Last year was a good time for a new kid on the block in the material handling industry, a Michigan company decided. Intella Liftparts just marked its first anniversary.
"2007 was a great year to enter the parts business," said Marcel VandenTop, general manager. "We found that the consolidation in the industry gave everyone a reason to take a look at what else is out there in the market." A number of customers buy from us simply because they are concerned at where the industry is headed. It's sort of like when Wal-Mart comes into your town and the other local stores end up closing. Most people would say they probably want both: they want the local Wal-Mart and they want their other stores to stick around. We're OK with being the 'other' guy."
Intella is a subsidiary of VanGent Forklift Parts, based in The Netherlands, which has been in business in Europe since the late 1960s. "Being a subsidiary helps us tremendously because they have a large parts program already," VandenTop said. "VanGent buys parts all around the world and their sourcing has allowed us to enter the market in the USA at competitive pricing. We also have excellent logistics worked out with UPS such that if we are back ordered, we can receive replenishment stock in only two days from Europe."
Many dealers find it appealing that Intella does not sell to end users, he said. "Other parts suppliers sell direct to end users, which is something we'll never do. I used to work at a dealership for 10 years, so I know the fastest way of alienating my customers is to sell direct to their customers," VandenTop said.
They continue to introduce new products, including adding parts for electric lift trucks. A premium ignition product line has gone over well, he said. And they are working on an expansion of the premium starter and alternator line.
Beginning just as the economy turned uncertain was no deterrent to VandenTop. "I've always believed you have to create your own opportunities regardless of the economy and that's what we've done. In some cases, a bit of slow down has worked in our favor because prospective customers have a bit more time to explore new suppliers such as Intella. Most we've spoken with have indicated that their parts and service business has stayed firm or flat. And in some markets, you can find customers still growing. So I would say the economy is a mixed picture."