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Genie sees its Oklahoma City facility as a perfect example of where the aerial device manufacturer’s future lies – the result of global growth and local responsiveness.
The company breathed new life into the plant that had once manufactured parent company Terex’s road paving equipment. Today, it spans 200,000 square feet and has become the company’s “center of excellence” for telehandlers. It also manufactures Terex cranes, and this year, Genie consolidated its reconditioning operations there.
Along with manufacturing assembly lines, the facility contains a training center, and in October, it opened its new testing ground where it puts its telehandlers through a variety of obstacles to make sure they’re ready for market. Design teams are also on site.
“It’s a five-year journey that we’ve been on of investing in this facility, moving product lines here and making it a place that we can be proud of,” said Genie President Matt Fearon. “… It’s just as good as any of the other Genie or Terex facilities.”
Genie’s global growth led it to reexamine its manufacturing footprint about seven years ago, especially as it began to reach capacity at its 350,000-square-foot plant in Redmond, Washington.
“What we found was we were growing out of Washington State,” Fearon said during a press event October 17 at the Oklahoma City plant.
The company also determined Washington was not the best location for shipping its telehandlers, about two-thirds of which are sold east of the Mississippi.
So after studying ideal locations, it settled on Oklahoma City. The company has been establishing its centers of excellence, where each plant would focus on specific products, with engineering and manufacturing teams at the same site.
“We’re making sure we have the concentration of the technical experts, the manufacturing experts, everything that comes with the product for the long-term,” Fearon said.
With that in mind, the Redmond plant has become the company’s scissor lift center. Telehandler production was moved from the Moses Lake, Washington, plant to Oklahoma City. That gave the Moses Lake plant more capacity to focus production on booms.
“We believe there is an advantage to us and our customers if we manufacture close to them,” says Jeremy Rife, vice president of operations. “It is an advantage to us if we design where we manufacture.”
That local focus, which yields speed, efficiency and quality, also pays off globally by allowing the company to remain cost competitive.
“We want to be able to ship across continents … to balance manufacturing capacity with demand,” Rife said.
Just as Genie has seen sales grow, it has also experienced intense competition, making leaner manufacturing imperative.
“I’ve been at Genie for 23 years, and I can tell you I’ve never felt as much competitive pressure as I feel right now,” Fearon said.
“… We’re seeing the competition from all corners. We’re seeing it from Europe; we’re seeing it from China, from Japan.”
“The aerial space is attractive,” he added. “The reason they’re coming into it is because it’s a very healthy industry. Everybody sees the global potential.”
Part of Genie’s remaining competitive lies in its manufacturing process. Along with the Oklahoma City plant, a plant in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and the two facilities in Washington, the company has plants in Italy and in China. The China plant has recently completed its second phase of adding 100,000 square feet of space. A third phase is in the works.
Fearon says the company has seen “nice, steady growth” in China. India and Korea are other growing global markets.
In North America, the company also sees continued growth. It expects its Oklahoma City plant to one day catch up to the size of the Redmond facility.
To fend off the competition, Genie plans to focus on innovative products, including the company’s new XC line of aerial platforms, which meet future ANSI standards, and hybrid technology, Fearon said.
Overall, though, he believes Genie faces a competitive advantage in having 50 years of manufacturing experience.
“We’re getting very comfortable with duplicating production lines,” he said. “… For the incoming competitors that we see, we feel we’ve got years of experience manufacturing on multiple continents, managing supply chains around the world, having identical product designs, and controlling our engineering changes, controlling our production rates. All of that takes a lot of very skilled people and a lot of experience.
“… The AWP (aerial work platform) market continues to expand. You’re going to continue to see Genie and Terex face into it and fight back.”