With its headquarters in Belgium and UK offices in Coventry, TVH has made its name since 1969 as the leading independent company in replacement parts for material handling, access equipment and in-plant industrial vehicles. Up to the end of 2010 TVH’s business was called TVH Forklift, denoting its previous focus. Now renamed TVH Parts, its scope has widened to include access equipment within the unique TVH ‘All Makes’ programme.
In a UK forklift marketplace led by OEMs and distributors, the TVH team is forthright about being pure parts specialists and not providing servicing, repair or rental in the UK market, as outside Benelux they are a parts-only company. TVH’s USP is that it offers just that, a ‘Quick Source’ of supply. In today’s rapid environment you need expertise in getting the right part number every time to get your forklifts up and running again.
Warehouse & Logistics News spoke to Danny McAllister, General Manager of TVH UK & Ireland.
Warehouse & Logistics News – Roughly how many different parts, for how many different makes and models of forklift, does TVH carry in the UK?
Currently we carry over 450,000 parts. Our list covers more than 14 million cross-references, and increasing.
WLN – What about other countries?
We offer the same parts coverage worldwide, because in most countries our parts supply runs on one computer network, accessible everywhere.
WLN – How big is TVH worldwide?
WLN – Given the large numbers of OEMs and distributors in the forklift and access platform markets here and in Europe, what was the inspiration for setting up a parts-only supplier business?
TVH wasn’t conceived at the outset as an industrial machinery parts supplier. We began business in 1969 in Belgium repairing machinery, and in the Benelux TVH is also active in rental, service and repairs, but outside this area we focus on selling parts and also used equipment from a fleet with in excess of 1,200 units for sale.
WLN – How quickly can you deliver replacement parts, and where to?
We can deliver parts in the UK before 9.00am, but the majority of orders are next day or within two days. We can supply to a drop box or overnight to an engineer’s vehicle, both of which are becoming more and more popular.
WLN – What’s the single biggest item you carry?
We can deliver from stock anything from nuts and bolts to a forklift chassis.
WLN – When was TVH founded, and who by? When did you come to the UK?
TVH was founded in 1969 by Paul Thermote and Paul Vanhalst, hence ‘TVH.’ We came to the UK in 1992.
WLN – Who owns TVH now?
Paul Thermote is still involved, along with Mr Vanhalst’s son Pascal. The other directors are Paul Thermote’s daughters, Ann Thermote and Els Thermote, and Bernard De Meester, who is married to Paul’s daughter Ann.
WLN – Where is TVH based?
Our head office is in Waregem, Belgium, on the main motorway network. Our UK office is in Coventry.
WLN – How can people enquire about parts?
They can enquire by fax, email, online or phone.
WLN – How do Coventry and Belgium, the two locations, work together to deliver a seamless service?
Our phone system spans Belgium and the UK. We take calls here and in Belgium on a UK number 02476 585000. We identify the parts the customer requires, along with their account details and trading history, to establish a discount structure, and then we offer them the appropriate parts at an appropriate price. The one system does it all. For UK orders, most stock is held in our Belgian warehouse.
WLN – How often do you add new parts to the list?
We’re adding new parts every day.
WLN – Do you have a printed catalogue?
We have a master catalogue in printed form and on CD, which we update every two years in print and CD, and another catalogue called PARTS FROM COVENTRY that covers the fast moving products which we keep here, which we issue in print and digital form every six months.
WLN – Who’s involved in the UK besides you, Danny?
On the road, we have our area sales managers out visiting customers. Internally we have a team who are in daily contact with customers working on enquiries and orders and providing general sales assistance such as technical support and interpretation, a warehouse function, finance function and a technical ‘look-up’ function. For the UK catalogues, ie Parts from Coventry and latterly the Consumables, Dennis Pickering is in charge of our parts marketing and decides what goes in these publications in response to recent customer demand. Every week we contact our regular customers by fax and email with offers, and in this way the publications effectively generate sales for our products whilst at the same time they are market driven.
WLN – How do you achieve your high level of efficiency?
TVH UK is supported totally by Belgium. First there are our IT systems, covering order picking and tracking. The second factor that makes TVH more efficient is the add-on benefit of our technical sales desk. They talk to the customers, ask questions and ensure people have the right set of parts at the end.
WLN – When did you set up TVH UK in this present form?
We’ve had a UK warehouse for a number of years. but ten years ago we moved to a new warehouse in Coventry. It gave us space to store what we call heavy items – literally big, heavy items like forks, pallet trucks, battery chargers, seats and tyres. We filled the warehouse with products that customers requested, all fast moving inventory which turns over at least ten times a year, and advertised it as carriage included in the UK. No-one else was offering this back then.
WLN – Which are your biggest selling products?
The list at any time includes hand pallet trucks, forks, fork extensions, battery chargers, gas spares, battery connectors, chains, tyres and consumables.
WLN – Can you tell us about your QUICK SOURCE service?
Quick Source is an added value service to which we give selected customers access, depending on our trading relationships with them. It’s an in-house portal, enabling customers to view the different parts available and their prices and dimensions. It lets the customer take total control and ensures a spread of delivery options and allows them to choose the right method of shipping, all decided by them to suit their needs. We have substantial customer support in place to ensure we meet all the customers’ requirements for their order and that they are one hundred percent happy with the parts we supply.
WLN – How does QUICK SOURCE work?
It’s detailed in the back of our catalogue, or visit www.tvh.com/quicksource. It’s a free programme, available in 20 languages. There is an online inquiry and order programme for all parts, with instant price and availability 24/7. You can source over 250 brands and access 14 million references and all TVH catalogues online. You can call us for free on VOIP phone. You can also use TVH Quick Source for technical support, order tracking and tracing back orders, printing invoices and labels, and download and save your invoices in one go. We have a very high customer retention, but in the rare event you’re not satisfied you can file and follow up complaints on line as well.
WLN – One of the major services you offer that no-one else does is your system called DPA’s, dedicated preferred agents. How does that work, and which customers are eligible?
The Preferred Agent service is open to all our regular customers. Each customer is allocated to a particular sales manager based on their postcode. The sales manager has a team of Preferred Agents based in Belgium and the UK who have access to the sales manager’s accounts and build up close relationships with customers and really get to know them and their business. They spend time proactively, talking to the customers in their area. No one else in our industry does anything like this. Everyone on our UK sales desk in Belgium speaks fluent English, and is committed to building bridges and becoming very familiar with the customer so that we can help them in the greatest possible depth.
WLN – What effect has the recession had on demand for your service in the UK, do you think?
I’m pleased to say, the recession has had absolutely no lasting effect on our business. Yes, like any business, we saw turnover go down temporarily over the period but you learn to make things better, and we’ve picked up again.
WLN – Any plans to roll the TVH parts service into more countries?
TVH UK Ltd
Tel: 02476 585 029