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VOL. 125 | NO. 217 | Monday, November 8, 2010

50-Year Niche

Delta Materials Handling celebrates half century

By Sarah Baker

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Instructor Greg Hutton of Delta Materials Handling Inc. administers the hands-on practical training phase of the company’s forklift safety certification program to Torrance Harris, 19. Delta Materials is celebrating 50 years in business.

Photos: Lance Murphey

Despite the sluggish economy, one Memphis-based, family-owned business continues to thrive.

While many competitors have either sold or liquidated their businesses, Delta Materials Handling Inc. is celebrating 50 years in existence.

For the past half century, the privately held company has grown as a full-service dealer for forklifts, lift trucks, yard ramps, tow motors and other new and used pneumatic materials handling equipment.

The company is the authorized dealer for Clark, Linde, Mitsubishi, Landoll/Bendi and Landoll/Drexel. Delta Materials Handling also offers engineered storage system design services for warehouses, including shelving and conveyor systems.

Delta Materials Handling, at 4676 Clark Road, currently employs 65, and anticipates 2010’s annual revenue to reach approximately $20 million. But president and CEO Greg Costa said the recession has caused the business to be off as much as 30 percent.

“Our business is selling forklifts to logistic companies and warehouses, so with the consumer spending being down, that affects our business because if people aren’t buying things, they aren’t shipping things,” Costa said. “To have made it through the last three years has been more challenging than making it through the previous 47.”

But as both an additional revenue stream and also to better serve its clients, Delta Materials Handling has implemented Forklift Operator Safety Certification programs for individuals seeking employment and companies working to meet legal guidelines.

The Mid-South has approximately 30,000 forklift operators, Costa said, and only an estimated 25 to 30 percent of those operators have met the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) certification standards.

Delta Materials Handing helps certify the operator through the first two stages of the OSHA requirement, with formal classroom education and hands-on training, where the forklift operator completes an obstacle course in a simulated warehouse environment. And the company is one of the only companies of its kind in town, with a full-time driver trainer instructor on staff.

“This is one area that seems to take a backseat with many customers and we want to correct that with the best training in the area,” said Jim Colloredo, senior vice president.

And that customer service is crucial for repeat business.

Memphis Compress Co., a division of Louis Dreyfus Corp., has a total of 18 cotton bale warehouses nationwide, and it primarily uses Delta Materials Handling in its nine Memphis proper locations.

John Raffety, vice president and general manager of Memphis Compress, said the company’s customer service is what keeps his company coming back for more.

“The success of the company can be attributed to the fact that it’s a family-owned and run business,” Raffety said. “They listen to and address their customers’ needs – they are very responsive.”

As for the next 50 years, Costa hopes his family business will continue to grow and expand what it has to offer the Mid-South, especially because of Delta Materials Handling’s proximity to the Mississippi Delta and the area’s rich diversity of industry.

“We have the unique ability of offering equipment to handle, whether it is a product that’s received by trail, rail or air freight,” Costa said. “We hope that we’re coming out of this economic recession and business and employment levels will get back to normal at least for the next decade.”

PROPERTY SALES 28 290 16,197
MORTGAGES 33 165 10,087
BUILDING PERMITS 184 608 38,544
BANKRUPTCIES 33 125 7,597