11 February 2000

Boom & crash – now Matbro gears up again

New owners, new machines,

new future. Its all change at

Matbros base at Tetbury.

Andy Collings went along to

see whats going on

IF there was ever a company which has seen success and disruption in wild extremes, it must be Matbro. A manufacturer which saw its telehandler products gain market share on an enviable scale: a manufacturer which crashed with unbelievable financial debts.

But, like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, there could now be a new future to look forward to.

Matbros parent company Powerscreen was acquired by US equipment manufacturer Terex Lifting last August to create Terex Lifting UK. Heading the new company is managing director Bob Halls.

Core business for Terex is in site lifting equipment such as cranes, boom and scissor lifts but adopting the Tetbury plant has given the company new opportunities to strengthen its loader operations – both in the agricultural and construction industries.

"Terex already owns a telehandler company – Italmacchine – and we are marketing three agricultural machines in the UK – the Agrilift 236, 357 and 359." explains Mr Halls. "We also plan to use the Matbro plant to develop new machines in the future."

One of the obstacles in the way however, is the John Deere agreement. When Deere bought the rights to Matbro telehandler designs the construction of a telehandler by Powerscreen – and now Terex Lifting – was barred until Apr 2001.

"But this has not prevented us from building a rigid boom machine," he says. "And that is what we have done."

Based on the Matbro TR250-110, the TM200R and the larger TM250R articulated, rigid boom loaders are due to make their appearance in April. For the enthusiast T stands for Terex and M for Matbro.

The 250 is already in prototype format and is rated at 2.5t to a 4.3m lift height. In most capacities, the machine is identical to what went before.

Fifty of each

"We plan to make about 50 of each model," says Mr Hall who concedes he would have preferred to have been able to produce a telescopic version. "At the present we have to do what we can and make plans to put the plant on its feet again."

Mr Halls inherited a warehouse crammed with an abundance of loader parts – some of which he believes will never be used.

"I am still amazed at the amount of stock Matbro carried," he says. "It just didnt make any financial sense. My plans are to reduce it by as much as we can – through the construction of the 200 and 250 models, and as spares for existing machines. Any tooling machinery will be sold along with redundant stock. This will help fund the operation – even if Powerscreen did strip the company of many of its most valuable assets."

But he is adamant that the spares service will continue as before with same or next day deliveries taking a high priority. "We must continue our commitment to dealers and current users of Matbro machinery," he says.

Cutting costs is also considered a priority if new machines are to be competitively priced.

"For the future, all components will be manufactured and part assembled by outside suppliers to our specification," he says. "Terex Lifting is not a fabricating company – it just assembles and that is the way to control costs."

So, where does Mr Halls expect his company to be in two years time?

"I would hope by that time to have regained a useful market percentage with a new range of telehandlers," he says. "We should be making between 500 and 600 units a year. There are customers who still believe in Matbro and we want to give them the machines they want."

Mr Hall also intends to market the grey and white liveried machines through Matbros dealer network.

Terex Liftings prototype TM25OR articulated, rigid boom loader. Note the white and grey livery. Inset: Company managing director Bob Halls:"We plan to develop telescopic loaders in the future."