Toyota Forklifts A Juicy Proposition For Family Business

A third-generation family run fruit-juice business has had Toyota forklifts at its core since its inception 55 years ago.

East Coast Beverages, based in Kulnura on New South Wales' Central Coast, is a grower, manufacturer and purveyor of fruit, freshly made premium fruit juices and natural spring water.

One of the last family owned juice enterprises and employing more than 25 local staff and a large host of family members, East Coast Beverages bought its first Toyota forklift at the business' foundation.

East Coast Beverages Sydney Markets manager, Sam Lentini, said that family has been at the heart of the business' success and continues to be so, today. So too has been its clever production systems, central to which is a fleet of 15 Toyota forklifts.

Mr Lentini explained that the family name originates from the Italian island of Sicily where Lentini is a citrus-growing region that goes back centuries, which is why after emigrating to Australia his grandfather, Salvatore, bought fertile land blessed with natural spring drinking water in Kulnura and planted his first orchards in 1965.

Thirty-six years later, he purchased his first Toyota forklift.

Mr Lentini said after the orchards yielded fruit his great grandfather picked and packed it to sell at Sydney Markets. His three sons joined the business and purchased another property close by to plant more citrus.

"They were still doing Haymarket and then they started doing Sydney Markets at Homebush," said Mr Lentini. "They were selling their citrus at stands, there. They were also supplying juice factories around Sydney with oranges. But then once the government allowed the importation of concentrated fruit juice, there was nowhere to sell their fruit. They had all this fruit, so they decided to start squeezing their own. That's how East Coast Beverages came along."

"As business has grown there's been an increase in our fleet size. We started off with just the one Toyota forklift and now we have 15 in total and use Toyotas exclusively. "It's a bit of a mixture of gas, diesel and electric.

"We used the diesel fork at the Sydney Markets before replacing it and the battery forks are used in the cool rooms because they're confined spaces and you can't have fumes in there. Only gas and battery are allowed to be driven in the factory. We now have the old diesel fork down at our farm shed. It was one of the original batch which was working in the main business until this year when we purchased a new replacement for it - a new Toyota 8FBE18 electric three-wheeler that is a lot easier to use in the cool rooms because they have a much better turning circle.

"The old fork is still going after 19 years, which is quite remarkable and shows how durable Toyotas are. We've sure gotten our value out of it."

East Coast Beverages modified some of its forklifts to suit refrigerated environments. "We had them put lower frames that don't hit the cool room roofs," he said. "We also customised the paint job on the latest three-wheeler in the company's colours.

TMHA area sales manager, Michael Tsougranis, said that Toyota's famed reputation for longevity is one of the key facets of the Toyota Advantage: "We call it QDR which is short for quality, durability and reliability," said Mr Tsougranis. "Toyota has a highly refined production control system that stops production immediately when a problem occurs, thus preventing defects and producing high-quality machines.

"When you buy one of our forklifts you know it's not going to let you down," he said.

Mr Lentini said East Coast Beverages' forklift fleet gets a pretty hard life. "As far as duties go, we're making orders in the cool rooms, loading and unloading trucks, putting fruit away into racking. So, the forklifts get used a lot; the new ones about 18/19 hours-a-day. They get worked hard."

This points even further to the remarkable longevity of the business' fleet. "The Toyota forklifts' durability has been proven through our long experience in the business. It's a key reason we keep buying them. They're reliable. They're also a favoured forklift at the market, in general."

Mr Lentini also personally enjoys operating his forklifts "I still drive them at the market, and I think they're great, a very good forklift. Our operators also like using them. They say that they're one of the best and easiest forklifts to drive."

Another key feature of the Toyota Advantage is its exclusive System of Active Stability (SAS). TMHA's Michael Tsougranis explained that SAS is the first system in the world to monitor and control their forklifts through a combination of advanced sensors linked to an on-board controller, enabling assured load-handling performance and, therefore, safety.

"The SAS computer constantly analyses the potential for a tip-over. If the SAS computer finds tip-over potential, it sends a signal to the Toyota forklift actuators, which then minimise tip-over potential," said Mr Tsougranis.

"The SAS safety measures are based on the fact that the stability of a forklift changes constantly due to shifts in the balance of the load, coupled with the speed and turning-rate of the forklift."

East Coast Beverages' Mr Lentini agreed that the SAS system is another reason the business' forklift fleet is exclusively Toyota. "For safety they're really good. You have to be so careful and Toyota forklifts have the safety features, like stability control, that we want for our employees, and for our family."

He is just as pleased with his support from TMHA as with the forklifts, themselves: "The Toyota reps are really good. We used them for the servicing and any time we need them, they come straight out and get the job done."

An East Coast Beverage employee operating one of its 15 Toyota forklifts, dressed in the business' colours.

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