28 May 2016

Forkliftcenter sells, rents and leases forklifts from the heart of the Amsterdam port. Owner Bjørn André de la Porte explains how he finds flexible solutions in a fluctuating market.

Although the forklift business is in Bjørn André de la Porte’s DNA, Forkliftcenter, of which he is the CEO/owner, is not a family business. “My father started a company trading in forklifts back in 1967, which he later sold. So you can truly say I grew up in this business. When I started Forkliftcenter in 2002, my father even helped out for a few years.” In the nearly 15 years since its establishment, Forkliftcenter has developed into a major player in the indoor transport world, De La Porte continues. “We rent, sell and lease forklifts – from pallet jacks to reach stackers – and provide after-sales services, which include maintenance and repairs. In the field of relatively new preowned equipment, in particular, we are one of the world’s leading players.” 

Custom made
Asked how Forkliftcenter fits into the port logistics framework – for instance with regard to the unloading of breakbulk – De La Porte refers to the moment when the cranes have completed their major tasks. “Unloading vessels starts with cranes, which place the cargo on the quay. From thereon, our equipment continues the logistic process, with reach stackers and terminal trackers which remove the cargo; when vessels are loaded the process is the complete opposite.” Due to the versatile demand, Forkliftcenter is always looking for flexible solutions. For example, the company has forklifts that can be placed on board to remove goods from a vessel and put them on a trailer. If necessary, equipment can even be fully custom made. 

“We developed bespoke forklifts for shipping company Grimaldi in cooperation with the manufacturer. These 42- ton forklifts have the exact height for using in the spaces below deck so that Grimaldi can unload its own vessels. Who could have imagined that we would be involved in such completely unique projects. And the great thing is that now these machines have been built, we can also supply them to other clients.” Not that Forkliftcenter is only focused on large projects. “We offer small to large-scale: from complete machinery to single units; from smaller terminals to the world’s biggest. And we are brand independent, which means we can provide clients with bespoke advice.”

At the hub of everything is the head office in the Amsterdam port, where Forkliftcenter has premises covering three hectares on Hornweg. Even though not all clients are port related, this is where things start. “Our clients may be shipping companies, as well as terminals or large transport companies. We start in the port, from where we determine how we can be of service to the surrounding industrial companies and suppliers. As well as an office in Amsterdam, we have established sales locations in Dubai, Australia and Panama. My goal is to have a presence in ports that are experiencing growth and from where we can quickly provide services worldwide. We’re looking to open more offices, although I can’t say where yet.” 

‘The future has become more difficult to predict for all of us’
So what further developments does De La Porte anticipate in the Amsterdam port? “The future has become more difficult to predict for all of us. People prefer shorter commitments. Everyone depends on contracts and terms, and we see these terms getting shorter. There are two ways to respond to this in our sector: with short-term rental or lease schemes, or by selling relatively new pre-owned equipment. The latter is especially interesting to us as we can provide the same service for used items as manufacturers offer for new products. And we can take back equipment after a year or two.” 

Golf carts
Surprisingly, the company also lists golf carts on its website among the many forklifts. Does Forkliftcenter also supply those? De La Porte laughs: “Yes, we do – because they are extremely easy for getting from one side of a large port premises to the other. It is a secondary but convenient activity. The carts are used wherever they are allowed – which isn’t everywhere – and clients are very happy with them. And no, I don’t intend to start supplying golf clubs too.”

Article from Amports Magazine May 2016 (Breakbulk special edition)
Tekst: Paul de Lange
Photo: Forkliftcenter

Related link : www.amports.nl/media/451575/za2-2016-breakbulk-eng.pdf