Room to Grow

By Karen M. Scally

Chinese manufacturer LGMG brings scissor lift line to North America with goal of targeting independent rental companies.

When Chinese heavy equipment manufacturer LGMG looked at the North American aerial lift market, the company saw opportunity.

Small to mid-size independent rental companies had needs that the current market wasn’t meeting, and there was room for additional players in the space to provide solutions, according to LGMG, which stands for Lingong Group Jinan Heavy Machinery, a subsidiary of Lingong Machinery Group.

With the assistance of a pair of industry veterans that know this market and more than four decades of manufacturing experience, LGMG made its official North American debut at the 2019 ARA Show in Anaheim, Calif., launching an initial line of scissor lifts.

Founded in 1972, Lingong Machinery Group is one of the largest construction equipment manufacturers in China, says Sean Gao, director of finance for LGMG North America, which is based in Chambersburg, Pa. About four years ago, the company started making MEWPs, and last year, the company sold about 8,000 units in China, Gao says. They also have a base in Europe.

But the U.S. is the key, growing market the company is targeting, says Gao, who graduated from Ohio State University and is relocating from Toronto to Pennsylvania. He also has a personal connection to LGMG, with his father serving as a Lingong Machinery Group director.

The company enlisted Craig Paylor, the former president of JLG Industries who saw the OEM grow from a $30-million business to a $3.1 billion during his more than 30 years there, and Rusty Kaylor, who has over 40 years of rental company experience, to help them get their start here. Both Paylor and Kaylor, who have known each other for about 30 years, say that independent rental companies are in need of quality, cost-competitive MEWP options for their fleets, and that is what LGMG brings to the table.

“There’s a niche out there for small independent rental guys who need some numbers that will get them in the ballgame again,” says Kaylor, who was the CEO of Alliance Rental north of Atlanta prior to its sale to Ahern in 2013 and came out of retirement to help launch LGMG in the U.S. “The guys that are getting the great prices are the big companies, and I can understand why the big manufacturers give the big rental companies a really good price. We’re not trying to match that price. We’re just trying to get the small independent guys who want to buy half a dozen or a dozen—we want them to be able to get a number that they can live with in this marketplace.”

A Competitive Option

Paylor says LGMG’s scissor lift line, which is compliant with the new ANSI and CSA standards, offers a variety of options, from the self-propelled, low-level SS series, which starts with a platform height of 12’30”, to the electric or hydraulic AS series, which range in platform height from 19 ft. to 45 ft.

“Each model has a different price point,” Paylor says. “All the price points are very competitive and allow people to grow their businesses by buying a quality product with good service and support.”

Some of the lifts’ differentiating characteristics when it comes to quality is their smooth deck extension, universal drive controller, larger scissor arms for increased stability, easy-to-access serviceability, water-resistant powder-coated finish, and mostly American components with Trojan batteries, says Dan Bishop, the operations manager for LGMG

This is where drawing from their experience both on the manufacturing and rental side helps them understand what features are important to the independent rental customer in LGMG’s sights, such as an advanced battery charger that can bring the machine back from a dead state to full charge without external help, Kaylor says.

“There’s a lot of small things that add up to big differences, especially if you’ve been in the industry and you’ve dealt with it on a day-to-day basis,” he says.

LGMG maintains consistency over the line through a lean manufacturing process at their two plants in China, which employ about 4,000 people according to Gao, with the ability to make about 100 units a day.

The company has set up two U.S. parts and distribution centers, with one at its Pennsylvania headquarters, and the other in Ducktown, Tenn., with several hundred units in stock to initially focus on sales and service in the East. They have hired a team of about 10, and Gao says they’re aiming to bring on about 20 more employees by year’s end. Paylor says the goal will then be to expand and cover the rest of North America, setting up additional distribution centers in the Midwest and Texas next.

But Paylor says the plan is to grow strategically—LGMG has no interest in selling product they can’t service, he says, noting those are two factors why there was opportunity in the market in the first place.

“The way I like to look at it is we don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver,” he says. “If we can’t deliver or service the machines in a timely manner, we’re not going to promise that we can.”

In fact, Paylor says at the show, LGMG had to turn away some customers they wouldn’t be able to service adequately at this point. The company already has the interest to sell more models—including a rough terrain scissor lift line it plans to introduce in the coming months—when it is ready.

“Everybody that I’ve spoken to … they appreciated the quality of the product and the price point offered for the product; and we’ve had a lot of attention,” he says.

The management team of LGMG North America includes industry veterans Craig Paylor, left, and Rusty Kaylor, who are joined by Sean Gao, director of finance, and Dan Bishop, director of operations

A Solid Reputation

In addition to LGMG’s goal of offering a solution to a segment of the market, Gao says the company is also here in North America to learn as the brand builds on its reputation of lifting material to lifting people—and it is eager to hear feedback from customers.

“It’s also important to note that we’re not trying to be anything right now,” Kaylor says. “We’re just trying to get our products out in the field—let our customers see that it’s a good quality product—and enhance their opinions of a Chinese-made product that’s being managed by a North American veteran management team.”

As other Chinese aerial lift manufacturers look to enter the North American market in the near future, LGMG can count its veteran team as another distinct benefit to have in its corner.

Kaylor says he was enjoying his view from his porch during his retirement, when the product basically compelled him to encourage his friend Paylor to go for another round.

“We’ve been very careful about not tarnishing the last 40 years,” Kaylor says. “With the product that’s here, we feel that it will just enhance the last 40 years … when it’s time to go back to the porch.”

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