Total logistics solutions provider CLARK raises business efficiency
- CLARK fuses its heavy-duty American manufacturing heritage with the distinct Asian zeal for growth to create CLARK Material Handling International
Country Business Reports interviews and articles by Discovery Reports
For a company that has already celebrated its 100th year manufacturing the toughest lifting machinery in the world, pursuing growth may be an obsolete strategy, but for forklift inventor CLARK, the business is yet to unfold in Asia. With 350,000 lift trucks operating worldwide – 250,000 of those running in North America alone – CLARK continues to innovate ways to improve its products, expand its service and provide value to customers in Asia and beyond.
Acquired by South Korean corporation Young An Hat of Bucheon and headed by chairman Baik Sung-hak, CLARK fuses its heavy-duty American manufacturing heritage with the distinct Asian zeal for growth to create CLARK Material Handling International.
Following Baik Sung-hak’s desire to practice sustainability as a guiding principle for doing business, CLARK still adopts the highly successful lean manufacturing system in all its assembly plants as it transitioned to its South Korean plant. The facility focuses not only on efficient production, but also on the quality of its products and services.
“Everyone knows CLARK, so when we took it over in 2003, we knew there was a huge opportunity for it to rebound,” says Baik Seung-soo, CEO and vice-chairman of CLARK Material Handling International. “We only made some changes in the management and executive levels, and we rebuilt the global network while infusing a growth mentality.”
CLARK has one of the broadest product lines in the industry with trucks ranging from 1,500- to 18,000-pound capacities. Its major lines include narrow-aisle stackers for liquefied petroleum gas, gasoline and diesel, electric riders and powered hand trucks.
The company is updating its product portfolio to include solutions that meet the needs of modern markets, applying South Korean know-how to deliver localised fixes across the Asean region. Its electric vehicle offering, for instance, now covers 60 per cent of its automotive market as it features significant improvements over traditional engine vehicles.
Today, CLARK operates six manufacturing facilities, six research and development (R&D) centres and 11 sales subsidiaries worldwide as it bolsters its globalisation strategy. With one of the largest dealer support networks in the material handling industry, the company boasts 550 locations globally with representatives in more than 80 countries.
“We focused more on setting up the infrastructure such as manufacturing capacity, engineering and research,” Baik Seung-soo says. “We strengthened our supply, distribution and marketing sides to satisfy customers. We are now in a better position to serve markets wherever they are.”
While considered an incomer in Asia, CLARK invests heavily in R&D to quickly catch up and be a material handling forerunner in the automotive, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, aviation and semiconductor industries in the region.
“Slowly but surely, one step at a time, we fulfil each territory’s requirements,” Baik Seung-soo says. “We invest in improving our product portfolio to gain the confidence of customers from the United States and Europe, while tapping on potential markets in Asia.”
To expand its footprint, it works with Chinese suppliers looking for a better distribution channel, and who value CLARK’s reputation for industry-leading technology and knowledge.
Seeking distributors and dealers who share its “built to last” vision and long-term strategy in Asia, CLARK applies traditional business approaches combined with agile and innovative schemes to develop lasting products and partnerships.
“The CLARK brand is known as a traditional forklift manufacturer with superior knowledge and technology in heavy rider trucks, but we are also advancing our offerings to serve the smaller-sized equipment space such as those used inside warehouses,” says Baik Seung-soo.
“Creating new products is good, but it is not enough nowadays. We want to help customers reduce their operating costs, so we welcome collaborations to develop products that serve the latest demands.”