“A lot of new opportunities”

Manutention Québec is bursting at the seams. The forklift truck dealer in the Canadian province of Quebec has so many red Linde trucks of all sizes at its depot that you can hardly move through the narrow walkways. Here and there you do still catch sight of the colours of competitors’ products. But, according to co-owner Jean-Louis Lapointe, that will soon change when the KION Group introduces new trucks onto the North American market. For now, there are still gaps in the product range offered by KION North America. But only for now.

“We want to become an exclusive KION dealer,” says Lapointe. Together with his business partner Frédéric Chatel, Lapointe has been a distributor of KION trucks in the predominantly French-speaking region for more than ten years now. “We are very enthusiastic about the new products that are being launched in North America. We keep our customers up to date with what’s happening and we are always looking for potential new customers – all in close collaboration with KION,” says the Canadian.

"We are very enthusiastic about the new products that are being launched in North America."

Frédéric Chatel

Co-owner of Manutention Québec

His technical manager, Robert Job, knows what the customers at Manutention want. “At the moment, they are demanding electric or IC counterbalance trucks with a load capacity of 2.3 to 2.7 tonnes. The important thing about these is that they are compact and can be used in narrow warehouse aisles,” he says. Automation solutions are also high on the wish list of many customers.

“Our product portfolio is changing rapidly,” says Ben Lee, director of key accounts at KION North America. “For us, this opens up a lot of new opportunities. Until now, we have found that the gaps in our product range have made it difficult for us to meet the needs of our customers. It is now all about our new products and staying in touch with those customers.” The broader product range will also be a giant step forward for the dealer network and, he continues, will make it possible for dealers to offer only KION products in future.

‘Dead green’ bananas

The fruit and vegetable importer Courchesne Larose is a long-standing customer of Lapointe and Chatel. Based in Montreal, the company has been owned by the Routhier family since 1918 and is now being run by the fourth generation. The cold store at head office contains stacked pallets of fruit and vegetables from all over the world: clementines from Morocco, oranges and lettuces from California, peaches and plums from Chile, and grapes from South Africa.

"Our product portfolio is changing rapidly"

Ben Lee

Director Key Accounts at KION North America

The company’s particular speciality, however, is bananas. Some of them are still green – or ‘dead green’ as manager Richard Sévigny jokes – when they arrive at the site, before being put into storage on narrow container racks several metres high. Here the tropical fruit is left to ripen before being delivered right along Canada’s east coast – as far as the Magdalen Islands nearly 1,500 kilometres away.

The individual banana racks are sealed to ensure that a temperature of 12 to 15 degrees Celsius is maintained for ripening. Courchesne Larose reports that it dispatches 20,000 crates of bananas per week – or around a million a year.

Dealer set to expand

“We have ceiling heights of up to ten metres,” says manager Richard Sévigny, “so very high.” For that reason, he wants to start using the double deep reach trucks from KION North America as soon as possible. Sévigny likes to work with Linde trucks because of the difficult conditions in his warehouse. The quality of equipment is critical in the cold store at Courchesne Larose, where the temperature in some areas is set at one degree Celsius because of the highly perishable stock. For Sévigny, Linde products are exceptionally reliable to work with.

“We estimate that the products currently missing from the portfolio account for around 45 per cent of our potential market,” says Manutention dealer Jean-Louis Lapointe. “But as soon as the KION 2020 Strategy takes full effect, we will be able to satisfy 100 per cent of the demand.” To ensure that they are ready for the new products from KION, the Manutention dealers want to expand. They are relocating their warehouse for forklift trucks to a larger building, recruiting more employees and bringing in more dealers to join their sales team.

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