Solving Material-Handling Problems - A Closer Look
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SECTION: A Closer Look

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Solving Material-Handling Problems

Written By: Mary Sedor

Article Date: 01-02-2006
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

Manitou NA makes it possible for its dealers to provide solutions not available anywhere else.

Manitou North America, manufacturers of vertical-mast lift trucks, telescopic handlers and truck-mounted forklifts, has found its niche by bringing to market unique trucks within these segments. "We believe in a niche strategy," says Ed Ugolini, director of sales and marketing, "that allows the dealer to go out and solve material-handling problems."

Manitou NA was started as K-D Manufacturing in 1946 in Cleburn, Texas by M.M. Key Sr. The company designed and manufactured masts for forklifts and used modified agricultural tractors for rough-terrain fork lifts. After a fire in 1966, the company was relocated to Waco, Texas.

In 1981, Manitou F.F. purchased a controlling interest in K-D Manufacturing and established K-D Manitou. In 1986, M.M. Key Jr. sold his remaining interest in the company to Manitou. Then, in 2003, the company changed its name to Manitou North America.

Manitou NA manufactures several models of rough-terrain lift trucks in Waco and imports other machines from its parent company, Manitou B.F. in Ancenis, France.

In addition, Manitou NA designs, produces and markets a full line of industrial masts used on major brands of industrial lift trucks.

A full service department, including a spare parts department and warehouse, provides customer support.

Products With Market Impact

The company believes dealers looking for opportunities to add a rough-terrain lift truck line should consider Manitou NA products.

While the company has the "bread and butter" trucks that most manufacturers build, Manitou NA also carries unique trucks for which there is a true need in the marketplace.

"We don't bring everything that Manitou makes to market here," says Ugolini, "only those things we feel will have an impact."

Ugolini says no other manufacturers have the product offerings they have available, especially in the company's telescopic handler and truck mounted fork lift lines.

For example, last year Manitou NA introduced its smallest rough-terrain lift truck - the Twisco model SLT 415B. This ultra-compact telehandler is designed to deliver big performance in a small package. The telehandler's small size and a 13-foot lift height make it possible to use it in areas not accessible to larger machines. It also can be used as an alternative to a skid-steer loader.

In addition, Manitou NA. recently introduced the MLT 627, which has a 6,000-pound capacity, a lift height of 18 feet and a forward reach of 11 feet.

"Those are the types of things we can bring to the table," says Ugolini. "Once it's engineered, if we determine there is a need in the marketplace, we have a three-month turnaround time on the product."

In addition, he says, when Manitou designs a truck, the company takes into consideration where the truck will be used. The company is represented in more than 90 countries.

"The components in our machines must be reliable and well known," says Ugolini. "We have to support this product throughout the world."

Distributor Network Expansion

Manitou NA wants to expand its dealer network by adding AED member dealers. According to Ugolini, the company is looking specifically for AED dealers because of the high caliber of dealers that are involved with the association.

"We joined AED because we are interested in partnering with experience, qualified distributors to represent and sell our products," he says.

One of the many benefits of becoming a Manitou NA dealer, Ugolini says, is that a dealer won't have to compete for quotes on products against five other dealers with the same equipment. The dealer has the opportunity to become a problem-solver for his customers and sell the company's unique products.

In addition, he says, Manitou NA provides state-of-the-art product design, a comprehensive product offering and one stop shopping.

"We feel very strongly that we have lot to offer our dealers and end users," says Ugolini, "including a sales and marketing staff that's designed to support and assist the dealer in their selling efforts."

The company also has five regional managers assigned throughout the United States to assist dealers in sales and marketing efforts. Three specialists are in place to provide assistance to the regional managers in construction and agriculture.

The construction specialists know the applications, the customers and the competition. On a regular basis, they provide sales training and help dealers on customer calls.

"This is a system that works well for us," says Ugolini. "The primary role of the specialists is to help the dealer sell the product."

In addition, Manitou will travel 12 trade shows this year - including AED's Annual Meeting & CONDEX in San Diego - to work with its dealers.

Manitou dealers have access to a secure area on the company's website that is filled with tips, price pages and literature. This secure dealer site is growing, and Ugolini says the company is moving toward placing orders for equipment and parts on-line.

"We're in the business of providing our dealers with the ability to attract additional business and filling the gaps that make us a more viable vendor to them," says Ugolini. "We're selling solutions, not just iron."

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