Elders provides a broad range of agricultural products and services through its 370 outlets primarily located in rural and regional areas right across the country. Operating largely outside metropolitan areas meant Elders had unique requirements when it came time to tender for a new forklift provider.
For Elders fleet manager Jeff Howarth, one of the non-negotiables in the forklift tender process was the ability to meet the requirement of having one forklift at each of its outlets.
Toyota Material Handling Australia's (TMHA's) ability to meet this requirement, and provide the associated service and backup network, was one of the factors that tipped the balance in TMHA's favour.
"It was a critical consideration for us, given that the nature of our business means we're operating in some pretty remote locations," Jeff says. "Being able to not only supply the forklifts, but most importantly provide service and backup, either directly or through reliable local agents right around the country, was very important to us."
"Being situated largely outside urban areas also means the reliability of our equipment is vital," Jeff says. "We need to be confident that our equipment is well built, robust and up to the task. We've been impressed with the Toyota forklifts and they've proven to be reliable and capable of handling any job we require."
TMHA's willingness to meet with Elders and recommend the best solution for their needs was also a deciding factor in its decision.
"Obviously, we're not forklift experts," Jeff says, "so Toyota's on-site inspection made the selection process easier. Toyota took the time to come out to assess our needs and make recommendations about the type of equipment we needed to ensure our order met our specific requirements.
"This was a real point of difference between Toyota and some of the other providers we considered, and it's one that we really appreciated," he says.
TMHA corporate account manager Peter Lown said Elders' requirements provide a good example of the range of services that Toyota can provide.
"We're always willing and able to meet with prospective customers and work out their particular needs. No one benefits if they end up with the wrong equipment, so it pays to take the time to ensure they get the right forklift from the outset."
With the benefit of TMHA's advice Elders settled on a range of Toyota's 8-Series FG forklifts, with capacity from 1.8 to 3 tonnes. The forklifts are currently in operation at 50 of its branches throughout Australia.
Toyota's popular and award-winning 8-Series forklifts contain a number of leading safety features, including Toyota's System of Active Stability technology that helps prevent tip-overs and an Operator Presence Sensing system that stops the forklift from moving unless the operator is correctly seated at the controls.
Other features include a large, easily accessible workspace with a wide foot area ergonomically designed controls and excellent forward visibility. The powerful and fuel-efficient engine tuned to minimise noise levels in enclosed environments.
"The 8-Series is our most popular range of engine-powered forklifts and has all the safety, productivity, ergonomic and performance features Elders required in a sturdy and reliable package," Peter Lown says.
Jeff explains that the forklifts are used primarily to load and unload trucks and customers' vehicles. They handle a pretty broad range of goods, from pallets of fertiliser, to feed or fence posts," he says. "They are comfortable for our staff, easy to operate and are well suited to our needs. They don't miss a beat."
The process of introducing the Toyota forklifts around the Elders network has been smooth since the tender was awarded nearly 18 months ago.
"We've had very few problems," Jeff says. "The rollout of the Toyota forklifts has been well organised. The information and follow-up we receive from Toyota is thorough and complete. On the rare occasion that we need extra information our account manager responds quickly and makes sure we have what we need."
After positive experiences with other Toyota products, the quality and reliability of the Toyota equipment came as no surprise for Elders.
"Our procurement manager had used Toyota forklifts in the past at another company, and he had good experiences there so we knew what to expect with the new forklifts," Jeff says.
"We also run a couple of hundred Toyota Prados in our fleet that are used by our staff when visiting customers' properties. As you'd expect many are in pretty remote locations so the toughness and reliability of the Prados makes them a good option for us."