Thread: ALF Closing?

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    Default ALF Closing?

    I have heard rumors this week that American LaFrance will quit taking orders after July 1st of this year. Is there any truth to this?

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    Where did you get this info? I just got back from a final pumper inspection at the new Charleston ALF factory. Itís quite a place. ALF has built a premier fire truck facility with a state of the art assembly line. I took a good look at the Phoenix mid engine pumpers being built and I can honestly say it is impressive. Iíve been told ALF is in the process of starting another shift to expand output. There were at least 24 emergency vehicles in production with just as many new chassis being built on a different line. The place is enormous. In any event, you should visit the facility and see for yourself. I think you were misinformed.

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    I have heard here in Texas, that some departments have been waiting as long as two years for apparatus they have yet to receive from ALF.

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    Just sent this to a friend who works for ALF. His reply was:

    "That sure is not the direction we are headed. Rumor is unfounded."

    Next week we'll hear that E-One or K-Mart Engineering is closing I guess.
    Steve Dragon
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    Originally posted by dragonfyre
    Just sent this to a friend who works for ALF. His reply was:

    "That sure is not the direction we are headed. Rumor is unfounded."

    Next week we'll hear that E-One or K-Mart Engineering is closing I guess.
    That is probably true, but what would you expect him/her to say?

    Maybe the rumor is because some of the Freightliner Dealers and LaFrance dealers are splitting, even though they still have the same parent.

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    I work at the FD that covers the ALF plant here in North Charleston. We are taken delivery of a new rescue, mid mount aerial and an engine between now and June.

    They shut down the ambulance line and moved it all to Florida to make more room to build trucks here in North Charleston. They moved the ambulances to Florida because they have stopped building the Type 1 units. They are finishing filling out some orders but overall they are shutting down production of this type unit.

    They also are having issues from their move to the new central facility.

    These are the primary reasons why they are having difficulty filling orders.

    Now I find that 2 years waiting for orders is a bit far fetched. Sounds like a fish story... the more it is told the bigger it gets!

    It is true that some Freightliner dealers have gotten out of the fire truck business. They are still selling Freightliner just not selling fire trucks. I think this is because of the difference in selling work trucks compared to fire trucks. This may also be more of a corporate decision rather than a dealer decision. If they are making no money for the company... then put someone in there that will.

    I am sure there are some other factors as well, but I think they are doing rather well and will continue to do so. They have a HUGE facility and my understanding is they are going to be adding more this year.

    You will always here rumors about this and rumors about that. As far as I can see they are spitting out trucks left and right. They have moved up on their back log signifigantly. I would think that over this next year we shall see some good things come from ALF.

    I think everyone has had issues with money flow over the past few years thanks to this economy.

    Just wait and watch...
    Last edited by sconfire; 01-25-2004 at 03:55 PM.
    Always remember the CHARLESTON 9

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    North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum
    "You'll never know where you're going until you remember where you came from"
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    Last edited by SCOOBY14B; 01-30-2004 at 05:12 PM.

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    CEO charts new course in Ladson for American LaFrance

    Vehicle plant puts strategy to the test

    BY JOHN P. MCDERMOTT Of The Post and Courier Staff

    Settling in behind the wheel at American LaFrance Corp., Marc F. Gustafson is changing gears as he retools the emergency vehicle maker's Ladson operation.



    BRAD NETTLES/STAFF
    American LaFrance President and Chief Executive Marc F. Gustafson leans Friday on a new rescue truck built at the Ladson plant.

    "We had some real challenges during our ramp-up," said Gustaf-son, the president and chief executive officer.

    Indeed, after moving its corporate headquarters to the Lowcountry and reopening the former Western Star Trucks plant 18 months ago, American LaFrance soon found itself stuck in reverse.

    Market conditions were partly to blame. At the time, cash-strapped states and municipalities were scaling back or postponing purchases of customized fire trucks, ambulances and the like.

    American LaFrance, the No. 3 player in its industry, also ran into some bumps internally. Production glitches at the $65 million flagship Ladson plant led to longer delivery cycles. The company's market share and bottom line suffered as a result.

    In response, American LaFrance's owner, heavy-truck giant Freightliner, brought Gustafson on board last summer to help turn the business around. Since then, the former CEO of Volvo Trucks North America has been rewriting the game plan for the nearly 400,000-square-foot facility.

    Two years ago, Freightliner thought American LaFrance could be more competitive in the slow- to no-growth emergency-vehicle business by consolidating much of its manufacturing under one roof. The idea was to cut as much overhead as possible and go after market share. The company once estimated that the Ladson plant could churn out as many as 4,000 vehicles a year.

    The plan never panned out.

    "The strategy of the company, taking on a number of different products here from nine individual facilities, had gotten too broad," Gustafson said Friday. "We're committed ... to growing the business in Charleston in other ways."

    The local plant is being reorganized around fire pumpers, fire rescue vehicles and waste haulers, all of which are built on the same basic chassis. This year, Gustafson said, the Ladson assembly line will churn out 1,600 of those heavy vehicles, up 25 percent from 2003, and generate about $250 million in revenue. Meanwhile, American LaFrance is transferring all of its ambulance conversion work to Florida from its headquarters. Also, it is shifting chassis production to Ladson from North Carolina.



    No local jobs are at risk. Instead, the company is getting ready to launch a second shift in Ladson over the next few weeks and is boosting its local payroll to about 600 from 550. But the company acknowledged that it will fall short of the ambitious hiring goal it set in 2002: 800 workers in Ladson by the end of 2004.

    "We won't hit that this year, basically because of the company's new strategy," said Gustafson, who stressed that the original employment target remains "very achievable" down the road.

    American LaFrance made its way to Ladson through its parent company's 2000 acquisition of Canada-based competitor Western Star Trucks.

    Within a few months, Freightliner mothballed Western Star's year-old facility, blaming the collapse in the heavy-duty truck market. When American LaFrance relocated to the plant from North Carolina in mid-2002, it was hailed as one of the biggest economic development catches in Charleston County history.

    One of the ways the company hopes to boost production and spread its bets is by making deeper inroads in the waste-hauling business, a market that generates 5,000 to 6,000 new-truck orders a year for the industry. Gustafson thinks his company is poised to grab as many as 1,500 of those deals.

    "That basically doubles our production potential," he said. "It also helps us cover our overhead, making us more competitive on the fire-truck side of the business."

    Gustafson said the refuse-hauling market is a natural fit for American LaFrance to mine deeper given the existing relationships.

    "We already deal with municipalities," he said.

    The company also hopes innovation will set it apart from the rest of the pack. For instance, it recently unveiled a fire pumper with an engine in the middle of the chassis rather than the front. The configuration allows more room in the crew compartment and reduces engine noise and heat levels inside the vehicle.

    "That's another product in our arsenal to attack the industry," said Scott Barnes, American LaFrance's vice president of sales.

    Also, the company is working to improve productivity levels. It takes 290 to 300 days from the day an order is placed to reach the customer. Gustafson said the company is on target to cut its delivery cycle by 40 percent. "We're about 80 percent of the way there," he said.

    Barnes and his sales team are counting on it. "I see 2004 as having a lot activity," he said.
    Always remember the CHARLESTON 9

    Captain Grant Mishoe, Curator of History
    North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum
    "You'll never know where you're going until you remember where you came from"
    www.legacyofheroes.org
    www.firehistory.org
    www.sconfire.com

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    SCOOB,
    Where did you go...
    Always remember the CHARLESTON 9

    Captain Grant Mishoe, Curator of History
    North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum
    "You'll never know where you're going until you remember where you came from"
    www.legacyofheroes.org
    www.firehistory.org
    www.sconfire.com

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    Originally posted by sconfire
    Now I find that 2 years waiting for orders is a bit far fetched. Sounds like a fish story... the more it is told the bigger it gets!
    I can tell you of at least three departments, career and volunteer, here in Virginia that have apparatus that are nearly a YEAR overdue. This includes ALF's biggest Virginia customer.

    None of these rigs are unusual, or required extensive engineering. "We've had issues since our move to SC," seems to be the common theme when people ask about the delays, but you'd like to think that a lot of these issues would be worked out by now.

    Just food for thought...

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    and which depts are they?

    I would of gone with someone else before I'd wait that long.
    Our Quantum was done in about 6-8 months.

    ALF - Absurd late finish

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