Manitou's Bruno Fille spells out Gehl plans
By Murray Pollok18 December 2008
Manitou executive vice president Bruno Fille said the priority for its newly acquired Gehl business was to expand its sales internationally through the Manitou network. A second "key goal" is increased sales of Manitou telehandlers into the US agriculture sector through Gehl's distribution network.
Mr Fille told IRN that "the first objective will be to support the Gehl expansion on a worldwide basis...we have strong dealerships in some parts of the world to develop Gehl and Mustang." Manitou has previously said it saw an opportunity to double Gehl's US$457 million revenues in 2007 within three to five years.
The key Gehl products in this expansion will be its skid steer loaders, which Manitou will be able to sell to existing customers worldwide under the Gehl brand; "We will not offer skid steer loaders in red [Manitou's colour]", said Mr Fille. He added that it was the intention was for Manitou to retain the Gehl and Mustang brands over the long term, and to maintain their separate distribution networks.
"It will be a step by step approach. Where it is possible we will do it. We have to respect distribution agreements...They [Gehl/Mustang dealers] made a wonderful job", said Mr Fille, "we want to reinforce the international network, and add some dealers."
He said the company was now looking at building synergies between the two companies, with one particular opportunity to build Manitou telehandlers at one of Gehl's two facilities in South Dakota using US-sourced components. The first Gehl-built handlers are unlikely to be produced until early 2010.
Manitou is not planning to manufacture Gehl's skid-steers at its main production facility in France for the foreseeable future, although Mr Fille said the company was considering a plan to build the compact articulated loaders currently built by Gehl in the US mainly for the European market. Manitou also intends to retain its existing manufacturing facility in the US where it makes masted forklifts and truck-mounted forklifts.
Mr Fille said that Manitou, like other construction equipment manufacturers, was scaling back on its production output, with no Friday working during October and November and a two-week shutdown at all plants this month.
"For the construction sector, we will have to pass through a difficult year", he said, "There are absolutely no positive signals...in any part of the world. For agriculture, we have some opportunities, especially in Europe."
He told IRN that the company had not yet finalised its budgets for 2009, but did say that the decline in sales was unlikely to exceed 25-35%.