A bit different demo
B.C. heavy equipment dealer Great West Equipment took a bit of a >different approach in presenting their equipment to potential customers this past summer, setting up a demo site at one of Tolko's mill facilities
From bygone days in the forest industry when the horse and crosscut saw were replaced by motorized skidders and chainsaws, up to and including today's modern line-up of sophisticated, computer-enhanced and highly-productive forestry machines, manufacturers as well as their dealer groups have been searching for the most effective method to get their equipment in front of potential customers.
In those early days, this equipment was often displayed at the dealer's place of business...usually in town. Customers were asked to drop by, invited to walk around the chosen piece, kick the tires, start the engine...but that was about it. Hands-on, real-time demonstrations were not practical, and thus usually not an option.
Vernon, B.C.-based Great West Equipment (GWE) took a different approach recently, when the dealer launched a summer-long, mill-specific, live equipment demo.
For this past summer's mill demo, Great West Equipment received support from all three of their major forestry and wood handling machine manufacturers: Volvo Construction Equipment, Sennebogen North America, and Madill
Great West Equipment started by arranging to use a portion of Tolko's very busy mill log yard in Lavington, B.C. as a demo site. They got several major brand manufacturers on board to supply the latest versions of mill-specific, wood-handling equipment, and then invited their current and potential new customers to come and get hands-on with each piece and to stay-and-play for as long as they wanted.
Colin Matejka, Great West Equipment COO, talked about the company's equipment line-up. "Great West has always been a highly motivated service organization and for a number of years the B.C. distributor for the complete Volvo Construction Equipment line.
"But to be a total-solution provider to the wood processing industry, we needed more than just an award-winning wheel loader. So in 2008, we added the Morbark line, Sennebogen in 2010, and Madill in 2011. All world class products in their own right. For the first time, we were confident that we could be a total-solution provider for this very important group."
Even though they had the equipment, the company's biggest challenge still remained how to let potential mill customers know what GWE had. Everyone in the company understood that mill customers do not buy on the spot, but they needed to find a customer-convenient way to showcase all they had to offer and thus put the company on the radar for wood processing mills.
"A few months back, our strategic planning group got together and agreed that we needed to blaze a new trail," explained Matejka. "First we hired Wayne Wood, who has years of professional experience servicing mill customers throughout western Canada. His first job was to find a customer satisfactory live-demo location and then assemble a variety of mill specific, wood-handling machines from our various manufacturers."
Great West Equipment arranged to use a portion of Tolko's very busy mill log yard in Lavington, B.C. as the demo site. Equipment manufacturers supplied the latest versions of mill-specific, wood handling equipment, and Great West Equipment then invited their current and potential new customers to come and get hands-on with each piece.
Success was almost immediate. In speaking with Wood, who is corporate sales manager, mill yards & wood fibre, and Sennebogen product manager, he expressed total satisfaction in the response the company has received from customers. "We've had teams of mill personnel from various B.C. wood processing mills... Cranbrook, Merritt, Princeton, Armstrong, Kamloops and of course the local mills," Wood explained. "These customers love the ability to get all the machine-specific information they need, climb all over the machines if they wish and then stay and play. We just keep out of their way and let them work with the equipment for as long as they want."
"It's our opportunity to give customers the choice to use the equipment in the most real conditions possible and—most importantly—at their convenience," added Ross Davidson, Great West Equipment President and CEO.
"Tolko Lavington is a working mill yard, with real logs, and we have real machines equipped with a variety of attachments. And although each mill may do things a bit differently, the demands are the same: Unload and deck the logs, move them to the mill and care for the finished product, and do so at a profit. Mills that don't make money do not survive in today's economy. Everyone at GWE understands that and wants to work with our customers to help them achieve their business goals."
Great West has received support from all three of their major forestry and wood handling machine manufacturers for the mill demo: Volvo Construction Equipment, this year celebrating 180 years of manufacturing success, Sennebogen North America, and Madill, one of Canada's oldest and most respected forestry equipment brands. Each company worked with Wood and the GWE team to supply the latest, most advanced equipment from their current product selection. Company representatives were made available on site as well.
The Lavington demo location had three of the latest model Volvo wheel loaders on site, a Volvo L150G, L180G and an L220G, each equipped with log handling grapples. These loaders range in size from 25 to 36 tons and are powered by 295 to 366 hp Tier 4i engines.
Madill had their latest 2850C log loader, powered by an 8.3 litre Tier III Cummins and weighing in at just over 44 tons when grapple-equipped.
The Sennebogen 830 MDT wheeled, high lift, high efficiency loader, although not a new brand on a global basis, is relatively new to the western Canadian market and is certainly attracting the attention of both mill owners, managers and operators.
Kevin Robillard, log yard supervisor at the Weyerhaeuser SPF mill in Princeton, B.C., accompanied a number of his operators and maintenance personnel to the GWE Lavington site and had very high praise for what they experienced.
"This has been a phenomenal opportunity for us to come and take a look at a number of different pieces of equipment," he stated.
"Our operators can not only sit in a unit, but actually use it in a log yard setting. We often get to demo a piece of equipment somewhere, but we don't get a chance to run it through the congested areas of a mill yard, the log deck area and the rough ground we often encounter in our yard. That process makes it very difficult to assess how the machine will handle the different conditions that we face on a daily basis.
"But this setting gives us an excellent opportunity to compare what we are currently operating and what Great West has brought here to show us."
Allan Hampshire, log yard and mobile supervisor at Tolko's Lavington mill, was equally complimentary about what Great West had set up. "Each mill is a little different and it's important to have the right piece of equipment for each application. Handling cut-to-length vs. tree length, unloading trucks or decking logs or working on feeding the mill on the hot-deck requires different material handlers.
"There was a variance of equipment from wheeled log loaders to high lifts and tracked, and butt 'n top loaders. It's a terrific opportunity for different mills and contractors to come and actually operate the piece of equipment that is right for their application," said Hampton.
Roger Dobie, corporate sales manager for Great West, says the mill demo has been a win-win for both the company, their current customers and of course their perspective customers.
"In the wood handling business, we believe that one brand does not fit all and that's why we have worked so hard to assemble the product line that we have. Here customers can come to one location and operate not only three different brands of equipment but equipment that is the right fit for their various applications." Everyone seems to agree, Great West Equipment has worked hard to successfully put a new twist on an old tale