The three regional teams were in place – TLD Europe (with 61percent of TLD’s total sales), TLD America (23 percent), and TLD Asia (16 percent). Slowly but surely, each issue, and region, was dealt with in turn, with the end goal always the same--to restore the good name and credibility of TLD.
Big changes in the U.S. were crucial, not least at Lantis. Salinas may have been renowned worldwide as John Steinbeck country, but was less well known for the quality of its loaders.
"From the beginning, the first issue was Lantis," recalls Fribourg. "We were losing a lot of money, so we addressed the technical issues and reorganized the production. We worked hard to rebuild the reputation and spent $1million on a reconditioning program to do what was necessary."
"There was a year long campaign where we actively went back to our customers and upgraded our loaders to the standard they should have been before," adds Scott Gordon, Executive VP Sales and Service, TLD America.
The campaign has been a great success, believes Antoine Maguin. "The Lantis loader is a very good one, but we had a minor problem which destroyed the credibility of the product. But having fixed the problem we very quickly came back on to the market with a very successful product."
Loaders now represent the best selling product in TLD’s portfolio (14.5 percent). This is followed by air conditioning units (14 percent), air starter units (11 percent), conventional tow tractors (10.5 percent) and towbarless tractors (10 percent).
The improvement is clear. Sales in 1999 improved under Fribourg and topped out at $26 million. This year, TLD America expects to hit $45 million. Maguin puts this US turnaround down simply to the return to a customer-oriented operation. "With the support we can provide to the customer we are selling more and more loaders," he says.
The cash tills are ringing again and not just along Cannery Row. In October this year, TLD celebrated a batch of orders across its various operations. After intensive testing of towbarless tractor technology at Madrid Barajas Airport, Iberia placed a first order for four Tracma TPX200S towbarless tractors. Already a TLD customer for ACE air conditioning units, Erma CHTP ambulifts, and Tracma TMX400 conventional tractors, Iberia is the 24th customer worldwide to turn to Tracma’s towbarless tractor technology.
Meanwhile, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has chosen Erma (with a 22-unit order) to develop and produce its pallet/container transporters TF10 FTC type with front, rear and side loading. TLD says that the new transporter is an improvement on Erma’s TF line which has more than 250 units in operation. The new design operates with the Flat Top Chain (FTC) and Multi Direction Wheels (MDW) transfer system which has already proven its performance on TLD’s Lantis container/pallet loaders.
Elsewhere, Brazil’s fastest growing airline, TAM, has turned to TLD to provide 22 ACE-302-CUP air conditioning units for its fleet of Fokker 100, Airbus A-319 and A-320 aircraft. To date, 11 units have been delivered with a further 11 being delivered in time to face up to the fierce Brazilian summer.
"Our manufacturers have a clear product strategy just like our sales and service organizations," says Scott Gordon. "Our biggest sales tool is our after sales support and whether you are Delta, American, United, or a small ground handler, we supply the same kind of service and are ready to respond and be flexible.
Almost everything that Fribourg has initiated since his arrival has been designed to cut costs and make the company more cost effective. Out have gone the global bosses of purchasing, sales and support, and in have come three, regionally empowered operations that can be nimble footed when doing business.
The swanky headquarters in the 8th arrondissement of Paris has been replaced with a new office close to Orly Airport, and not far from the old AET sales operation in Rungis. TLD Europe staff has been almost halved, as has the cost of the headquarters.
Although with genuinely global reach, TLD is not a big group, points out Fribourg. "The goal is to have one boss for each regional operation and to meet and communicate ideas regularly."
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