A few years back, Bonide found itself facing the classic growth challenge—at least where its distribution operations were concerned. The Oriskany, N.Y.-based company, a third-generation family-owned and -operated manufacturer of home, lawn, and garden pest-control products, had experienced a decade of double-digit sales growth. While that was great for the bottom line, it had put a strain on the back end of the operation, leaving the company scrambling to make good on its 48-hour-to-ship commitment to its customers.
It was clear that without some major changes, things were only going to get worse. With business exponentially growing, the warehouse needed more space to move product, the current workflow was laborious, and the facility had no room for expansion.
After evaluating its warehouse operation, Bonide concluded that a big part of the problem was its lift-truck fleet. The lift trucks were inefficient and plagued by issues that were causing significant downtime, slow processes, and missed deadlines. The company was also dissatisfied with the service it was receiving from its lift-truck provider.
For help finding a fix, Bonide brought in Pengate Handling Systems, a material handling and storage solutions provider and authorized Raymond sales and service center. Together, the partners developed a plan that included switching to Raymond trucks, a new brand for Bonide. As an initial step, they launched a three-month test run of Raymond electric lift trucks.
By all accounts, the pilot was a success. "We had struggled with maintaining lift trucks in the past because they were constantly needing attention and causing downtime. Raymond trucks proved to be the exception when we ran our test. They were easy to work with and made a significant contribution to us reaching our efficiency goals," said Bill Szalkowski, facilities manager at Bonide, in a statement.
The switch to Raymond trucks also brought service benefits, including quick turnaround time when it came to getting service technicians in the door. "We have very rarely had to wait longer than 24 hours to see a service technician," Szalkowski said in the statement. "And most of the time, service was needed because of operator error, not the truck breaking down."
Today, Bonide uses more than 50 Raymond trucks at its warehouse. Models range from the Raymond 4000 Series stand-up and sit-down counterbalanced forklift trucks to the 8210 walkie pallet truck to the 7000 Series universal-stance Reach-Fork truck. Bonide's fleet also includes 8000 Series pallet trucks.
But the collaboration didn't end there. Owing to a recent warehouse addition, Bonide was also looking to redesign its warehouse. Pengate was able to help out with that project as well—in this case, by determining the optimal rack configuration and helping ensure the trucks would properly interface with the racking. After conducting a site assessment, the dealer recommended that Bonide increase its rack height by eight feet and go with a narrow-aisle racking system of nine feet, six inches.
It's been five years since Bonide overhauled its warehouse operation, which included adding the Raymond trucks and redesigning the facility. Today, Bonide solely runs Raymond trucks, and those trucks support the new 28-foot-high racks in the storage area and the 20-foot-high racks in production, with full capabilities to reach and move materials. On top of that, the changes have enabled the company to significantly boost its production and reduce the number of forklift touches per skid.
Completely reworking the racking system and switching out the trucks in its fleet was a huge culture change for Bonide and an ambitious project to embark on. The company is pleased with how Pengate and Raymond contributed to its success. "We have no hesitation in continuing to work closely with Pengate on future projects and to find Raymond solutions to improve our business even more," Szalkowski said in the statement.