UniCarriers Americas manufactures a full line of forklifts that set the standard for reliability and uptime.
It’s not difficult to understand the role forklifts play in moving the products of the world forward. From ports and airports to shipyards and trucking, most products could not get to their end destination without a forklift.
That’s why companies like UniCarriers Americas Corporation (UCA) are necessary to keep the businesses of the globe moving.
UCA is an American company that designs, manufacturers, and supports a complete line of material handling equipment. The company is part of a global industrial powerhouse, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Forklift & Engine Turbocharger Holdings, Ltd. (M-FET), which is now the third largest forklift manufacturer in the world.
While the UniCarriers name has only been around a short while, the company is has a rich history made up of three companies that span more than 100 years.
Barrett Industrial Trucks, founded in 1914, was a pioneer in bringing a new generation of electric powered equipment to the material handling market. TCM founded the forklift manufacturing industry in Japan, producing the first ever Japanese-made forklift in 1949. Nissan Forklift began operations in 1957. With its acquisition of Barrett in 1988, it became the first Japanese manufacturer of all five classes of material handling equipment in the U.S.
“Throughout the years our brand name may have changed, but our product quality has not,” shared James J. Radous III, President of UCA. “In fact, our product quality has grown stronger. Over the years we have applied learnings to give our clients second-to-none product reliability, higher productivity, and lower total cost of ownership.”
In addition to making forklifts, UCA’s wholly owned subsidiary, Global Components Technologies Americas, Inc. (GCTA), manufactures the popular engines K21 and K25. The engines are so good that direct competitors purchase them to include in their forklifts.
In December 2016, UCA will insource transmission production for their internal-combustion, cushion-tire lift trucks. This insourcing will provide UCA with expanded control over cost, lead time, and quality.
Nationwide Dealer Network
UCA has partnerships with over one hundred authorized forklift dealers across the Americas, resulting in hundreds of different locations. UCA also owns seven factory stores across Wisconsin and New England—Capital Equipment and Handling and New England Industrial Truck Inc.
“The heart and soul of our business is our hard-working dealer network,” said Radous. “They are material handling experts that work tirelessly to find the right solutions for their customers.”
This past September, UCA recognized the top ten dealers throughout the Americas with a President’s Club Award. To join this elite club, dealers must surpass goals in new equipment sales, market penetration, aftermarket parts sales, service expertise, overall performance, and professionalism.
Another important component in UCA’s business is their supply chain. Supply chain success for UCA includes a commitment to solving problems, improving processes, and sharing savings. UCA hosts an annual supplier conference to better connect with members of its supply chain, allow suppliers to share their success stories, and to recognize its top-performing partners with The Supplier Excellence Awards.
Due to relationships with UniCarriers Americas, several suppliers have established U.S. operations near UCA’s Marengo headquarters.
“Having our suppliers show such a strong commitment by adding local operations has not only helped streamline production, it has also brought more jobs to our local community,” explained Radous.
Innovative Online Training Programs
Before, UCA—like all other companies in the industry—had a hands-on training program where students and teachers would need to travel for classes. Research indicated that UCA (Nissan Forklift at the time) dealer technicians were the best trained in the business. Travel time and costs limited the program, so UCA went to work to come up with a better solution.
“There was no way we could hire enough people to train at all UniCarriers authorized dealerships. So we created a three-level online training forum instead,” shared Radous.
To help spread knowledge quickly, UCA launched an innovative online training portal called UniCarriers University. The portal hosts a plethora of online training modules for operators and service technicians. Operators can learn how to maximize job safety and productivity, while service technicians can gain new knowledge and skills needed to keep trucks up and running.
Service technicians can achieve three levels of certification: apprentice, journeyman, and master. A students move towards the top level, the training becomes more hands-on. In short, the online program has shifted time and effort to developing better educational content instead of traveling across the country.
“It’s a great program, and we continue to enhance it,” Radous said. “This year we’ve added a general parts section so the service technicians can better understand every piece that goes into our trucks. The next phase, which is in the works, is to launch comprehensive sales training to help our dealers understand product features and benefits, and how they compare to our competition,” said Radous.
The cost benefit for the dealers, plus the easy-to-update online module approach, makes UCA’s training program one of the best in the industry.
It’s the very attitude that defines who UCA is and the equipment the company produces. Never quit is the spirit of the very men and women who build some of the world’s best forklifts: it’s felt throughout the whole organization. This attitude is reflected in every machine UCA produces and in every service the company provides.
This never-ending pursuit of perfection began more than a century ago and can be seen today in every UniCarriers Forklift model. While each machine is unique, they all share key qualities, like dependability, efficiency, productivity, and performance.
“It really boils down to a strong work ethic and a team who is committed to working together.” said Radous.
It takes a lot more than just steel to build a quality forklift. That’s why UCA has invested millions of dollars in state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities offering some of the best production efficiency processes. UCA’s ISO 9001:2008 certification illustrates their commitment to quality manufacturing and continuous improvement.
UCA’s large engineering staff is focused on providing innovative designs that continue to make its products easier to operate, faster to service, and more reliable. As a result, UCA forklifts offer improved fuel economy, service points that are easier to access, smart meter panels that automatically detect system anomalies, and components with fewer moving parts and less wear points. In fact, when it comes to UCA’s home-grown engines, they are so innovative that UCA’s direct competitors use them.
UCA is so sure of its product quality that products are backed by the best limited warranty in the entire industry: a two-year, unlimited hours warranty on every class I, IV, and V forklift the company manufactures.
UCA’s President believes in developing the local community. So when Roosevelt University discovered that Radous, an alum of the school’s MBA program, had earned the title of President at UniCarriers, the school reached out to see if it could create a special mentoring program between UCA and the Heller College of Business.
“It’s a great opportunity for UniCarriers,” Radous shared. “Now, they’ve asked us to consider doing media with them on behalf of the university to discuss the things you can achieve with a degree from Roosevelt. It’s still early on, but it’s all very exciting.”
Radous is interested in sending a group of students from the program to one of the UniCarriers’ international facilities for a week-long forum. As other collaboration opportunities come about, the College of Business MBA program can begin to work as a feeder system, allowing UCA to attract strong, young talent in the country.
UniCarriers has been diving deeper into research and trends to understand future customer needs. In the near future, UCA has plans to close product gaps, so its dealer network has a strong product solution for every end-customer need.
Platinum II Series
Powered by UCA’s GTC K21 and K25 engines, the Platinum II sets the standard for performance, using less fuel and delivering more cycles per hour in a variety of demanding applications. These forklifts are common in: manufacturing, warehousing, recycling, beverage/bottling, and trucking.
Platinum II Nomad Series
The Nomad is the industry’s only indoor- outdoor compact pneumatic forklift. Also powered by UCA’s K21 and K25 engines, it provides the ultimate combination of power, torque and low emissions. It also boasts a shorter frame (than standard pneumatics) which allows for precision maneuverability in confined spaces (like a cushion tire counterpart). These forklifts are ideally suited where both indoor and outdoor lift trucks are needed.
The WLX Series offers pallet trucks that are highly efficient, highly productive, and delivers UCA’s legendary reliability. These forklifts are common in: loading and unloading trailers, supermarkets, grocery wholesalers, warehousing, bottling operations, and department stores.
National Forklift Safety Day
This never-quit culture also extends to the company’s commitment to safety. This year UCA, with other leaders in the field, celebrated the third annual National Forklift Safety Day. Radous chairman of the event.
“It was my honor to serve as the chairman for this year’s National Forklift Safety Day. The purpose of the event is to reduce forklift accidents and to improve operator training,” said Radous. “We want organizations to focus on safety every day, not just on National Forklift Safety Day, but it's good to have a special day to highlight the issue. We're not just discussing this among ourselves within the industry. We also talk to national policymakers, and we were successful in getting a number of states to pass National Forklift Safety Day resolutions.”
Plus, UCA’s factory stores offered free operator training and recertification on National Forklift Safety Day.
A Decade of GrowthEach year, UCA continues to grow its presence, its revenues, and its headcount globally. Over the last few years, UCA has expanded its resources and captured new customers across Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.
This past September, UCA added another 200 parking spaces for employees and guests at the U.S. headquarters.
“This new parking lot is a symbol of UCA’s growth,” said Radous. “In fact, our workforce has grown by 40 percent over the last four years, and we anticipate more growth in the future.”
UCA’s Marengo headquarters covers over a half-a-million square feet, and more construction projects are planned to coincide with UCA’s expansion.
The future looks very bright for UniCarriers Americas.
“Almost every aspect of product delivery requires a forklift—so there’s nowhere to go but up,” said Radous.
To achieve exceptional customer satisfaction and a reputation for reliability in the movement of goods around the world.
Reliability. It’s at the heart of every piece of equipment UniCarriers Americas produces. Their mission is to help customers achieve maximum uptime resulting in greater productivity and profits.