Quality Forklift Sales and Service keeps it simply successful
It seems like a simple enough mission statement.
“To provide our customer with quality service and sales at fair prices in a timely manner. We realize the importance of good running equipment to our customer’s bottom line and operation. Therefore, we only sell quality equipment and provide the best service possible.”
And after 34 years, its consistent execution has yielded success.
Quality Forklift Sales and Service Inc. was established in 1981 and continues to grow with the industry while developing ways to save its customers both time and money.
It became a TCM (now TCM by UniCarriers) equipment dealer, in 2000, an agreement that has proven to be a good match for the business and its customers. Service has been and remains a No. 1 priority, as evidenced by a dedication to providing quality at fair prices in a timely manner on all makes and models of lift trucks.
The company’s current majority owner and president, Todd Doege, actually began his stint as an employee when it was a much smaller operation before purchasing the operation in 1989. Doege now shares ownership with Mark Stack.
“He figured, if I’m going to be out there doing all the jobs, I want to make something more than just my hourly pay,” said Jennifer Sames, a service and administration manager.
“He’s a seasoned mechanic himself, and he sought to differentiate himself by providing top-notch customer service on repairing people’s forklifts. Regardless of the size of the company, whether they were one forklift or 20, he treated them the same way.”
The workforce was at 50 employees two years ago, but has since swelled to 61 – which includes 18 road-service technicians who travel to customer sites for daily forklift repair calls and scheduled preventative maintenance appointments. Two semi-trucks are also dispatched daily to deliver sold machines and move rentals from location to location as needed.
Nine in-house mechanics work on the company’s fleet of equipment that’s available for rental or sale, and on repair jobs that are brought in because they’re too large to do at a customer’s own site. Additionally, eight salesmen sell new and used equipment and service agreements and five more employees work in the parts department, sourcing parts for the customer base and technicians.
The remaining roster is filled out by administrative support and service staff.
“Business has been really good,” Sames said. “Whether it’s a down economy or not, people are still moving product and they still need the forklifts to move the product, and those units need repair every now and then, or replacement, or attention, and that’s what we do. Then, in the last two years, we’ve taken on a compact construction line, so we’re starting to broaden our horizons.”
Quality Forklift operated out of a single Shakopee, Minn. facility until three years ago, when it purchased another nearby building to house a sales office. The corporate headquarters and service functions are still located in the original building, and a small independent forklift repair company was purchased in August – providing the business with additional sales and technical presence in Farmington, about 30 miles to the southeast in Dakota County.
The company’s territorial area consists mainly of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, though it’s expanded to include what Sames called “greater Minnesota,” thanks to strategically located home-based technicians who can be dispatched to cover territories beyond the Twin Cities.
“Their service van is with them at their house, and we have technicians all the way from St. Cloud to Rochester from a coverage standpoint,” said Jim Holmstrom, the company’s chief financial officer. “The greatest population in Minnesota resides between St. Cloud and Rochester – with Minneapolis being 90 percent of it – so we have a pretty good coverage across that range.”
The customer base is quite diverse, Sames said, essentially running the gamut from wholesale produce suppliers to pipeline supply movers to lumberyards and including anything in a warehouse and any sort of distribution center. Quality Forklift is an authorized dealer for both UniCarriers and Princeton PiggyBack forklifts, as well as Terex compact construction equipment.
“Between those three, the customer groups can be slightly different,” Holmstrom said. “The base is pretty broad and it’s a lot more focused on the product – whether warehouse by warehouse or application by application – and there’s expertise in those areas. (We have a) fairly large service department compared to a lot of the other forklift companies, which may have more equipment sales than us. That really is our secret sauce. That’s where we lead.
“The equipment itself is very competitive. We feel like we can beat most at the service itself. Taking care of the customer after the sale is really where we shine.”
Online avenues like MachineryTrader.com are key in the company’s increasing push toward getting the word out about its services, which has begun generating more traffic alongside the traditional building of face-to-face sales relationships with customers. The sales approach will always remain vital, Holmstrom said, because rapport must be created regardless of how initial contact was made.
And going forward, simplicity will always be a go-to.
“Keeping it simple is sometimes the easiest thing,” he said. “Looking at appropriate geographies to expand our services is an opportunity for us, as is finding the appropriate manufacturers to work with that fit within our core competencies of what our service providers and technicians can do. When we add a manufacturer, it has to make sense with what service we can provide. When we move to a geography, it has to make sense with whether we can provide good technicians in that area.
“The simple thought is that we can expand our business just by moving some geography, going to some good markets and doing some business there.”
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Quality Forklift Sales & Service
WHAT: Provider of repair, service, rentals and sales on all makes and models of lift trucks and other material handling equipment, specializing in hard to find equipment and parts.
WHERE: Corporate headquarters in Shakopee, Minn.