Apparatus Builders Gain Traction in Market Place

Last week, I wrote about an uptick in fire service business as the economy continues gain strength. There was more evidence of that this week from big apparatus builders in the United States.

E-ONE, KME, Oshkosh, Pierce, and Rosenbauer, arguable some of the biggest apparatus builders in the nation and perhaps the world have announced big orders for new apparatus that’s either been delivered or will be within the next few months to two years.

First up is E-ONE which just won a two-year, multi-truck contract with the Department of National Defense (DND) Canada. That contract has to be worth millions, although E-ONE didn’t disclose the value.

But the company did says it was completing a 24-unit order for 4x4 Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting vehicles. Those aren’t off-the-showroom-floor kind of apparatus with very big, and well deserved, price tags.

E-ONE is also expected to deliver six Cyclone II top-mount enclosed custom pumpers with E-ONE’s cold weather packages. Again, those are not inexpensive apparatus. They’re very custom with some unique features.

The company says the DND has bought 48 units in the last five years. You might say that it’s Canada buying the apparatus, but don’t forget, E-ONE is very much an American company, based in Ocala, Fla., employing hundreds of citizens and buying lots of materials and components right here in the U.S.  We are receiving the benefit of E-ONE’s success. And, E-ONE says the DND wrote into the contract the option of buying more apparatus if they desire.

Let’s hope they order another Baker’s Dozen or so.

Even Oshkosh Airport Products Group, a company headquartered in Appleton, Wis., has been busy filling orders for ARFFs. The company recently sent three Oshkosh Striker 4x4 vehicles to Papua, New Guinea to protect passengers and property with the National Airports Corporation. They’ll be in service at Jacksons International Airport, also known as Port Moresby Airport, the country’s largest and busiest airport.

“Sales of the Striker continue to accelerate in countries throughout Asia and the Pacific region, and that’s a testament to Oshkosh performance, reliability and support after the sale.” said Jeff Resch, Oshkosh Airport Products Group vice president and general manager.

New Guinea’s National Airports Corporation owns and operates 22 national airports located throughout the country so there’s plenty of opportunity for more apparatus to be sold and put in service.

The Oshkosh Corporation is the parent company of Pierce Manufacturing, the maker of a wide variety of apparatus sold domestically and internationally.

Pierce has also been enjoying its share of big orders. In just the past few days, the company announced it received an order for 10 apparatus (five pumpers, three tandem rear axle tanker pumpers, a heavy rescue/hazmat unit and a 100-foot aerial platform) from Polk County (Fla.) Fire Rescue.

It looks like Polk maybe headed toward becoming an all Pierce department as it became a Pierce purchaser about two years ago and has been making significant orders since based on the department’s experience with the first unit, the Polk County fire officials said.

Pierce has been enjoying other multiple unit purchases in other parts of the country as well – a good sign for them as well as apparatus industry as well.

KME keeps punching out apparatus at a healthy pace too, issuing almost daily news releases about another department receiving a new apparatus or another big order being filled by the Nesquehoning, Pa., based builder.

Late last month, KME announced a multiple unit order of Type 3 engines headed to Marion County, Oregon. County officials found the company’s Ridgerunner product so well suited to the mission, it bought more than it originally had planned on purchasing. And it shouldn’t be a surprise if they order more after they receive delivery.

KME also issues news releases about orders headed to Montana and other parts of Oregon as well as several deliveries to communities in its home state as well, offering even more positive news to the forecast.

And Rosenbauer hit this year running. By the close of 2012, it had received its 500 order for the company’s brand new Commander cab and chassis based apparatus.

It was a remarkable milestone considering the ground up, Rosenbauer-designed custom cab and chassis had been introduced the same year. The fire service isn’t typically that eager to embrace first-offs of anything, never mind something as capital as a new cabs and chassis. The fact that it has is a testimony to the company’s growing reputation and the quality of the product and its design.

The Commander cab and chassis is built in Rosenbauer’s Wyoming, Minn., and elevates the company to a status of being a truly sole-source apparatus provider as the company manufacturers its own pumps as well.

It seems evidence shows the apparatus market is gaining traction and we can hope it shifts gears and picks up speed in the third and fourth quarter.

We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

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