HUELVA, Spain – Manitou Group has turned its business around and is profitable again after a rough stretch, President and CEO, Jean-Christophe Giroux, said at a recent company event.
Lawn & Landscape made the trip to Spain for two days to be part of Manitou Group’s, The Festival, where the company gave an overview of how it is doing financially, and where it’s headed in the future. More than 1,000 people, including dealers, customers and press, attended the two-session event last week at Punta Umbria in the South of Spain. Manitou Group includes the brands EDGE Attachments, Gehl and Mustang.
Giroux said the purpose of the event was to show that after three years of doubt, the company was going in the right direction. After the company acquired GEHL in 2008 at the start of the economic decline, it hit a rough patch, but Giroux said the company has paid down €400 million of its €480 million debt and is profitable. He also addressed rumors that the board of directors has asked him to sell the company, which he said were not true.
“We’ve adapted and adjusted everywhere,” he said.
The event also included a long line of equipment for people to try and conferences and roundtables. Lawn & Landscape also spent some one-on-one time with Dan Miller, president of Manitou's Compact Equipment division. Here are some highlights from the conversation.
• The company intends to grow its articulated loader line for landscapers in the future. “We introduced three models of that in North America and five models of that in Europe, but we still plan to go even bigger in Europe,” he said. “So, I think that will appeal a little more to the North American market as we get bigger equipment in that zone.”
• The company officially has cut ties with Takeuchi, which will give Manitou more control over its product. “The track loader line is really new and innovative,” he said. “While we distributed Takeuchi for almost 10 years, having our own product now, we have control of our own destiny – some really good money saving features like that (HydraTrac Automatic Track Tensioning.) That track is the biggest wear item on a loader and typically guys don’t keep them adjusted and don’t take the time. Now the useful life of that track is going to expand and their cost of ownership goes down. It also helps them in repairing that machine in the field. And that’s not an add-on track system. That is designed to do what it is going to do, much like the Takeuchi with some other features.”
• The company also has a strategic business alliance with Yanmar, which you can read more about here. He said the partnership will help the company control price, and Yanmar will push Manitou to be a better company.
• Manitou is in the process of converting to Tier IV. Miller said the cost internally doubles to go from Tier III to Tier IV interim. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to pass all that on, which makes it tougher,” he said. “But at the end of the day that is what we see.” Miller said. He said from a fuel standpoint, converting to Tier IV interim will result in a better performance. “Otherwise, we have taken an approach on some models, where we maintain horsepower down to stay outside of having to go to interim IV. If you were below 75 horsepower, you could do that,” he said.
• In speaking with his dealers, he is hearing the design/build market is picking up, as is new construction in some parts of the country.
• Miller said dealers are seeing more rentals for skid-steers, which is different from the past. “It used to be telehandler guys would rent because they were so expensive. We’re seeing a little more rental on the skid loader side right now because, coming out of the recession, some people are more cautious. That being said are sales picked up dramatically in 2011 and that continued on into the first quarter of 2012.”