With many decades of experience in materials handling equipment, John Knight of Southern Handlers is dedicated to supplying Merlo telehandlers to the construction plant industry in the south of England.
The reputation of Italian design has preceded it around the globe for many decades, and the north of the country is well-established as one of the world’s great industrial heartlands. That’s where one construction plant company, Merlo, and its now 84 year old supremo, has been developing unique solutions for the materials handling sector since 1964.
Take, for instance, the side shift capability on the Merlo telehandler, a function which allows the operator to move the boom laterally without having to reposition the machine. The unique system allows the whole of the upper-structure to side shift on the front axle, which means that, when the boom is fully extended, the amount of lateral movement on a 17metre machine can be up to 1metre, with no impact on stability.
As well as boom side shift, thanks to two hydraulic cylinders connected between the chassis and the front axle, frame levelling allows that upper structure to be tilted. If it’s being run on an incline, for instance, the frame can be adjusted by the operator in order to level it up, ensuring maximum safety, a particularly useful feature if you’re unloading from a lorry on a slight slope.
Not only that, in contrast to the torque convertors still evident on many of its rivals, the Italian manufacturer is a champion of hydrostatic transmission. What that delivers for the end user is infinitely variable speed control, along with increased reliability and efficiency. Permanent 4 wheel drive offers excellent traction in all conditions, and there’s also an inching function for navigating confined spaces.
With a history of six Merlos over 14 years at his Hampshire facility Colin Stainer, the proprietor of Glulam Ltd, is a dedicated follower of Merlo. “The side shift is a real time saver, because you’re not having to move the telehandler unnecessarily in order to grab a load from a lorry or move material around the yard,” he explains. Some of our customers collect from here, but we also have two lorries permanently out on the road,” continues Colin. “If you’re not quite in the centre of a pack of timber rather than having to drive back out to get in the right position you can shift the boom to where you might need it. We use it all the time and it’s a very useful function.”
Glulam Ltd is a highly successful purveyor of a glued laminated timber solution for the construction industry, with 31 individual section sizes supplied to a diverse customer base, including builders’ merchants, contractors and timber frame companies, whilst bespoke solutions can be supplied to individual customer specifications. At present Colin and his staff process over 29 tonnes of timber a week – and has personally been known to rip through 1.2 miles of wood himself in a single day – and that makes a reliable and efficient solution for moving that raw material into position an essential part of the team. His current 86hp, 11.6m Merlo Panoramic 38.12 has been supplied by John Knight of Southern Handlers, a recently formed dealership in central and southern England, and that’s just what these experts in the Italian telehandler specialist promise.
“Without this machine Colin’s business simply wouldn’t be able to function, so what customers like Glulam need is not just a dependable unit but the back-up that goes with it, and that’s what we provide.” With the wealth of experience over many years in selling, with a high level of aftercare, John Knight and Andy Schofield teamed up to form Southern Handlers and we’re appointed Merlo main dealers for the whole of Hampshire and Dorset. John is an enthusiastic champion of the benefits of these Italian machines: “When you consider its lifting capacity, 38.12 is still a compact machine and the hydrostatic static transmission provides infinitely variable speed control a dynamic breaking effect, reducing the wear and tear on the system. It’s very responsive, easy to use and manoeuvrable around site. As well as that, Colin can quickly switch between attachments.”
Southern Handlers began trading in April of 2018 and are presently concentrating on supplying Merlo machines to the market, but are considering adding complementary brands, as John explains. “We wanted to focus on one product and do it properly before we add others to the portfolio. Our ethos is very simple in that we want the customer to be able to rely on us not just in the sale but in the after sales service, because there is a satisfaction in knowing the customer’s happy. We can deliver service schedules and parts, and have a very good relationship both with Merlo UK and the factory in Italy.”
With the demand for housebuilding highly unlikely to abate telehandlers continue to see significant growth, with the UK’s Q2 sales figures 10 per cent up on the previous year. That, combined with two very well-known figures in the sector in John Knight and Andy Schofield, has meant that Southern Handlers has already sold a number of machines.