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60 seconds with Jim Malvaso, Toyota

After his announcement to retire, Modern spends 60 seconds with lift truck supplier Toyota's Jim Malvaso.
By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
February 01, 2012

Jim Malvaso
Title: Outgoing president & CEO, Toyota Material Handling North America
Location: Columbus, Ind.
Experience: 19 years in the lift truck industry
Primary Focus: Advance the quality and service levels of the organization to bring value to customers each and every day

Modern: When you look back at your career, what have been the most significant changes or developments in the lift truck industry?
Malvaso: The first thing that comes to mind is the use of electronics and software and what that’s allowed us to do with our equipment in terms of safety, performance, productivity and operator ergonomics. Those really have changed the expectation of what a lift truck can do. The second is the globalization of our market. First, our customer base reaches well out of North America.
And, not so long ago the major manufacturers were in Europe and North America. You’ve had consolidations that came together to form larger operations, like Toyota and Raymond, and Mitsubishi Caterpillar. But, we also have the Chinese and Koreans playing in the market.

Modern: Last year, there were several announcements regarding lift trucks and automation, including announcements from Raymond. How do you see the lift truck evolving in the coming years?
Malvaso: I am not a strong proponent of automation. I think a highly efficient lift truck with knowledgeable, well-trained operators delivers maximum productivity and maximum flexibility.  That said, the driver is the biggest expense in the operation of a lift truck. If you can reduce that expense by increasing the utilization of the truck or the productivity of the operator, that’s an advantage. For that reason, I think using the brains in the lift truck for data acquisition and management will be at the forefront of the industry for years to come.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know that the lift truck is traveling 80% of the time and only lifting 20% of the time? Tie that into your WMS, and it might tell you something about how your warehouse is slotted. Wouldn’t it be nice to know about battery charging on the fly so you can do something on a predictive basis rather than wait until the battery is dead?
I think you’re going to see more and better uses of the data being collected by lift trucks in the future.

Modern: After so many years working in the industry, what’s next?
Malvaso: I feel strongly that our industry needs to push for fair trade policies and not just free trade policies. If we want to sell a lift truck in China, there is a 9% tariff, the truck has to go through extensive certifications and their currency is undervalued by 25% to 30%. If the Chinese want to sell a lift truck here, there are no certifications.
I want us to be a strong manufacturing country again and our free trade policies are not conducive to that. I have spoken to many Senators about this in recent months and want to continue to push that issue. I’m also concerned that the lift truck has become a commodity. As an industry, we need to promote the value we bring to our customers because of our experience with manufacturing and warehousing customers. We need to continue to establish the pride of who we are and what we do. We are a valuable cog in this industrial machine, and we need to maintain pride in who we are and what we do. 

Lift trucks: Malvaso to retire; Wood named successor at Toyota
Toyota Material Handling North America (TMHNA), a leading lift truck company in North America, today announced the retirement of its president and CEO, James J. Malvaso, effective April 1, 2012.

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.


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