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6 June 2005

TCM to upgrade Japanese manufacturing facilities

Leading materials handling company, TCM Corporation, is to upgrade and consolidate its Japanese manufacturing facilities to meet growing international demand for its forklifts and wheel loaders.

The announcement follows the April 2005 decision by Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Ltd (HCM) to increase its stake in TCM from 30 percent to 46 percent. The move strengthens HCM's standing as TCM's single largest shareholder and positions TCM as a consolidated subsidiary.

TCM General Manager: Marketing, Mr Masa-aki Sumida, said the significant investment in plant upgrades will see the company's Shiga facility – currently home to the manufacture of smaller forklifts below 10-tonnes – transformed into a dedicated forklift manufacture plant while the Ryugasaki facility – the current manufacturing site for wheel loaders and larger forklifts upwards of 10-tonnes – will be repositioned for the exclusive production of wheel loaders.

In Australia in late May to brief the company's local national distributor, NTP Forklifts Australia, on the latest shareholding developments and their significance, Mr Sumida said the plant upgrades will allow wheel loader output capacity to rise from the current 1,500 machines per annum to 2,500 per annum. Similar growth is expected for forklifts.

"The increased HCM shareholding conveys a message of confidence in the product and a shared vision to expand global markets and augurs well for the future of TCM and its customers. In essence, TCM's strong brand position as Japan's first forklift manufacturer and its pioneering work in materials handling technological development now enjoys the added financial clout of the global Hitachi Corporation, of which HCM is a subsidiary.

"Furthermore, it is important to remember that the Hitachi and TCM partnership represents a combination of two very strong engineering companies. Our designs come from the minds of engineering people who for 50 years have been steeped in the quality required to create some of the world’s best heavy engineering equipment," said Mr Sumida.

HCM’s interest in TCM dates back to 2000 when it recognised the need for a great wheel loader product to complement its line of extractor products. HCM identified TCM as the preferred partner, entered into a manufacturing agreement and took an initial 10% stake in the company. Growth in the worldwide demand for TCM forklifts and wheel loaders saw the stake increase to 30 percent in April 2003 when HCM purchased the 20 percent held by Hitachi Shipping (an independent company not part of the Hitachi Corporation).

Commenting on the developments and their implications for the Australian market, NTP Forklifts Australia Managing Director John Naffine said he expects that TCM's strength in the local market will be further consolidated.

"TCM's association with Australia dates back to 1965, when it became the first Japanese materials handling company to enter the country. Since joining forces with NTP in 1999, sales have rising to the point where TCM is now Australia’s fastest growing brand of industrial forklift, having lifted market share from just one percent to around 10% in five years.

"This announcement certainly conveys a message of confidence in the product and its future," he said.

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