Manitou reorganizes compact equipment division after tough 2020

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Manitou unveiled its prototype Gehl 165E electric skid steer at ConExpo 2020.
Manitou unveiled its prototype Gehl 165E electric skid steer at ConExpo 2020.

Manitou Group has launched a new five-year business plan as it heads into 2021 and strives to recover from the pandemic-induced economic downturn.

The plan involves consolidating two of the company’s three divisions: material handling and access equipment (forklifts, telehandlers and aerial platforms) and compact equipment (skid steers, compact track loaders and articulated wheel loaders). The company’s Services & Solutions Division will remain separate.

The company hopes to boost performance through streamlined operations, such as developing modularity of product ranges and standardized components. Another tenet of the plan includes a focus on green initiatives, including low-emission electric and hydrogen products.

The New Horizons 2025 plan calls for increasing recurring operating profits to more than 8 percent by 2025. It also plans around 460 million euros ($557 million) in investments over the next five years.

For the nine-month period ending September 30, the company saw total sales declines of 28 percent when compared to the same period in 2019, according to its third-quarter financial report. The company reports fourth-quarter results January 28.

The largest drops were in the material handling and compact equipment divisions, which saw decreases of 33% and 26%, respectively.

The newly named and merged Products Division will be chaired by Elisabeth Ausimour, previous president of the material handling and access division. She was appointed to lead the material handling division last January and is based in France, where Manitou has its headquarters.

Rick Alton, the former president of the compact equipment division, left the Manitou Group in the fall, according to the company. He was appointed to the post in 2017 and was based out of the company’s North American headquarters in West Bend, Wisconsin.

The company’s compact equipment brands include Gehl and Mustang by Manitou, which it purchased in 2008. The company launched its Manitou brand of compact equipment in 2019. The machines of all three brands are identical but with different color schemes and brand names. They are manufactured in the United States. The company launched its forklifts and aerial lifts in North America in 2018.

As part of cost-cutting measures during the pandemic, the company announced in 2020 it would close its Waco, Texas, plant in March 2021 and consolidate operations in Yankton, South Dakota. The Waco plant has 148 employees. The consolidation is expected to create 50 new positions in Yankton for manufacturing articulated wheel loaders and forklifts, the company has said.

Michel Denis, Manitou president and CEO, said the second half of 2020 was stronger for the company after a dismal first six months when the pandemic led to lockdowns around the world and to the company's plants. In the second half of the year, the company ramped up production and saw an increase in orders.

“The very good order-intake dynamic observed during the third quarter was strongly amplified at the end of the year,” Denis said. “However, the uncertainties resulting from a very unclear sanitary and economic environment remain strong.”

He expected the next five years, though, to be brighter for the company.

“We start the year 2021 reorganized and reshaped with a new roadmap, ‘New Horizons 2025,’ full of ambitions and challenges,” he said.