Lifting the game
Forklifts are essential equipment in many industries for the efficient and safe handling of heavy items. Family owned Alllift Forklifts and Access Equipment has established itself as a leading operator in the business of providing lifting equipment and uses its own fleet of distinctive Isuzu trucks to transport units between locations.
The business of providing forklifts to Australian industries has traditionally been vertically integrated with manufacturers also closely involved in the sales and service functions.
This situation is fine provided customers are comfortable being brand specific.
The concept of offering a range of lifting equipment drawn from across the spectrum of original equipment manufacturers (OEM) brands has provided independent organisations Alllift Forklifts with the opportunity to offer their clients the equipment most applicable to their needs regardless of the manufacturer.
It’s not enough to provide the equipment for sale or hire as this is a very service orientated industry and it has been in this area where Alllift has built its strong reputation.
Bruce Kretchmer established the company in 1998 and was joined by his son Dean in 2010.
The extensive fleet of late model forklifts has been developed over time to include rough terrain all-wheel drive units suitable for use at building sites as well as access equipment such as boom lifts and scissor lift work platforms.
Other hire equipment includes compressors, generators, lighting towers and site sheds, all of which require an efficient transport solution to get them to and from the customers’ locations.
Alllift has recently been appointed as the Australian importer and distributor of Italian manufactured Magni telescopic handlers which will provide an entirely new aspect to the operation.
Service can vary from delivering equipment on time to performing onsite maintenance and repairs. The delivery is handled by Alllift’s own fleet of three Isuzu tilt trays.
The decision was made early to obtain and operate their own trucks rather than taking on the services of sub-contractors and the preference for having their own trucks extends beyond the obvious cost saving issues.
The distinctive Isuzu’s and their drivers are essentially the ‘face’ of the Alllift business and management is very mindful that the truck’s presence on the road and at their clients’ premises are an important factor in their overall marketing.
“It puts us in the driver’s seat,” says Alllift’s NSW State Manager Mark Gillespie who has been with the company since 2011. “We can track our own kilometres, hours and truck servicing. It’s not just a cost issue, it’s a vital way of reducing the risk of our provision of service to our clients. Along with our sales reps, our truck drivers are the face of Alllift and having a nice looking truck and the guy unloading the equipment who appears to really care about what they are doing is very important to us.”
It was a deliberate choice to break away from the standard kitchen appliance white cab paint when opting for the distinctive black and orange livery that adorns the Isuzus and it has delivered additional benefits.
“When we started with our own trucks they were made to look good in the black and orange and clients would often ask if we could provide other equipment such as scissor lifts,” says Mark. “The Sydney operation now has around 700 pieces of access equipment such as elevated work platforms and much of that growth came from the response to the trucks.”
The pride in the appearance of the company trucks and vans is evident in their presentation and gets noticed by clients and the public as well, although at least one motorist has suggested that bland is better.
“We had a guy call up and complain that the chrome on the toolboxes was too shiny and was a hazard to other drivers,” says Mark. “He was serious.”
Alllift sells both new and refurbished equipment and has adapted to changes in the warehousing industry which has evolved over the past couple of decades with operators changing from forklift owners to forklift hirers.
Accepting medium and long term leasing or hiring contracts from Alllift takes away most of the negative issues associated with owning such equipment and transfers much of the responsibility to Alllift which has the extensive industry expertise to manage customers’ requirements whether for a single unit or multiple forklifts.
“When you hire something its 100 per cent tax deductible and you know exactly what you are paying,” says Mark. “The forklift comes with service and all maintenance. If a machine breaks down or blows up, guess what? We repair it or swap it out at no cost. It lets them focus on their own business and they don’t have to worry about money for items like service or breakdowns or tyres.”
From the depot located close to Sydney’s geographic centre in Rydalmere, six technicians use a fleet of Renault vans to perform the onsite day to day servicing, breakdowns and maintenance of the 1,000-plus pieces of equipment that Alllift has placed with clients.
“At the end of the day it’s all about customer service and we feel very strongly about it,” says Mark.
Each unit is serviced at least every three months to maintain safety and to prevent breakdowns. The service schedule is arranged to suit the client.
The service vans are operated by experts who are mostly allocated to look after a set group of clients’ machines to maintain consistency by being familiar with each client’s specific needs. After hours and weekend servicing and repairs are also part of the Alllift’s offer.
The service fleet is being progressively updated to Renault Trafic vans as the incumbent Hyundai iLoad’s approach their 300,000 kilometre mark.
A significant proportion of the business involves supplying lifting equipment for warehousing operations, often with 12 to 14 pieces at each warehouse. The majority of the equipment available for hire is less than three years old.
Freight companies are also big users of forklift equipment and a number of Sydney’s largest transport and courier operations utilise the services of Alllift.
Interstate expansion has added three staff at the Wacol branch in Brisbane and eight at Melbourne in the suburb of Dandenong. There are 36 people based in Sydney.
The decision to purchase Isuzu tilt tray trucks was principally made by Dean Kretchmer who took into account input from the company’s own drivers regarding factors such as ease of entry and egress of the cabs and tight turning circles.
Smaller equipment is handled with a 12 tonne GVM Isuzu FSD and a 14 tonne Isuzu FXL.
As larger machines were added to the Alllift line-up there became a need for a bigger truck to carry them. Consequently the pride of the fleet is now a twin-steer Isuzu FYJ.
It has a 30,000kg GVM and can handle Alllift’s largest pieces of equipment as well as multiple smaller units which adds to the eight wheeler’s efficiency.
“Isuzu have been great,” says Mark. “With the delivery of each truck they have spent a few hours with us to go over the finer points of its operation and how to get the best from it.”
The trucks are working all day so reliability is a key factor.
The local Isuzu dealership is responsive in arranging servicing sometimes at short notice which is appreciated by the Alllift team.
“The biggest challenge we have from a transport perspective is meeting deadlines and getting machines to customers on time,” says Mark. “We’ll make up to ten deliveries at the one time, so payload is also important.”
As a consequence of those quick deliveries the turnaround of returned machines is also an important factor.
Alllift’s own workshop is geared to have units returning from hire serviced, refurbished and ready for loading back onto an Isuzu to go to the next client.
In the short term rental business, the policy is to get details and a quote to a potential customer with a genuine sense of urgency, and once the quote is accepted to deliver the ready-to-go piece or pieces of equipment as soon as practicable for all parties.
“For example, call us at 2.00pm today and we’ll have it there at the latest mid-morning tomorrow,” says Mark.
Alllift’s comprehensive menu-based website provides an up to date source of information to the industries it serves.
Alllift also provides training and licencing for the equipment it provides. A recent addition is the provision of a forklift and driver combination designed for customers who only have a very occasional need for such a service or for regular clients who have a short term requirement for forklift operations in excess of their normal capacity.
Alllift Forklifts and Access Equipment has achieved the critical business size where it is big enough to compete with the OEM-owned operations and provide an exceptional level of service, yet compact enough to really know its clients individually.
The investment in plant, equipment, trucks and people gives it the capacity to meet at once demand highs and lows without sacrificing the strong ethic of exceptional service delivery and ensures that the best years are still ahead.