Rolling up our sleeves for customer success: Kalmar’s new regional strategy and team introduced to European terminal tractor operators
It’s not every day you get to see how your equipment is made. For a first-hand demonstration of Kalmar’s drive to meet customer demands, we invited European terminal tractor operators to visit our factory in Stargard, Poland. How did it go? To find out, we sat down with Tommi Haavisto, our Terminal Tractors Sales Development Lead in Europe. Here’s what he had to say about the November 15 event, Kalmar’s new team and how we aim to constantly improve our product offering.
What was the purpose of the customer event in Stargard?
At Kalmar, we’ve developed a new regional strategy and formed a dedicated team that looks after the terminal tractor business in Europe. With the majority of our terminal tractor sales coming from the US, Europe has previously been a somewhat lower priority region. Since January 2023, we now have a new European team that covers every function from sales and marketing to product support, order management and production. The idea behind the event was to get close to our customers and show action.
We have already clarified our product strategy and implemented some improvements in our medium terminal tractor T2i.
What were the main messages that Kalmar wanted to share with customers?
Historically, Kalmar has held the assumption that the terminal tractor we sell in the US is also the right choice everywhere else. Market shares have proved that this is not true for Europe.
So first of all, we wanted to introduce our new strategy and our team that is tasked with building a terminal tractor offering to suit European customers.
Second, we wanted to present the accomplishments of the team so far. We have already clarified our product strategy and implemented some improvements in our medium terminal tractor T2i. We had a demo unit at the event: everyone had the chance to test drive it and see the concrete changes for themselves.
And third, we wanted to highlight that we want input from customers to make sure we are going in the right direction. The objective of our team is to be close to the customers and to understand what our European product offering should be.
Was the event a success?
It went really well. On short notice, we managed to get a good number of participants. Around 15 customer representatives were present from different countries, including Ukraine, Lithuania, Germany and Poland.
Customers really enjoyed the opportunity to visit our factory and see how Kalmar operates, and they appreciated the chance to test our T2i demo unit as well as our Heavy Terminal Tractor.
What improvements have been made to the T2i terminal tractor for the European market?
We have previously received feedback that the T2i has some issues with noise and vibration. We addressed these by improving the suspension, the structure of the frame and the soundproofing of the cabin. We have also received feedback about braking, which the customers have considered a bit too aggressive, so we made a new solution that gives the braking a better, smoother feel. This is of course really important when you’re driving with tons of cargo behind your back.
Can you share some highlights from the event?
One highlight was when a customer hopped out of our terminal tractor and said “the braking is perfect!”. Another was when two customers, one from Lithuania and one from Germany, were discussing their daily business and suddenly realised they were sending cargo to each other. One of them was a long-time Kalmar user who was happy to recommend us to his colleague, who was using other brands as well. This shows the value of bringing our customers together.
One customer working in food industry logistics said it’s amazing how our facilities are as clean as theirs.
What other feedback did you receive from the customers?
Everyone was very happy with the day. They were very impressed with our factory, how clean and well organised it is. One customer working in food industry logistics said it’s amazing how our facilities are as clean as theirs.
We received valuable feedback for developing our Heavy Terminal Tractor, how the cabin and some applications should be improved. Feedback like this is very useful, because then we know how to prioritise our resources going forward.
The customers also showed great interest towards electric terminal tractors. The third generation is being developed now in the USA, and when it’s finished, we can start developing a version suited for Europe.
Wherever you are, Kalmar maintenance works well, and spare parts are readily available. And our lead times are extremely competitive compared to other European providers.
Finally, how do you see Kalmar’s competitiveness as a Terminal Tractor provider in Europe?
Kalmar is the biggest terminal tractor manufacturer, the world leader, even though most of our volume is in the US. In Europe, we can compete with our wide service network and a very professional dealer network: our products always have high-quality support available locally. Wherever you are, Kalmar maintenance works well, and spare parts are readily available. And our lead times are extremely competitive compared to other European providers. We have a good reputation and a strong brand in Europe.
On top of that, we have very comprehensive knowledge of different segments. Most of our business has been in ports and terminals, but we also have industrial and distribution customers, and we can provide the right products and customizable applications for their operations.
One strength of Kalmar is the additional value we bring with our other mobile equipment, including forklifts and reachstackers. We are able to deliver a complete solution. This, combined with world-class support services, makes for a pretty strong offering.