First in a series of byte-sized one-on-one visits with construction industry insiders.
1. What’s your outlook for the U.S. market?
Right now the telehandler side of the business is strong; we can hardly build enough. A lot of that is rental fleet replacement. Skid steers have been strong through Q1. Compact track loader sales are picking up, and we’re working on two new models. That gets us a third size, so we’re essentially back where we were when we were with Takeuchi. You should see the first one out in December. The other one will be a short time after that. For skid steers we’re pushing hard on Tier 4; we’ll have a re-worked line in 2013.
2. There’s no real difference between the Gehl and Mustang compact track loaders and very little with the skid steers; how is that a sustainable model?
In the past, Gehl has been looked at as more of an Ag brand, where Mustang’s the construction equipment brand. It’s worked. I don’t know that that’s been the aim, but both names are very valuable. Russia took a bunch of units last year and they were all Mustang—it was because they liked the horse [logo]! The Mustang name hasn’t been quite as strong as Gehl in the U.S. But we need to do more differentiate the brands and that’s our plan, so we’re not fighting or killing each other.
3. What’s your value proposition vs. the “big guys,” Bobcat, Deere, Cat, Case?
We try to be extremely customer intimate and user friendly. We offer competitive control choices, joystick or T-bar. To some degree, skid steers have become a commodity item, but we make sure our quality is supreme. We want to be that alternative choice, and be known for service and support. I feel like our deal with Yanmar is going to take us to a new quality level overall. Additional products and engineering opportunities will open up down the line because of that. We’ve agreed to do a study about building excavators over here, as well.
Others in our series: