Like in the U.S., the European operation has been fine-tuned. Although business was healthier in Europe, it still had one or two production issues that needed to be resolved. Orders were up, but on time delivery and product quality were not what they should have been, says Fribourg.
Traditionally strong in its "home" market of Europe, the company will be pleased with a growth rate of 20 percent . However, a similar 20 percent growth this year in Asia, as is forecast, is seen as almost disappointing.
"The market has not been so good up to now, but is increasing. We have development plans in China where we already have a factory [in Shanghai], and as Asian countries recover, they need equipment," adds Maguin.
Fribourg is convinced that the TLD name has now been enhanced throughout its global network. "The reconditioning of the loaders was meant on a global basis," he says. "The core work was performed in the U.S., but we also worked hard in Europe and in Asia."
TLD now has a much rosier future and the company firmly believes it can be all things to all people. "We are a global group that can provide support for a global company and for the smaller ones," says Maguin. "The merging of the ground handlers is a major opportunity for us, and we are looking to see where we can provide partnership and support.
"We are already major suppliers of people like Swissport and GlobeGround. We can deal directly with their headquarters, but we are also everywhere that they are. We offer genuine global support and that’s why they like us. Swissport may buy equipment in Zurich for an Australian operation, but we will also be in Australia. That’s a big plus for a customer."
"If customers want us to be global and discuss at a global level then so be it, but we also provide a very decentralized service with local people," adds Fribourg. "We are close to the end user of the product. The customer sets the rules, and we adapt to them."
For a company keen to highlight and eliminate wastage and extra costs, observers might point to duplication of products at certain factories, but this is not a concern, says Maguin. The 929 loader, for instance, is made at both the Lantis and Erma (in St. Lin, France) factories, but the company is keen to stay close to the customer and remain market responsive rather than go all out on cost cutting. The expertise of Erma in high capacity loaders has certainly helped TLD share engineering efforts in developing the Lantis main deck loader line.
"We believe that specialization of each factory is important, especially on key products for us such as loaders, towbarless tractors, and air starters," comments Maguin. "The level of quality is more important than anything else. We will not try and manufacture, say, towbarless tractors in Shanghai to save on manpower because we would not get the same quality of product. In Shanghai the aim is not necessarily to produce one product line but to be competitive with local products and companies."
Rather than try to fill any perceived gaps in its already extensive product line--the company does not manufacture deicing trucks or refueling units, for example--Fribourg’s primary goal is to make present products better.
"I have more interest in turning our good existing products into excellent products," he says. "We don’t make deicers or refuelers, but they are specific businesses. If there is an opportunity either to work with a manufacturer or even to acquire such a company then that might be of interest, but it is not a priority."
Now under Fribourg’s watchful eye, there seems to be a renewed focus across the board at TLD. It will not dabble where it feels it doesn’t belong. "Other manufacturers are looking to offer maintenance as well, but that’s one thing we have stepped away from. It’s not our forte," says Scott Gordon. "We are manufacturers, and we do it well."
This is the kind of non-core activity that was so unpopular with the last Chair. We have decided not to enter such a business, confirms Maguin. "I really believe that the customer needs very good service from us when they have a problem. Our goal is not to make additional revenue out of such service."
Since 1972, Trilectron/Air-A-Plane has manufactured a broad line of aircraft ground support equipment for corporate business jets and turboprops to regional and commercial airlines. Trielectron...