In 1969, TVH got its start in Belgium when Paul Thermote and Paul Vanhalst began maintaining and selling machinery for agriculture and construction, as well as for forklift trucks.
In the near half century that followed, TVH has maintained its Belgian roots while also growing into a global company – doing business in Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Australia – all while building an inventory of over 8 million parts and a name well-known across industrial equipment industries.
It has been an ongoing growth pattern that one company leader says is driven by multiple factors: acquisitions of various sizes, organic growth, engaged employees, and a company vision that includes a willingness to expand.
“We never say 'no' to a good opportunity. If there are opportunities to enlarge our product offering, we would certainly look into that,” said Dirk von Holt, vice president of marketing and sales for TVH Parts Corp. in the U.S., when asked about whether the future years may hold new avenues of expansion or acquisitions.
The growth of TVH in North America largely followed the acquisition of Systems Material Handling Co. in 2003. “For the North America market that was a significant breakthrough,” said von Holt, in a phone interview with Material Handling Wholesaler. The acquisition of IMC Holdings Inc. in 2006 was also a major growth point, according to von Holt.
Yet although it offers much diversity in product and service offerings, TVH has a fairly specific customer profile. “We sell only through companies servicing the industries. Distributions, parts distributors, independent service companies,” said von Holt, who explained it is TVH's customers who work with end users.
In the Americas, von Holt said TVH has affiliates in Canada, Mexico and Brazil. He said company leaders are generally staying out of recent political discussions regarding changes to NAFTA and other American trade systems. “In general, we are not that much affected by” those proposed changes,” he said, “We do still source the majority of our parts locally.”
TVH has about 1,000 employees in the Americas and 5,400 worldwide. The company is still headquartered in Belgium and is family-owned, now in its second generation of leadership.
von Holt said company leaders work to utilize synergies in processes and sorting parts when possible, but also account for market differences in business operations. “The European market has been developing differently regarding equipment,” he said, citing one example. TVH therefore is structured so each region is responsible for its own area to account for such differences, including culture, according to von Holt.
In the U.S., TVH has a large number of distribution centers close to the customers. With more than 90% of the industries’ truck population within one-day ground service, TVH offers an elevated level of service. This kind of proximity is widely expected, and is a business practice that von Holt said predates the fast shipping now expected in the consumer markets. “It has been there for some time already. It's getting enforced now and is of higher importance,” von Holt said.
It is the type of service TVH's customers value. “Thanks to the local warehouses, we can get the orders really fast,” said Eric Rowlett, of Westminster Lift Trucks, in a testimonial on TVH's website. “Even if we order them overnight, the orders reach us the next day, which obviously speeds up our work pace,” he said.
In the U.S., TVH strives to be as involved as possible in the local communities it serves through a variety of service efforts.
And when it comes to attracting and retaining employees, von Holt said the company offers an in-house clinic with a nurse practitioner where employees and families can check in for no cost, a gym, wellness program and wellness adviser.
For customers, TVH offers education programs both online and in-house to assist with training.
TVH has been “making great strides forward” in all of these areas, and will continue to stress the importance of customer service going forward, von Holt said.
“I think our customers are realizing that, and that the growth which we have had is also the result of the focus on the customer,” he said.
Eileen Schmidt is a freelance writer and journalist based in the Greater Milwaukee area. She has written for print and online publications for the past 12 years. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit eileenmozinskischmidt.wordpress.com to contact Eileen.