Omme Lift continues to invest in new markets and products.

By Maria Hadlow12 June 2012

Omme’s 2750 RBDJ shows how tracks negotiate difficult ground conditions.

Omme’s 2750 RBDJ shows how tracks negotiate difficult ground conditions.

The affects of the recession did not stop Omme Lift continuing to invest in new markets and products. Maria Hadlow talks to joint owner and director Harry Lorentsen about a company poised for the upturn.

Through the recession Danish trailer mount and crawler platform specialist, Omme Lift has continued to invested in product development and new markets.

At its height in 2008 Omme Lift's annual turnover was €29 million. At its lowest during the recession it was €9 million, but in 2011 grew to €15 million.

Harry Lorentsen who, together with his brother, is the third generation running the family business, said that he expected the company turnover to be between €20 to €22 million in 2012 and back to 2008 production levels in 2013.

Production levels at the time of Access International's visit at the beginning of the year was seven machines a week - at the peak two and a half machines were manufactured a day.

"Investment has continued in the company," says Mr Lorentsen, "Even through the depression, we were thinking about new products."

Omme's latest track mounted platform is the third new machine to be launched in the last three years.

It is a 25m working height machine, with nearly 13m of outreach and most importantly, advocates Mr Lorentsen, a good up-and-over performance of 7m (see box for full details).

New development

The new 2500 RXBDJ was shown to Access International as a prototype model but will shortly be available to the market.

The 25m working eight model has been introduced to help complete Omme's range of tracked platforms, which currently range from 22m to 37m.

Mr Lorentsen says that Omme has worked at developing machines that are easy to use both with its tracked platforms and trailer-mounts.

"The majority of sales are to rental, which means it must be easier to show the end user how to use it. I bet, if put up against similar types of machines from different manufacturers, Omme platforms would be easier to use than any of others," he says.

"It is a big advantage to have the trailer range as the controller has the same appearance as on the crawlers."

This commonality continues into components and, where possible, the same components are used across the range for the same function. This makes Omme Lift products easier to maintain and service and helps with training.

Owning the expertise

Before the recession hit, Omme Lift had begun building to increase the assembly area and staff facilities. The additional space includes a fitness centre, canteen area and spacious changing facilities.

It is clear that the Lorentsen brothers are committed to their employees - having worked their way through the factory when younger, relationships are strong.

During the downturn some reduction in the workforce was necessary, but already some have returned. "We managed to keep the core of the workforce, currently there are 100 employees and, by Spring, we expect to have more than that, " said Mr Lorentsen.

Retaining staff is important at Omme Lift for other reasons too: the Lorentsens believe in keeping expertise within the company, which is the reason the majority of the manufacturing is carried out inside the company.

"We have tried outsourcing and subcontracting but the quality is not as good," says Mr Lorentsen, "and we like to keep the knowledge in the factory.

"Some specialist parts are made in India and Eastern Europe, but we keep a very close watch on the quality," he said

"Our booms are welded at factory but cut and formed by external specialists."

85% export

Another continual investment before and during the recession has been into developing new global markets, 85% of Omme's turnover is from export into 70 countries.

Omme supplies, not only Europe, but North America, China, Russia, Austrailia, Africa and the Middle and Far East.

Mr Lorentsen is seeing definite signs of market improvement, "The big rental companies have been quiet for some years," he said, "In 2009/2010 they did very little. Now both small and larger rental companies are ready to buy new equipment.

"The economic situation is holding them back a little, but they need to do something - they can't wait."

Mr Lorentsen says that rental markets have been good in the last two years in Germany and Scandanavia - except Denmark. Budgets for the UK are also looking up (see box).

"We have good feeling about the Middle and Far East and have a new dealer in India (last 6 months) and have been represented in China dealer for some years."

Omme has sold 25 machines,in China, which tend to be the bigger tracked platforms machines, for shopping centres, airports, hotels and for cleaning and maintenance.

"As Chinese salaries go up there are more possibilities and opportunities in this market," says Mr Lorentsen.

It is important to Omme to be able to serve a lot of markets: it has Russian certification on all its trailer and tracked models, including use permits and road approvals, ready for a Russian market, which could begin to boom at any time.

Tracked Access represents Omme in the USA - where Mr Lorentsen says the market performed well in 2011 - usually half the machines on order are destined for the USA.

"The day is coming where rental companies are not looking to buy cheapest model," says Mr Lorentsen, "They are looking for machines with good residue values and a better machine during its working life too."

It isn't just quality of machines that are important it is good service and the speed of spares.

"All machines have accidents and break down it's how you deal with that situation that counts," says Mr Lorentsen, We have had no complaints in that area for many years."

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