Kuna Foodservice, a distributor based in St. Louis, has been providing quality service to clients, such as restaurants and country clubs, in the Midwest area for over 90 years. Kuna prides itself on providing the right shipment of quality products on-time, the first time. To promote this mission, the company offers a speed-based bonus program as incentive to encourage its employees to work quickly and efficiently.
In 2009, this dedication and hard work paid off as the company was voted TGI Friday’s distributor of the year.
Kuna’s mounting success recently led to a growth in product volume and the need for more space, causing the company to expand to a 98,000-square-foot distribution center that includes a refrigerated receiving dock, freezer and storage area for paper and canned goods.
In order to continue to grow and deliver quality products in the new larger facility, the company decided to replace its existing material handling equipment fleet. Whether moving product in a narrow aisle freezer or getting product ready to ship out of the distribution center, Kuna needed lift trucks designed to meet the productivity and throughput needs of a high-velocity warehouse.
Seeking A Partner
As a company founded on superior customer service, Kuna sought a material handling partner with a similar focus. A sales representative from a local lift truck dealership first introduced them to Jungheinric, a leading brand for material handling equipment, specializing in warehousing and narrow aisle lift trucks. Jungheinrich provides technological solutions, optimized to satisfy diverse environments such as Kuna’s.
Kuna’s management and warehouse staff were initially hesitant to try the German brand. Jungheinrich products were new to the company, and the product lineup offered a sit-down reach truck as opposed to the stand-up style of reach truck the operators had been using for the last 15 years.
Despite the company’s initial skepticism, Kuna agreed to a three-week trial of the ETV 214, part of Jungheinrich’s moving mast reach truck series. Unlike most pantograph reach trucks offered in North America, the Jungheinrich moving mast reach trucks insert and remove loads by moving their masts rather than extending or retracting their forks via a pantograph mechanism.
The absence of the pantograph allows operators to more easily see through the mast and fork carriage, and the truck’s sit-down style provides greater operator comfort, especially in applications where the operator is required to stay on the truck for longer periods of time.
After only three weeks, Kuna and its operators noticed an almost immediate difference in productivity, efficiency and operator comfort. Equipped with 3-phase AC technology, the ETV 214 had significantly faster traveling speeds than Kuna’s previous material handling equipment and the moving mast allowed operators to quickly and efficiently move product through their facility.
Rooted in a bonus-based culture, employees learned the Jungheinrich lift truck would help them qualify for bonuses more quickly, and they soon began competing for privileges to operate the new truck.
During the trial phase, Kuna also had the opportunity to experience firsthand the customer support provided by the local Jungheinrich dealer.
“Though the workers loved the speed and comfort of the Jungheinrich product, they had difficulty adjusting to how the truck naturally turned the opposite direction of the other trucks we owned.
“Within a matter of minutes, the service representative from the local Jungheinrich dealer was able to program the lift truck to turn the other direction,” says John Schuler, senior vice president and general manager of Kuna Foodservice. “It was at that moment that I was sold on the customer service and our workers were sold on the product.”