Steve Shaughnessy, president of Skyjack.

Steve Shaughnessy, president of Skyjack.

With around 25 years experience in access rentals Steve Shaughnessy had just completed his first week as president of Canadian manufacturer, Skyjack when he spoke to Maria Hadlow.

Having been a customer of Skyjack for around 17 years Mr Shaughnessy, told Access International, "I liked the company culture, the products and the quality. Having bought the machines over the years they more than live up to their marketing tag of 'equipment with the lowest total life cost of any in the industry'."

Like every other mainstream manufacturer with the bulk of its business in North America and Europe, Skyjack has suffered from a significant sales decline over the last 18 months or so.

"The company did have to downsize its manufacturing capacity," said Mr Shaughnessy, "And now I have two major challenges - The first is to get business volumes back - 2008 levels are unrealistic at this point but we can grow: the second is to fill the gaps in the product line."

Mr Shaughnessy revealed that Skyjack will be launching 12ft and 16ft vertical mast aerial platforms in the first half of the year and hopes to show the new machines at the ARA Rental Show in Florida at the beginning of February. The company also plans to add machines at the upper and lower end of its boom range.

Mr Shaughnessy also said that consideration was being given to selling the company's range of telehandlers in Europe - currently the Zoomboom range and ex-Volvo range (now branded Skyjack) are sold exclusively in North America.

This year Skyjack aims to spread its global presence: there are plans to put additional resources into the promising Australasian market through a sales office and a sales, service and support operation will be opened in China by the end of the first quarter and another in Latin America by the end of the second quarter.

Mr Shaughnessy acknowledges that there is a large element of cost attached to transporting equipment to these new markets both logistically and bureaucratically.

"The logical development is to manufacture in these markets as they grow large enough to support such an investment," he said.

There is currently no business plan to this end but, parent company Linamar does manufacture in both China and Mexico.

Mr Shaughnessy said that Skyjack's position within the Linamar Group was very secure, "A good and logical fit." When Skyjack became part of the group eight years ago Mr Shaughnessy said that there were some detractors, however, "Until recently Skyjack has been one of the stronger performers in the group."

Mr Shaughnessy anticipates that Skyjack's contribution in the future will indorse the decision.

In 2010 Mr Shaughnessy expects an overall growth of 20% to 30% in production and sales volumes with the pace picking up further in 2011.

"All the big rental companies have downsized," he says, "at some point in the near future their fleets won't be adequate, plus everything will be 2years older than it was. Manufacturers may have to go from 20mph to 60mph overnight.

"We are blessed with excellent manufacturing facilities and Linamar's experience in lean manufacturing will prove to be significantly advantageous to Skyjack when the upturn comes."

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