The beginning of a successful relationship
When MH Equipment of Peoria, Illinois, one of the country’s largest and fasting growing material handling service providers and a long-time dealer of Hyster and other name-brand forklifts, bought Elite Supply Chain Solutions two years ago, an Ohio-based, Design Build company for the warehouse, distribution, and order fulfillment industry, it still remained to be seen if the synergies between the companies would provide win-win-win opportunities for their clients, MH, and Elite.
All the signs seemed positive, though, according to Scott Hennie, President of Elite. “MH Equipment’s primary business is its lift truck sales and service,” he explains. “Elite Supply Chain Solutions works in a very similar market by designing and implementing what we call ‘integrated systems,’ which is essentially the equipment that stores and moves product within a warehouse and distribution center and the software that goes along with it.”
Hennie says that a typical client for Elite is any company that is involved in warehousing, distribution, or order fulfillment. “And within that industry, the market segments are food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, retail, automotive aftermarket, pet supplies – essentially anything in the supply chain is a potential client of ours,” he says. “We will work with clients from a facility that is anywhere from 50,000 square feet to two million square feet. Our customers range from family-owned entities in the $20 million revenue range to Fortune 500 companies traded on the stock exchange.”
So the benefit for MH Equipment in this partnership is to be better able, now, to penetrate Elite’s client base by supplying the lift trucks – the machinery that lifts and moves product – to the same customers that have benefitted from Elite’s integrated solutions. “MH Equipment was looking to expand its core business and thought this might be one opportunity to create that expansion,” Hennie says. “So they purchased Elite and made it part of their business offering to complement the lift truck side.”
Of course, Elite can likewise benefit from MH Equipment’s current and potential clients who are located across 30 company locations in eight regions and across several states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. “Part of the business model for Elite,” says Hennie, “is to take existing relationships that MH Equipment has with their clients and have MH Equipment introduce them . . . and vice versa.”
After two years, it appears that the union is a strong one and that this partnership was truly made in corporate heaven. “It brings a total, turnkey solution to our customers,” Hennie exults. “Not only the storage and the inventory movement equipment that Elite provides, but also the lift truck part of an operation that typically is needed in a distribution center.”
Dannelle Dahlhauser, Director of Marketing and Sales Support for MH Equipment, agrees. “A good portion of MH Equipment’s customer base is looking for facility solutions such as that offered by Elite; and with forklift services being MH’s primary offering, we are a natural fit,” she says. “Anything that needs to move people or product – we have a variety of material handling equipment, forklifts being our primary line.” Scott remarks upon the strength of working in tandem from a marketing perspective. “There are only a handful of organizations that have both capabilities under one umbrella,” he states. “So, if our clients are looking to have a single source supplier, those sources are very limited. Within our market footprint, there are geographic areas where we are the only ones that can provide that level of value.”
Hennie goes on to cite an example of the kind of synergy of which this dynamic duo is capable: “In the lift truck marketplace, there’s been a shift from what has historically been classified as ‘sit down/fossil fuel type trucks, to ‘stand up/electric trucks. Historically, MH Equipment has been very strong in the sit down/fossil fuel type,” he begins. “Why that’s significant is that the world that Elite plays in – the warehousing, distribution, and order fulfillment world – is very much a major user of these stand up/electric type trucks. So, that creates an opportunity for MH Equipment to work with Elite and generate the applications and the opportunities to bring that product to the marketplace.”
While working together to serve that same marketplace, both companies are also continuing to expand and innovate own their own. “We’ve made a couple of pretty significant investments in the last six months,” Hennie says. “Two software packages – one is a 3D modeling and animation software package that allows us to develop our designs in a 3D model and to simulate the operations for the customer. I think that’s very significant in helping the customer understand the solutions that we’re providing; enabling them to see what the results are and how the operation will actually function. The second software package is an inventory modeling software package that will allow us to take a customer’s inventory data and then, through the software, generate the recommended storage equipment type based on several criteria that we input. That criteria can be how fast or often the item moves, or certain physical characteristics of the item.”
For its part, MH Equipment recently rolled out a new fleet management program with its own proprietary software. “We take a customer’s fleet and add all of their equipment information into our software program and then we’ll manage their fleet from that program, letting them know when their service is due, if there’s been any operator abuse, etc.,” Dahlhauser says. “It’s a very robust system that can also work in conjunction with some of the things that Elite does, as well, once they begin discussions of equipment,” she adds, once again alluding to the combined focus of the two entities and how well they complement one another.
As the marriage continues to blossom, Dahlhauser reports that MH Equipment is intent upon moving more aggressively into the stand up/electric market. “The market is shifting from IC (Internal Combustion) lift trucks to predominately electric with electric lift trucks now comprising approximately 60 percent of the market’s purchases. So, obviously, we would like to be a bigger player in that game,” she says. Hennie says that one of Elite’s long-term goals is to have an Elite office or presence in each of the regions that MH Equipment currently operates in. “Right now, Elite is headquartered in Hudson, Ohio, and we have a Sales Engineer in one other regional office,” he says. “But, ultimately, we will have an Elite presence in each of the eight regions that we operate.”
While it’s clear that the corporate marriage of these two harmonizing companies is apt to provide much economic benefit to their mutual bottom line, like any strong union, the pairing must also be built upon a deeper sharing of company tenets and beliefs. Happily, that is precisely what sealed the deal, according to Hennie. “When Elite and MH Equipment started talking, there was a lot of synergy in our vision, and our values, and our mission. Both entities take our vision, mission, and values very seriously. If you look at our logos and our taglines, you’ll see the words: People, Passion, and Purpose,” Hennie says emphatically. “All people matter and are due honor and respect; our passion unites us; and our purpose is to make the communities that we work and live in, better places.”
People, Passion, and Purpose – not to mention first-class, engineered solutions paired with first-class equipment and machinery. It seems that the merger of Elite Supply Chain Solutions and MH Equipment is indeed, just the beginning of a successful relationship.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Elite Supply Chain Solutions & MH Equipment
WHAT: Elite Supply Chain Solutions is a design build company for the order fulfillment industry; MH Equipment is a material handling service provider
WHERE: : Elite Supply – Hudson, Ohio; MH Equipment – Headquarters in Chillicothe, Illinois
Burroughs Corporation – The 75 year-old corporation, headquartered in Kalamazoo, Michigan, manufactures a wide range of storage products, including: – Mobile Shelving, Industrial Storage, Book Depositories, Multilevel Systems, Boltless Shelves, High Density Drawers, Shop Desks and Cabinets, Work Benches, Archival Flat Files, Herbariums, Weapons Storage Cabinets, and Bulk Storage Racks. – www.borroughs.com
Steele Solutions – Based in Franklin, Wisconsin, Steele Solutions designs and fabricates mezzanine systems, equipment platforms, towers, catwalks, and crossover bridges for material handling and storage, and support for conveyors, equipment and machinery, and other industrial and commercial uses. The company has installations worldwide and works through systems integrators, distributors, OEMs, design/build companies, and end users. – www.steelesolutions.com
Teilhaber Manufacturing – Teilhaber Manufacturing Corporation was established in 1977, in Broomfield, CO. It is a wholly-owned and operated United States of America company committed to manufacturing high quality, durable cubic utilization equipment to suit its clients’ storage needs. Its main product lines are “Q Shelf” rivet shelving, “Q Rack” teardrop style pallet rack, and “Q Mezzanines” free standing storage platforms. – www.teilhaber.com
Nashville Wire Products – www.nashvillewire.com
Engineered Products – www.engprod.com