Alo AB, a global maker of loaders for the ag equipment market, plans to eventually use the manufacturing plant it acquired from Bush Hog to build its new line of compact loaders for the North American market.
Alo TN, a division of Alo AB, based in Umea, Sweden, will take over the manufacturing of loaders at the 360,000 square-foot Telford, Tenn. plant this summer after obtaining it from Bush Hog.
Alo will supply loaders to Bush Hog, with Bush Hog's brand name attached.
CC Industries of Chicago, a corporation owned by Henry Crown & Co., also of Chicago, is still attempting to sell the rest of Bush Hog's product lines. And Alo is still planning its future moves in North America.
Discussions between the CC Industries and Alo had been taking place for well over a year, says Dana Hoover, president of Alo North America and Alo USA.
"We're strictly, only involved in taking over the rights to build loaders there, with an agreement to sell them back to Bush Hog," Hoover says.
"When we start up, what will come off the production line will be Bush Hog loaders. From there, we've got plans and strategies on where we want to go."
Alo believes the market for smaller and lower-cost loaders will grow significantly over the coming years and North America is expected to grow fastest.
Alo unveiled its new concept loader, the QCC, at the SIMA show in Paris last February. Aimed at the North American market, the loader is the first in a new range of curved boom loaders designed for tractors between 15-100 horsepower.
The new line, expected to reach the market in 2010, will likely have 8 models and includes
"new features designed to improve productivity in this sector of the market," says Olle Pehrsson, managing director and CEO of Alo, in a recent statement.
"The design and performance of the QCC series is well suited to the semi-professional segment, the company's target market. There are many advantages, both financially and environmentally, to produce products close to where the customers are located. We are very satisfied that we can move ahead with our strategy to become a full-line supplier of front loaders."
Prior to its U.S. acquisition, Alo had 5 factories in 3 countries and sales companies in 8 countries, including the U.S. and Canada. Alo sold 34,000 front loaders and 55,000 implements in 2008. About one-third of Alo's loaders came to North America.
Alo's front loaders are currently marketed under the Quicke, Trima and Veto brands. Veto was acquired in 1999, and Trima — a former competitor of Alo's — in 2000. Quicke is currently the only Alo brand marketed in the region.
Hoover says the company hasn't decided if its North American focus will be supplying loaders to OEMs or extending Alo's independent brands in the region. The company is also evaluating what other products are being built at other Alo plants, or by contracted third parties, that could be manufactured at the U.S. plant and marketed in North America.
"What OEM customers you develop determines what is left to do private branding with," Hoover says. "If we get a lot of OEM customers, it may have a negative effect on private brands. It's too early for us to determine where we will focus the first part of our business, whether it's OEM or private brand."
Based in Selma, Ala., Bush Hog designs, manufactures, distributes and services rotary cutters, finishing mowers, zero turn mowers, front-end loaders, backhoes, utility vehicles, landscape equipment and a wide variety of other implements.
Production was shut down early this year at the Tennessee plant while Bush Hog searched for a new buyer. The fate of the plant and its 141 employees was in doubt until the deal with Alo was announced June 11.
As for Bush Hog's Alabama operations, Bush Hog President Duane Prentice told the Times-Journal of Selma, Ala., that the company had "a very successful turning around of our business during the last four months."
The company also has a plant in Great Bend, Kan. Prentice told the newspaper that several "very interested" parties want to buy the company.