27/10/2020 - 15:17 pm

Cooma hardware business marks decade with Toyota

High Country Truss and Frames and partner business Cooma H Hardware, mark a decade of exponential growth thanks to a fleet of Toyotas equipped to deal with expanding workloads in Canberra’s booming building industry.

Located 100km south of Canberra in Polo Flat, Cooma, in New South Wales’ Snowy Mountains region, the business has three Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) forklifts and a sweeper at the centre of their daily operations.

The trusses, frames and flooring systems they produce are constructed from Hyne T2 pine timber and multinail metal connector plates. The business started out in the single residential segment and has since branched into large-scale multi-residential, with some jobs being up to 100 townhouses.

Mirroring its staff growth from three to 20 employees over the last decade, the Toyota ‘engine room’ at the heart of the third-generation family-run business started with a single gas-powered 2.5 T 32-8FG25 forklift in 2013. Two more – another 32-8FG25 and a gas-powered 3.5 T 32-8FGJ35 forklift – were added over a seven year period. 

Duties include using the forklift for handling large packs of trusses and wall frames. One of the 2.5 T units handles smaller packs in the plant and its twin is used in the hardware store for loading and unloading building materials. 

High Country Truss and Frames manager David van der Plaat said the business had some older forklifts from another brand, but as they reached end-of-life, he was influenced for several reasons to make the Toyota switch. “Toyota’s reputation for quality preceded it ahead of our decision to purchase TMHA equipment and they have proven so reliable, we added another, and then another to our fleet. We can’t afford downtime so we need them to be consistently dependable. Our first one is seven years old. We haven’t had any issues with them, so we’re happy with the product.”

He added that the most recent addition to the business was a TMHA SP850 electric walk-behind sweeper 12 months ago, predominantly for cleaning the hardware store warehouse and drive-through.

TMHA area sales manager, Mark Elvins, said Toyota’s reputation for Quality, Durability and Reliability (QDR), resulting from the high standards of the globally employed Toyota Production system, was a key selling point.

“Cooma was the first home of Toyota in Australia, because of the original Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme, so our brand is strongly affiliated with Cooma historically and has proven our reputation for durability and reliability here since 1958.

“Another tenet of the Toyota Advantage is lower total cost of ownership and that’s something David came around to. After initially buying cheap equipment, he realised that caused him problems and ultimately cost him more in the long term. Elvins continued: “The price of a forklift is only a small part of the total costs incurred during a forklift’s operating life and our forklifts can save businesses thousands with less downtime, impressive productivity and generally higher resale values.”

Elvins said: “We also have one of the largest nationwide branch networks in Australia so we’re never far away if a customer needs us. David is only an easy drive down the highway.”

Van der Plaat agreed: “We used to have a different outfit for servicing, but now we have Toyota to do it all. They are geographically close and have a regular servicing cycle which they stick to. It’s convenient because one service technician can look after all the machines in a single visit and it’s easy to get parts because they stock them”.

When asked to pick the most prominent feature that influenced his decision to sustain his relationship with Toyota forklifts for a decade, van der Plaat said: “Ultimately, it is their reliability that is definitely the biggest thing, for me. Oh and I love the colour!”

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