 50th anniversary of its plant in Norderstedt, Schleswig-Holstein. The company has been producing industrial trucks and storage technology for the global market in the district of Friedrichsgabe since 1967 - and continues to expand the factory.
US Toyota and Crown dealer Watts Equipment Co. marked its 50th anniversary, tracing its beginnings to 1948, when founder Virgil Watts left the Marines with a vision and a plan to start a business.
Dealer Wajax marked the 50th year of a business relationship with Hyster with a series of events across Canada as well as with the introduction of new warehouse products and the latest Class V internal combustion pneumatic forklifts.
In Europe, Dutch forklift wholesaler Lisman celebrated its 50th anniversary with festivities at its three sites in IJsselstein, near Utrecht. Lisman's history dates back to 1967, when Anton Lisman Sr. established Lisman Vorkheftrucks BV in Groenekan, near Utrecht.
Dutch forklift parts vendor Van Gent Forklift Parts also marked half a century. The company, founded in 1967 in Wijchen, Netherlands as Van Gent B.V., initially focused on selling forklift replacement parts as well as original parts of the brand Hyster. In 2001, it rebranded as OrangeParts, launching its own line of non-OEM forklift parts.
2017 was a big year for Cascade Corporation, which was founded in 1943, and has since grown into a global operation with manufacturing plants and offices around the world. Cascade's European headquarters, Cascade Italy, celebrated 50 years of operation; Cascade Canada marked its 50th year; as one of the longest-standing members of Cascade's global operations, Cascade Japan clocked up its half-century; Cascade Xiamen, located in southeast China, reached its 30th anniversary; and Cascade Hebei celebrated 20 years of operation.
Taiwan's Tailift marked its 30th anniversary in the forklift industry. The origin of the Tailift Group dates back to 1973 in the machining tools industry in Taiwan. The Tailift Group began designing and manufacturing forklifts in 1987 under the Tailift brand. In 2014, the Tailift Group's forklift division entered into a joint venture with Toyota Industries Corporation.
Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America Inc. (MCFA) marked 25 years of quality materials handling production and distribution, while AMS Bobcat, the authorised MCFA Bobcat dealer for Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire in the UK, celebrated its 25th anniversary. It placed its first order with Bobcat in 1993 for 35 skid-steer loaders and attachments.
Forklift safety veteran Al Rainsberger passed away in July after a recent diagnosis of cancer. Known for his 20 years organising the Washington State Governor's Forklift Rodeo Competition, Rainsberger's safety achievements included his role as director of health and safety at Foss Maritime, where he overhauled the country's largest coastal tug and barge company's safety program, including streamlining its data-reporting process, the continued implementation and enhancement of its safety programs, and the establishment of regional safety committees.
In January, Walter Sellick, founder of Sellick Equipment, passed away in Canada.
Sellick was an avid pilot and a member of several flying organisations, a member of Harrow Rotary, former mayor of Harrow, former member of the Harrow and Colchester South Fire Dept and a former chairman and board trustee of the Harrow and Colchester South School Board. He was also on the board of directors of the Equipment Manufacturers Institute (EMI), now the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), and helped pioneer the EMI rough-terrain forklift council.
Telehandler industry veteran Mark Sichi died at the age of 61. During his 15-year tenure at Xtreme Manufacturing, Sichi was an integral member of the sales team, handling many key accounts. He then moved into a role in telehandler product development, where he provided valuable market knowledge and technical insight into the design of new equipment for both Xtreme and Snorkel.
Richard George Draude, 93, passed away peacefully at Misericordia Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in York, Pennsylvania in March. In 1955, Draude and his partner, Virgil Blondy Gross, were appointed the Clark Equipment dealer covering 26 counties of central Pennsylvania. Together, they formed Forklifts, Inc. What began as a dealership of seven employees increased to 100, and USD13 million in sales, by the time Draude sold the business in 1984. The greatly expanded business continues today under the Equipment Depot banner.