March 2013

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Manufacturing Kobelco's Plan of Attack? Getting the Management 'Band' Back Together Then ramping up a strong dealer network this year, which the manufacturer says it is committed to supporting By Joanne Costin While Kobelco dealers were home sipping libations and enjoying their Christmas dinners, big changes were brewing at the manufacturer's headquarters in Tokyo. On Dec. 26, 2012, it was announced the 10-year alliance that paired Kobelco Construction Machinery and CNH Global N.V. would abruptly end by mutual decision. Just days later on Jan. 1, Kobelco took control of its own destiny in the U.S. as well as in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Russia, where they had previously partnered with CNH. The agreement assured Kobelco customers a continuous supply of parts for 10 years, but left dealers looking for answers as their dealership agreements effectively expired overnight. As CED began searching for clues about what Kobelco's next moves would be, dealers didn't have much information in January. With some digging, however, we discovered that the company is determined to grow its dealer network and market share this year, and that in fact Kobelco plans an aggressive comeback for the North American market. No Blue in North America The recruiting process for new dealers began Jan. 1. The company declared "True Blue Kobelco returns to the America's, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Russia," in a letter to prospective dealers on its website (www. kobelco-kenki.co). As it turns out, the distinctive blue-green color found on Kobelco machinery in other parts of the world, will be traded for traditional yellow in the U.S. and Canada. Latin American machines will be blue-green. Ron Hargrave, a former Kobelco executive – who, in recent years had helped Liugong build its North American dealership network – recently accepted the role vice president of Sales and Marketing for Kobelco Construction Machinery 40 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | March 2013 40_Kobelco_Feature_KP.indd 40 2/27/13 3:34 PM

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