Celebrating 30 years of delivering excellence to the forklift industry, Toyota Forklift, a division of Eqstra Industrial Equipment (“EIE”), marked this important milestone in the company’s history, together with dignitaries from Toyota Industries Corporation (TICO) and Toyota Tshusho Corporation (TTC).
A celebratory event, which took place on 8 October 2014 at Toyota Forklift’s state-of-the-art workshop in Germiston, South Africa, was hosted by EIE CEO, Gary Neubert, and attended by Mr Ted Toyoda, Chairman of TICO, in addition to other dignitaries from the Eqstra Board, Toyota South Africa, customers and over 60 loyal employees who have been with the company for more than 20 years. A sake barrel was broken at the event, signifying the strengthening of the partnership between Toyota Forklift, Toyota Industries Corporation and Toyota Tshusho Corporation, and its commitment to the continued delivery of innovative and quality products to the southern African materials handling industry.
“Partnership is about a win/win trust relationship, not just between our customers and ourselves, but also between the OEM, the supplier of our products and ourselves, and between the staff and ourselves,” said EIE CEO Gary Neubert.
From its small beginnings in 1984 when, as Saficon Industrial Equipment, it was responsible for the local manufacture of the first Toyota forklift, Toyota Forklift is a story of remarkable growth, achieved through technological superiority, insightful business strategy and customer-focused service delivery. Over the past 30 years, in parallel with the introduction of new, more advanced forklift models, Toyota Forklift has extended its product range into warehousing, as well as widening its service offering with the inclusion of rental and used equipment, after-market services and operator training, in addition to other value added services.
“The biggest single event, in my opinion, was the launch of the 5 series,” notes Don Bailiff, former CEO and founder of Saficon Industrial Equipment.
The revolutionary Toyota Series 5 forklift was launched in 1986 and, in 1988, Saficon Industrial Equipment celebrated accumulated sales exceeding 1,000 units. This achievement was soon to be surpassed as, in 1989, the company sold 500 units in just one year. In 1996, the new Toyota Series 6 forklifts was launched, and once again sales were impressive with, in 1996, a record 1,650 Toyota forklifts being sold. By 1997, Toyota Forklift (then still known as Saficon) had grown to the extent that it was deemed the sixth largest Toyota Industrial Equipment distributor worldwide, celebrating, in 2000, 15 years in business by delivering its 10,000th forklift. In 2003, the company was awarded International Excellence status by the Toyota Industries Corporation.
Strategic acquisitions and major distribution agreements have also fuelled the company’s growth. In 1989, the acquisition of Surequip was the catalyst for launching the rental business, while in 1994 the forklift range was broadened with the inclusion of larger units through the signing of a distribution agreement with Kalmar of Sweden.
A distribution agreement with BT Industries of Sweden in 2000 marked Saficon Industrial Equipment’s entry into warehousing equipment, with the same year also seeing the acquisition of Impact Handling Equipment, a UK distributor of forklift, warehouse and logistics equipment. In 2001, Toyota Industrial Equipment acquired 100% shareholding of BT.
Now trading as Toyota Forklift, in 2004 Saficon Industrial Equipment celebrated 20 years as a world-class leader in the forklift industry, adding, a year later, a custom-built Toyota Forklift building in Cape Town as its flagship branch.
“While we are proud of these achievements, and our association with the global Toyota group, we also welcomed the opportunity at our 30th anniversary celebrations to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of our people to our success. Many of our staff have devoted much of their working lives to this company, a remarkable distinction in this business environment, and the event therefore also celebrated the loyal service of staff with 30 years or more with the company,” commented Gary Neubert.
As the sole distributors for Toyota Forklifts, BT and Raymond Equipment in Southern Africa, Toyota Forklift is able to meet all customer warehousing and materials handling requirements, offering rental and used equipment, after-market service, operator training as well as a range of other value added services. Distribution and service is carried out through branches in the main centres with depots and dealers complementing the Southern Africa network.
Eqstra Industrial Equipment (“EIE”) provides distribution, leasing, rental and value-added services for industrial, materials handling and agricultural equipment in South Africa, various other African countries, the UK and Ireland. The division is the largest supplier of forklifts to the South African market and has the largest product support infrastructure in the region. In line with this model, the division has supplemented its offering of forklift equipment with value-added services and products such as batteries and chargers for forklifts, industrial cleaning equipment for client’s premises and the supply of compressed air. EIE is a division of Eqstra Holdings Limited.