The roots of Cargotec go back almost four decades. The Finnish company owes its current structure to a series of mergers and acquisitions in the 1970s, laying the foundation for the creation of the state-owned company known as Partek. A turning point came in 2002 when Partek was acquired by the Finnish elevator manufacturer Kone.
Cargotec took then its current shape when the Kone Corporation spun off its load handling, container handling and marine cargo handling businesses in 2005. Since then, Cargotec has been listed on the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki stock exchange. Much of Cargotec’s success can be given to its clear vision “to be the world’s leading provider of cargo handling solutions.”
Cargotec may be a relative newcomer, but its daughter brands – Hiab, Kalmar and MacGregor – are known around the world. “The three daughter brands complement each other well, allowing us to share knowledge and technology between the different business segments that the brands serve,” explains Harald de Graaf, executive VP EMEA since 2006.
Hiab, for example, specialises in onroad load handling equipment. The program consists of cranes mounted on trucks for loading and unloading, truck-mounted lifts, demountables, Hiab Moffett and Princeton Piggy- Back truck-mounted forklifts, containers for waste collection and forestry cranes for stacking timber.
“Hiab excels in this segment by offering excellent value,” explains Mr. De Graaf. “We sell high volumes thanks to our quality products at an affordable price. The typical end users for the Hiab brand are operators of trucks, such as recycling companies, construction supply delivery trucks, logistics companies and logging teams.
Recently, Hiab has teamed up with Mercedes Benz and MAN in Germany to design and develop new solutions for the road. Kalmar is the product for handling equipment in ports, terminals, distribution centres and heavy industry. The program runs the gamut from terminal cranes and ship-to-shore cranes unloading and loading goods on and off vessels and tankers to reach stackers, shuttle and straddle carriers, container handlers, forklifts and log stackers.
In addition to ports, it also sells its equipment to saw, paper and steel mills as well as container businesses. “We draw on our decades of experience in this market to address the needs of our customers and the life cycle of products. Kalmar is at the forefront in terms of automation and energy efficiency.”
At the high end of the range is the MacGregor product, which specialises in customised equipment for ships, barges and tankers as well as the offshore market. The program covers on-board cranes, hatch covers, RoRo and cargo lashing equipment as well as bulk and offshore load handling systems
Cargotec understands that its customers are making a long-term purchase that they expect to operate the equipment for years to come. This is why the Finnish handling specialist has made after-sales service a priority. “We round out our program with a strong service component,” points out Mr. De Graaf.
For example, it keeps 650,000 different spare parts in stock available for ordering 24/7. In addition, Cargotec offers its customers maintenance contracts covering the life of the equipment. Maintenance personnel can provide basic inspections, preventive maintenance and comprehensive full-service contracts.
Cargotec also offers retrofitting, refurbishment and conversion of existing equipment to extend its life cycle or tailor it to a new application. Finally, Cargotec works closely with the employees of its customers to provide in-depth training, ensuring that its customers get the most out of their investment.
“Our philosophy is to design and produce high quality equipment that will perform well in a variety of conditions and environments,” explains Mr. De Graaf. “Moreover, we strive to build not just products, but to provide complete solutions. We spend much of our time thinking about what kinds of equipment our customers need to improve their businesses and become even more successful. These efforts are then channelled into our R&D. We are working to create energy-efficient, increasingly sustainable and safe solutions. Cargotec has the advantage of transferring know-how across different industries and transportation segments.”
Cargotec is a well-known presence at international trade fairs. “We tailor the strategy to each event,” says Mr. De Graaf. “As the Hiab products are primarily distributed through an extensive network of dealers, we emphasise the Hiab product range at events like the IAA; the Kalmar products focus on events like the Terminal Operator Conference (TOC); while MacGregor steers towards marine exhibitions, like the recent SMM in Hamburg.”
Such events have cemented the position of Cargotec’s brands in key international markets. By virtue of Finland’s size, the company has needed to look well beyond its borders to larger markets like Germany, France, Spain and Scandinavia as well as emerging markets like Russia, Africa, and the Middle East. “We are strongly represented in North America and also in Latin America and Asia, where we see tremendous potential,” points out Mr. De Graaf.
And to serve its increasingly international clientele, Cargotec has moved aggressively to position its manufacturing close to its customers, producing its handling equipment in 18 different countries. While Cargotec was hit hard by the global economic crisis, like its customers, it has bounced back. Orders for Q4 2010 were up 54% over orders for Q4 in 2009. Little wonder that the Finnish handling specialist has sales of 2.6 billion EUR in 2010.
Looking to the future, Mr. De Graaf is confident that Cargotec is on its way. “We are a company with our roots in engineering, but we also bring a strong service program to the table. Our emphasis today is finding solutions for and together with our customers, but also for new ones. This is the evolution of our business.”