Material handling is a truly global business, a fact that was readily apparent during a recent visit to Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America Inc. (MCFA) headquarters in Houston, Texas. Everywhere we went, we heard visitors and employees speaking Japanese, English, and German.
Those languages reflect the company's three lift truck brands: Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks (Japan), Cat Lift Trucks (United States), and Jungheinrich (Germany).
Japanese speakers have been a fixture at MCFA since Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Caterpillar Industrial Inc. formed a partnership in 1992. The German speakers entered the picture as a result of MCFA's 2009 North American manufacturing and distribution agreement with Jungheinrich AG. For the next three years, MCFA sold trucks imported from Germany. But the partners had created a Jungheinrich design center in Houston staffed with German engineers who were tasked with designing products specifically for the North American market. In March 2012, MCFA unveiled the first product designed and manufactured in Houston: the ECR 327/336 series of electric end rider pallet trucks. MCFA's strategy not only shortened the design-to-production cycle without compromising quality but also eliminated cost and pricing concerns associated with currency fluctuations, said Kent Eudy, vice president, sales and marketing.
MCFA covers the Western Hemiäphere and has counterparts in Europe (which also serve the Middle East and Africa) and Asia-Pacific. A new venture, Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift China, manufactures those brands for domestic consumption in China. According to Eudy, a factory in Dalian, China, has plans to export forklifts to Latin America and eventually to export lower-priced IC trucks under the Mitsubishi brand to the United States. Cat's lift trucks will remain a U.S.-manufactured product, he added.