Montabert, Komatsu distribution center open for business

By |  February 26, 2020
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Montabert breakers work well with Komatsu equipment, says David Young, global manager CEP, consignment and forecasting at Komatsu. Photo courtesy of Montabert

When opportunity comes knocking, it’s best to answer the door.

Still, you can’t have a door without a building behind it, and that’s exactly what Montabert now has in Nashville, Illinois, with its new Midwest distribution center.

The 50,000-sq.-ft. center houses both Montabert products and the company’s customer care and inventory planning teams. According to Montabert, the central U.S. location should help Montabert begin its westward expansion and allow for better access to a number of major markets.

“This location here [in Illinois] is perfect for us for the East Coast, the Midwest and South,” says Stephane Giroudon, director of sales for the Americas at Montabert.  “We can pretty much deliver anywhere next day or [do] same-day shipping.”

Komatsu, which now owns Montabert, was influential in the opening of the new distribution center.

“The opportunity came for this building – it was attached to our KMC (Komatsu Mining Corp.) site here,” says David Young, global manager of CEP, consignment and forecasting at Komatsu. “All of a sudden, the synergy of having these two places together came about, and it made sense to do that.

“Between the two facilities now, we have 122,000 sq. ft., which is even larger than our global distribution center in Pennsylvania,” Young adds. “It just made sense to take this place.”

Starting from scratch

The process of officially opening the distribution center, however, took considerable communication, teamwork and planning between Montabert and Komatsu. Adding to the challenge: the two companies worked on a condensed launch timetable, as the date the previous lessees planned to leave and Montabert’s “go live” date were virtually the same.

“The place was packed when we first walked in here,” Young says. “The floors were covered in paint. It was just a mess. There was no office in here, so we actually took two half offices, put them together and custom-built an office space to accommodate our needs. It worked out really well.”

Once Montabert got going last spring, it took some time for the distribution center to find its footing and develop a rhythm.

“It took about two months to get everything tidied up with all the loose ends,” Young says. “We were answering the phone on April 1. We had trucks arriving every day that first week, but it probably took two months before things kind of fleshed out to where it was getting into a real orderly manner. Our sales and service guys were in here day after day going through parts, sorting them out, getting part numbers and helping identify parts that were missing. By June, everything was as smooth as it is now.”

Serving the customer

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Stephane Giroudon, director of sales for the Americas at Montabert, welcomes a group to the company’s distribution center in Nashville, Illinois. Photo by Zach Mentz

A key function of the distribution center is Montabert’s customer relationship management system, which links a new online dealer portal to the company’s France factory and the distribution center.

“We’re integrated with the factory in France system-wise, so we have a very nice online ordering site where dealers can go in and have visibility of inventory here, as well as lead time out of the factory in France,” Giroudon says. “Parts guys and [dealers] are all very accustomed to online ordering, and our website is very much like an Amazon type; it’s very user-friendly.”

The end result is exactly what Montabert and Komatsu desired – a well-organized, efficient distribution center that improves accessibility and service to customers across the U.S.

“The key for us was to maintain the level of service to customers, and we were able to transition everything to do it,” Giroudon says. “So it’s definitely a success from that standpoint.”

As every aggregate producer knows, uptime is conducive to business success. Montabert, as an equipment manufacturer, is well-aware of the urgency to keep equipment running and, in turn, customers happy.

According to Giroudon, 80 percent of the company’s U.S. business is dedicated to the East Coast and Midwest. The new distribution center, with improved access to those regions, helps Montabert keep its customers up and running.

“That’s the number one requirement of product support,” Giroudon says. “You have to be able to deliver really quickly.”

Working together

According to Young, the partnership between Montabert and Komatsu has proven to be a success.

“It helps Montabert because of the global presence of Komatsu,” Young says. “From Komatsu’s side, it’s just expanding the Komatsu horizon. Montabert breakers work with Komatsu equipment very well. It just broadens them to a whole different line of business. [Montabert] is in construction and service mining, and then with [Komatsu] in underground mining, this is a different part of construction and demolition that they’ve never been in in the past. So it really is a nice partnership.”

Young never expected the Illinois facility to be “perfect,” as experience taught him perfection is often an unattainable and, perhaps, unrealistic goal.

“One thing I always reminded Stephane of is it’s not going be perfect, but it’s going to be good,’” Young says. “It’s going to be fine and something you’ll be proud of.”

Room for growth

Montabert and Komatsu are excited for the future of their partnership, which will include growth in the portable plant market.

“Long term, we’re going to be looking at more products for that kind of market because these guys really like to use other demolition attachments,” Giroudon says. “We’re going to look at adding new product lines to better attract that market segment of demolition and recycling. Our goal was, first, to get set up. We have space and room for growth here. Now we have the system, the organization and the location to support that growth.”

In addition to the Illinois distribution center, Montabert currently has a remanufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to rebuild breakers for customers. The company will also open a remanufacturing facility in Elko, Nevada, in 2020 to better serve the West.

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