Bendi manufactures 50% of its product range in the UK. It plans to increase UK manufacturing to 75% by the end of 2013.

Articulated forklift maker Bendi has invested over GBP100,000 (USD161,000) to ramp up manufacturing in the UK and create jobs.

Managing director Simon Brown tells Forkliftaction.com News that Bendi sales have remained stable during the global recession, and since January, the company has seen a 50% growth in orders compared to the same period last year.

“Many companies view forklift trucks as a necessary evil; however, with [our] customers, it is all about enjoying savings,” Brown explains. “Using a Bendi can save the customer a significant amount of storage space which can free up more production area, or huge financial savings can be achieved in many ways.”

It is these benefits together with the global dealer expansion program that has necessitated changes in manufacturing to cope with the demand.

Bendi director and joint owner Paul Overfield says prior to Brown taking control in 2007, Bendi “almost exclusively” sold its forklifts in the UK and Ireland. “Since then, a process of increased export activity led to the appointment of an exports manager at the end of 2009, who became export sales director earlier this year. Export this year accounts for 25% of the year-to-date order book.”

Over the past 10 years, Bendi has continued to manufacture in the UK but was forced to outsource some production to emerging markets due to rising costs.

“Recently, we’ve shipped our European-sourced parts to emerging countries where we fabricated the chassis and fitted the European parts. This has worked well. However, rising costs and the potential effects of another downturn have made us rethink our medium-term strategy,” Brown says.

Bendi currently manufactures 50% of its product range in the UK. It plans to increase UK manufacturing to 75% by the end of 2013.

“This leaves some strategic supply from overseas to protect us from sudden market instabilities and gives us a better distribution cost base for the southern hemisphere,” Overfield explains.

“By bringing the work back home, we intend to take full control of our costs during recession or growth and, most importantly, we believe that in the medium- to long-term, the UK will be the most economical place to build,” he adds.

The company has invested GBP120,000 (USD193,000) in its UK plant, buildings and equipment and the total investment sum is expected to be GBP180,000 (USD290,000).

“The increase in orders both here in the UK and in export sales has thrown up some challenges but they are nice problems to have. We already had a highly skilled and dedicated workforce in the factory so to create even more skilled UK jobs has been very pleasing for everybody at Bendi,” Overfield says.

Nearly 30 job vacancies have resulted from this expansion. The new production area mainly takes place in a building bought in 2008. Bendi has invested in cranes, two additional spray booths, a profile cutter, jigs, welding booths and plastics workshop. Other areas that have been expanded include the mast building shop, fitting bays, parts department and administrative department.