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Arrow Material Handling Celebrates 40 Years In Business

Friday, May 1, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO — The company began humbly enough in 1969 on Kansas City’s east side. Two partners decided to start a company specializing in wrecking out old forklifts and selling the parts. They found success, so they expanded to manufacturing and remanufacturing components and assemblies, using cores from the wrecked forklifts. This brought more success and the need to buy new parts in volume to continue remanufacturing at competitive prices. But the company, then known as Arrow Forklift Parts Manufacturing Corporation, was not an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and suppliers were reluctant to give them the same discounts as they did OEM’s.

Undaunted, then owners Leo Hallak and George Owens overcame this obstacle by acquiring Economobile Manufacturing Company, a small forklift OEM, thereby giving Arrow the purchasing power it needed to continue to grow. While the company never again built a complete forklift, Arrow manufactured and remanufactured components and attachments such as engines, clutch assemblies, torque converters, transmissions, hydraulic pumps, starters, side shifters, and carriages under the Economobile trade name. This new purchasing power also led to stocking and reselling new parts, and by 1976 Arrow had transformed from a forklift ‘chop shop’ to one of the industry’s premier wholesale suppliers of aftermarket parts, attachments, and remanufactured assemblies.

Business was good, and Arrow enjoyed over a decade of prosperous growth. Then the industry itself began to shift.

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“In the early to mid 90’s our industry became flooded with sellers of commodity parts, such as starters and brake shoes. The suppliers who’d once been reluctant to sell to non OEM’s began to open up and Arrow went from being one of few, to one of many wholesale aftermarket resellers. It became dog-eat-dog with prices and profit margins declining as everyone vied for business” said Ross Gault Sr., Arrow’s President and CEO.

“We decided to focus solely on products we considered as our core competencies; fork tines and attachments. Arrow’s staff included skilled metal workers and engineers with the talent to use these core products as a base to design and build new and innovative product lines. Our sales department was excited about these new opportunities because it gave them something distinctive to sell and the products were top notch quality.”

In addition to outside market shifts George Owens, who by that time was the sole owner of Arrow, was ready to retire. Gaslight Equity Group, LLC, a private equity group that partners with middle market entrepreneurial businesses, retained Arrow’s management team, purchased the assets of Arrow, then added capital to buy additional inventory and expand the companies’ production capabilities.

As Arrow evolved from a supplier of parts to an attachments manufacturing powerhouse, its business grew so substantially the company changed its name from Arrow Forklift Parts to Arrow Material Handling Products (AMH for short), to better reflect the current product offerings.

AMH continues to evolve and grow. In 2008 the company defied high transportation costs and the economic turndown by opening two distribution centers; one in Chesapeake, Virginia and one in Commerce City, California.

For more information contact Mary Nicodemus, Director of Marketing at 816/285-5215 or via e-mail at mary@AMHAttachments.com.

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