With so many jobs outsourced and shipped overseas, it’s a rare feat when a business owner can seize the opportunity in a niche market and create a business that serves the very unique needs of its customers. Kim Schertz is the owner of Forklift Service Company and he has done just that.
Schertz purchased Forklift Service in 2007, but the business was established in 1981 servicing corporate forklift customers. Prior to purchasing the Forklift Service, he had been working for a dealership honing his craft in the same industry. By the time he purchased the business, he had a solid technical foundation in the service and repair of forklifts as well as an idea on how corporate customers had to be treated. “My whole being is mechanically inclined. Started with my grandfather and then my dad… they’re all in the mechanical business,” says Schertz. “Eventually it was going to happen for me, I just needed something to push me over the cliff and I did it myself.”
Forklift Service covers servicing and repairs having to do with material handling. “Our biggest goal is to provide the most comprehensive set of forklift services to our customers as possible. We are a small independent company right now and we still have more rentals than factory stores out here in the Valley and we’re proud to offer that convenience, too,” explains Schertz.
The company has larger corporate clients including juggernaut, Procter and Gamble. “Even back when I was working for a forklift dealer, I was taking care of them,” says Schertz. “I was their go-to guy back then and when I went out on my own and bought my own business, they were happy to come on board with me, so I’ve had their business for 20 years.” As a fun side note, Procter and Gamble manufactures Metamucil and the Valley is the only place in the world the fiber supplement is made. “I’m just a regular kind of guy,” adds Schertz in a tongue-in-cheek remark.
Before he was a business owner, Schertz was a mechanic. His transition into ownership was probably inevitable. “Now, I’ve gotten to the point where I could only do mechanic work for so many years. Eventually, your body will break down. Physically, I’m beat. I’ve tried to build Forklift Service as quickly as I could,” Schertz explains. He bought the business at a peak time and keeping it moving forward while still being profitable has been a challenge. “I was bringing people on and selling customers on what we do. We now have four mechanics and my daily job is basically keeping all of these guys busy.”
“Believe it or not, one employee that I have is the guy who hired me when I moved to the Valley. He was working at the dealership and he was the manager there and he hired me. Now, he works for me,” Schertz says.
“I pay the staff very well and that’s how it works. Bigger corporations and dealerships offer benefits. We don’t do that. I just pay them very well and they can go out and purchase whatever they’d like as they see fit. They’re also not stuck with just one person telling them what they can and cannot have,” explains Schertz. Because the company is small, the corporate culture at Forklift Services is comprised of components from unique friendships that have been forged at the business. “I would trust any of my staff in my own house 24/7 and nothing would every happen. I trust them with everything. I hand-pick the guys I want and I get the guys who are genuine, hard-working and trustworthy. That’s why I pick them.” In the seven years that Schertz has owned his business, he has only had to let two guys go. The staff is tightly knit.
The business decisions and day-to-day operations fall to Schertz and it can be a challenge. But he has a unique approach in all that he does. “I just don’t accept the word, no. The word simply doesn’t exist in my vocabulary. I just do whatever needs to be done,” Schertz says.
In a business challenge as old as time, the owner says that getting clients to pay is often his business’s biggest hurdle. “Chasing money is the biggest problem I have,” he states. “When you’re dealing with a big corporation, you would think they have deep pockets.” Often, it’s the just getting through the paperwork and the process that drags out the payment from large companies.
In the immediate future, Forklift Service is looking to acquire a forklift dealership in order to be the sole distributor of a particular brand of lift. Beyond that, Schertz sees a bright future ahead for his company and plans to keep growing slowly but steadily. “The fact that we’ve done so well in the last seven years without any advertising speaks volumes about Forklift Service,” Schertz finishes.