Interview: Sinoboom North America
By Lindsey Anderson01 December 2020
Making a switch from a Fortune 500 company to a start-up venture might seem like a risky move to some, but for Kolin Kirschenmann, the newly appointed CEO of Sinoboom North America, it made perfect sense.
“The timing of it all worked out great,” Kirschenmann says about joining Sinoboom. “I was able to fulfill 30 years and retire from Cat, and then I began looking for a smaller company where I felt my impact could be more immediate and carry a broader breadth of responsibilities.”
Indeed, Kirschenmann’s rich history at Cat afforded him a range of opportunities, which started in 1990 when he joined the company as a design engineer. From there, Kirschenmann held a number of executive positions at the company, from marketing manager and product manager to eventually being appointed president of Cat’s forest products division in 2018.
“I had the opportunity to live and work overseas and conduct business in many foreign markets, while also traveling to those customers,” he says. “That really was a key to my professional development and experience, and I really started to hone my leadership style and strengths into scaling businesses, or being a change agent for businesses that needed a change.”
Sinoboom had found a perfect leader.
Over the last year, Sinoboom Intelligent Equipment, based in Changsha, China, has made major investments in key access markets around the world. Just this past July, the company opened North American and European subsidiaries, located in Texas and Rotterdam, respectively, and its rapidly increasing global footprint now sees it selling MEWP products in more than 50 countries. Sinoboom started production more than 12 years ago and was the first Chinese company to design and build its own boom lifts.
Sinoboom’s Texas facility will be used to house scissors, boom lifts and other MEWPs from the company’s extensive range of products.
“We have chosen to locate in Houston, Texas because of its unrivalled transportation links and close connections to major commercial activities,” Kirschenmann says. “We are now finalizing a full team to support our customers across the U.S. and Canada and look forward to success.”
The company’s main focus for the North American market currently is slab scissors, which Kirschenmann says have been fully engineered to meet, or exceed in some instances, all the required North American specifications. Following scissors will be booms, which Sinoboom is in the process of perfecting for customers here.
“We’ve spent a lot of time studying the market, talking to customers, talking to rental houses, and we know it’s very important that we hit customer experience right the first time,” Kirschenmann says. “Our strategy is obviously to provide highly engineered products, but also world-class product support and aftersales support.”
And that’s where Kirschenmann’s experience shines, and how Sinoboom’s flexibility will allow him and his team to not only respond quickly to market and customer demands but execute strategies to best suit the industry.
Susan Xu, general manager at Sinoboom Intelligent Equipment, says Kirschenmann “brings terrific experience in leading initiatives and driving commercial success in the construction equipment sector. I truly believe he will help to drive our expansion strategy forward.
“Attracting a different echelon of international personnel to work at Sinoboom, not only rapidly improves our headquarters’ business ability, but also establishes localized business functions to meet our customers’ needs. North America is the world’s largest access industry market, and we are dedicated to becoming one of the major players and provide reliable products to customers.”
Sinoboom customers and distributors will have access to world-class technical training, parts availability and service support. The company’s Texas warehouse is fully stocked and all parts orders will be fulfilled from there via a well-known online parts administrator.
“It’s the old adage that’s overused, but, sales sells the first machine and service sells the rest,” Kirschenmann says. “I have studied and researched many of the companies entering the North American market – what they have done right, what’s gone wrong… and most foreign companies attempt to rely on overseas management and they don’t have the local infrastructure or knowledge to succeed.”
To address these concerns, Kirschenmann stresses that when a customer buys Sinoboom equipment, they’re buying a product supported by a U.S. team that has over 100 years combined experience in the market – and that doesn’t include Kirschenmann’s 30 years.
Using that knowledge and expertise, Sinoboom has designed its North American customer experience to ensure buyers feel like they’re purchasing any other U.S. product. This, Kirschenmann says, is a stark contrast from what other companies have attempted to do when breaking into the MEWP market here.
“[Sinoboom] offered me full autonomy to look, feel, act and support customers just as any other U.S. company would,” he says. “And if I’m successful, which I’m sure we will be with our customer’s experience, it should feel like any other U.S. company.”
When Kirschenmann was in the process of interviewing with Sinoboom, the global pandemic was at a peak across the world.
“My daughter is an ICU nurse,” he says. “She was dealing with Covid-19 every day, all day. In fact, she still is.
“In the early days of the virus, she told me they were short on PPE, and Sinoboom actually shipped me masks as a goodwill gesture. It was pretty impressive. It spoke to me the integrity of the company and their care of the global pandemic. It was a really good sign relative to the leadership.”
Of course, Covid-19 has suppressed the access equipment market significantly. But Sinoboom saw this as an opportunity to strategically
Kirschenmann says the pause in activity afforded Sinoboom the chance to strategize and perfect its plans. The company went out and attracted key talent, which Kirschenmann says likely would not have been the case if the market was roaring ahead.
“From a recruitment standpoint, and building the business, we’ve had a chance to put all the foundation elements in place,” he says. “So, the strategy of not pulling back, but instead moving forward despite the pandemic, to go out and get key talent will allow us to scale the business effectively once the economy returns.”
But, of course, no one knows quite when that will be.
“It’s difficult to predict,” Kirschenmann says of what 2021 could hold. “There is some pent-up demand, and I believe 2021 will be stronger than 2020 for sure, but I don’t see it recovering to 2019 levels.”
Despite what could be a long year ahead, Sinoboom is prepared to take on what the market throws its way. Entering the North American access market was one of the company’s final “regional stops” on its global expansion map, following its European subsidiary and a new launch in Australia.
“They’re fully committed to the North American market,” Kirschenmann says of Sinoboom’s corporate management. “They fully support the business and have supported me every step of the way. It’s been a really good journey for me, and the bottom line is that I’m proud to work for this company. And I know that any customer that buys this product will feel that same sense of pride coming from us, from the ground up. It’s been a good run, and I’m looking forward to the future.”