A Veteran’s Story: Toyota Material Handling dealer delivers loaded container handler to U.S. Army
In recognition of Veteran’s Day, Toyota Material Handling is highlighting a special story involving one of its dealers – Toyota Material Handling Northern California – and a U.S. military base in Hawaii. Read the full story about a Vietnam veteran who is still finding new ways to support American troops.
Rich Andres knows from experience how important it is for our troops to have the most reliable equipment on the market. Andres, the founder and chairman of Toyota Material Handling Northern California, served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s.
Recently, Andres and Toyota Material Handling Northern California delivered a Loaded Container Handler to a U.S. military base in Oahu, Hawaii, to support contingency operations, local training and deployments for the Army.
“This truck will help our operations tremendously and ensure we can make all of our large movements much more efficiently, including fully-loaded shipping containers,” said Melvin Wright of U.S. Army Field Support Brigade LRC 402 Hawaii. “This truck will move all of those important containers, place them on the flatbed truck, and then they’ll be transported down to the port at Pearl Harbor. It’s going to make a big difference for us and save a significant amount of time.”
Andres’ story is one centered on family and driven by discipline and sacrifice. His father served in the U.S. Navy before him, and his two sons – Mark and Stephen – now run the successful material handling business he started more than 25 years ago.
That’s what made this deal so special. By providing a quality piece of equipment to support the soldiers at Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii, Andres says he still wants to do whatever he can to support American troops.
“It makes me proud to participate in something with the military,” Andres said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to represent Toyota with the U.S. government. If I was still in the service and I was operating something like this container handler, I would have a high level of confidence in it because of its quality.”
Getting the Loaded Container Handler to the Army base in Hawaii wasn’t easy. The product weighs over 175,000 pounds and features a lift capacity up to 90,000 pounds, so it had to be built, disassembled for shipment, and then reassembled once in Hawaii.
Several members of the Toyota Material Handling Northern California team traveled to East Chicago, Indiana, where Toyota Heavy Duty forklifts are built, to study, learn, and practice everything needed to know about properly taking the product apart and putting it back together again. Those same professionals traveled to Hawaii to not only reassemble the equipment upon arrival, but fully train the customer on how to use the massive unit.
It’s that level of commitment and attention to detail Andres learned during his time in the military and carried with him throughout his material handling career. Andres and his sons instill those same principles into every person that comes to work for them at Toyota Material Handling Northern California. In many ways, those principles connect the military way with the Toyota Way.
“There’s definitely an interesting parallel between the two,” Andres said. “They are both driven by processes that have been proven to be successful over a long period of time. In my career, the former military people I’ve hired have had those same values and have been the most successful in the company. The things they brought with them – the things they helped lead with – made the company successful.”
Andres joined the Marine Corps with his three best friends in 1967, initially serving as a motor pool mechanic after completing boot camp. But Andres thought he could do even more to serve his country. He tried multiple times to join the troops in Vietnam, and just four months after joining the Marine Corps, Andres succeeded in that effort.
After completing his infantry training, Andres was a member of a motor transport unit in Vietnam. His unit joined what is known as the ‘Siege of Khe Sanh’ in early 1968, a 77-day battle in Kasan, Vietnam, that claimed the life of Andres’ unit chief. Andres was thrust into a leadership role as the Motor Transport Chief and successfully led his soldiers until he left the Marine Corps in 1969.
Andres initially planned to take some time off after returning from war, but says he wanted to get to work. So Andres started sweeping floors and delivering parts for a local forklift company where he spent five years and worked his way up to a parts manager position.
Andres would end up working for two more forklift companies after that, the second beginning in 1985 for the then-called Perin Company, which was founded in 1921 and was the second-oldest Toyota dealer in the country at the time. In 1997, Andres partnered with Toyota Material Handling to buy Perin Company and renamed it Toyota Material Handling Northern California. The Andres family has successfully grown the business in the 26 years since with existing locations in Livermore, Fresno, West Sacramento and Salinas, California.
“The whole experience of being in the Marine Corps helped me to get where I am,” Andres said. “It taught me about the determination you need to succeed and showed me what it’s like when somebody always has your back. I wasn’t satisfied just working – I wanted to do something bigger.
“I like to lead by example. From being thrust into being the chief of my unit in Vietnam and all throughout my career, I’ve set my sights on specific things and had the determination required to follow through and reach them.”
One example Andres leads by is how he treats days of remembrance, like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. He doesn’t want the sacrifice of so many men and women to go unnoticed by anyone.
“Every year, I send out messages on these special days to let people know the importance of our troops – those that are still serving, those that didn’t make it back, and those that made it back but are struggling,” Andres said. “We are working to do anything we can to support those people. We are here – we are here to support you, and we always will be.”
About the Author:
Toyota Material Handling offers material handling products and solutions, including forklifts, reach trucks, order pickers, pallet jacks, container handlers, automated guided vehicles, and tow tractors, along with aerial work platforms, fleet management services, and advanced automation engineering and design. Toyota’s commitment to quality, reliability and customer satisfaction, the hallmark of the Toyota Production System, extends throughout more than 230 locations across North America. With access to an industry-leading lineup of material handling products, Toyota dealers are uniquely positioned to help solve wide-ranging challenges in warehousing and distribution. Built for every application, Toyota can provide the most complete set of solutions for material handling, automation, energy, advanced logistics, and warehouse optimization. For more information or to learn more, visit ToyotaForklift.com.