Interview: JLG’s vision outside the Americas

The plans for JLG’s Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EAME) division are far and wide, amid ongoing pressures from economies, supply chains and new competitors.

Karel Huijser, JLG’s General Manager and VP for EAME, says the focus on customer service and product development remains strong, including a presence at Bauma, in Munich, next year. 

Karel Huijser Karel Huijser, JLG’s General Manager and VP for EAME.

Huijser joined the company in 2012 and has since then witnessed numerous changes in the industry. One of those being at JLG itself at the beginning of this year, with Mahesh Narang taking over as executive vice president and president of Oshkosh Corporation’s Access segment (JLG), from Frank Nerenhausen, who has retired. Are there to be any immediate changes at the company following Narang’s arrival?

“Mahesh is a people-first leader with a track record of driving growth and operational excellence through a clear strategic, results-driven vision,” Huijser answers, “I am confident that Mahesh will build on the exceptional work and strong legacy built by Frank Nerenhausen and look forward to benefitting from his global passion.”

An important part of that globe is the region that Huijser oversees, which, he says, JLG remains deeply engaged with.

“Like many other industries, in EMEAI the access equipment industry has experienced challenges and uncertainties in recent months, and this is due to economic fluctuations, regulatory changes, and global events.”

Huijser adds, “While I can’t comment on specific revenue or profit forecasts for this year, I can say that JLG remains committed to adapting to market dynamics and meeting the evolving needs of our customers.

“Our recent acquisition of Hinowa is a clear signal to how important this region is to JLG.”

As Huijser goes on to say, there are still opportunities for growth and innovation in the access equipment industry, “particularly as companies keep on prioritising safety, efficiency, and sustainability in their operations.”

“Looking ahead, our focus is to continue providing high-quality products, innovative solutions, like our recent ClearSky Smart Fleet IoT platform, and exceptional customer service to our customers across Europe and beyond.”

Ongoing issues 

Some challenges do remain, such as supply chain issues which first hit the industry as a result of the Covid pandemic and in some cases have still to even out.

Those challenges include, shares Huijser, “disruptions in Red Sea shipping routes, which have generally caused prices to increase and delivery times to lengthen. At JLG, we have noticed that hydraulics and electric commodities have the most backorders, but we are working hard with our suppliers to minimise the impact of supply chain issues on our customers.”

Another obvious issue for all concerned across the worldwide access sector is the significant number of new OEMs that are seeking to establish themselves in all continents, not least the EAME region. Taking this into consideration Huijser explains that JLGs aim is to focus on the unique selling points of its equipment.

telescopic boom lift, mewps, work at height, access equipment, boom lift JLG’s 670SJ telescopic, self-levelling boom lift. (Photo: JLG)

“The longer life cycle of our equipment is important in comparison to alternative manufacturers, and that we are industry leading in technology and innovative solutions, like the ClearSky Smart Fleet IoT platform, which make it easier for customers to work more efficiently, more productively and more profitably.

Huijser adds, “Listening to the concerns of our customers and continually improving our products to meet their needs also helps us to stand out from the competition.”

An example of this is JLG’s 670SJ self-levelling boom lift. “It was developed in response to asking our customers and industry professionals about issues on the job site – and discovering that many struggled with positioning elevated platform vehicles on uneven terrain.”

EC investigation 

It will not have missed anyone’s attention in Europe that there is an investigation underway by the European Commission (EC) into the alleged dumping of MEWPs exported from China – effectively undercutting existing suppliers in a noncompetitive way.

Huijser says he personally welcomes the investigation. “Healthy and fair competition is vital for the development of a robust European industry. I think a swift and decisive resolution by the European Commission to restore a level playing field for all manufacturers who, like JLG, invest heavily in the development of world-leading products, would be the best outcome.”

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Manufacturing footprint 

Expanding on JLG’s own programme for regional development Huijser comments that its manufacturing footprint has become increasingly localised and targeted. “Since I joined the company in 2012, JLG has invested in smaller manufacturing plants in Leicester in the UK (low-level access products), and in Tonneins, France (Toucan lifts).

JLG ClearSky

“These smaller plants were part of a larger strategic plan to fulfil region-specific needs and requirements. Both locations serve large markets for JLG equipment. Having smaller local facilities means we’re able to move more products and respond to changing customer demands quickly.”

In Leicester, at Power Towers, the company also built an innovation centre so that customers could see for themselves what the future will bring. “That was an important investment. So, you see, divesting from larger plants, and investing in smaller, more agile locations, is serving us well.”

On that subject, what are the plans for Power Towers and indeed the company’s most recent access-related acquisition, Italy based Hinowa?

“We are incredibly proud of our long-lasting partnership with Hinowa and being one family now.”

The collaboration began in 2010 on four compact crawler models, which Hinowa produced and JLG sold under its name outside the EU. It has since extended geographically, and now includes a line-up of six compact crawlers and the two electric EC Series Gen II boom lift models, the EC450AJ and EC520AJ.

“The EC Series Gen II introductions are a perfect example of how a collaboration based on sharing the same values, and an equal passion about product design and development successfully works.”

And on Power Towers, Huijser adds, “We are continuing to invest in the facility in the UK, as demand for low-level access products continues to rise. We are also growing this area of the business outside of the UK. Power Towers has recently upgraded its production software system – enhancing safety and efficiency and maintaining the high standards of quality that our customers expect.”

Last month JLG grew larger still with the acquisition by parent company Oshkosh of Spanish compact equipment manufacturer Ausa. It will join JLG in the group’s Access Division. Mahesh Narang, executive vice president Oshkosh Corp, and president of the Access division, said Ausa was a proven partner; “Combining our advanced technology capabilities and robust training, support and service infrastructures will allow us to better serve customers and enable targeted growth.” 

On display 

In the first half of 2022 JLG introduced its New Perspective events program, which provided inhouse-based events as an alternative to its attendance at some exhibitions. The first of those was held at the UK Power Towers facility. Access International asked Huijser what the company’s plans are in this area going forward.

“In-person customer interaction continues to be a priority for us. This year, we are planning a distributor event, most likely focusing on service, so this is a slightly different format to the New Perspective events of the last few years, which were really successful and in April 2025, we will have a presence at Bauma again.”

JLG ES4046

Moving on to product developments. Following JLG’s launch of the ES4046 in February, which completes the ES series of scissor lifts, is the company’s scissor product line complete for the foreseeable future?

“Although the new model was introduced in February,” says Huijser, “The ES4046 will be first available to the European market in May. We are looking forward to how it will be received by our customers.

“Also, we have the JLG Portable light tower. This light will make it safer and more efficient to get the job done. As a team, we continue to work on the portable light tower with the goal of finishing a successful pilot period in the first half of 2024 and roll out the product across EMEAI, Australia and beyond.”

Huijser adds, “As for other products, our team is always hard at work on innovations that will revolutionize the access equipment industry and provide our customers with even greater capabilities and solutions.”

One thing is for sure, digitalisation will continue to be important for product design. This, adds Huijser, is something that JLG fully considered when it introduced ClearSky Smart Fleet last year - the industry’s first platform for two-way fleet management and machine interactivity.

“Designed from the ground up, it will evolve in the future to bring more added value for customers, as technology develops further to meet the needs of a changing industry. In addition to that, sustainability and the ongoing development of zero-emission or low-emission equipment will also continue to be important.

“Ultimately, through the design of our products and solutions, we aim to enrich people’s lives by redefining job sites. This does not only apply to the job sites of our customers but also to the workplaces and lives of our own employees.”

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