PHL are located in Basingstoke and have been an EP dealer since 2016. Director of PHL Dilyan Alexiev is passionate about crafting a greener future for the material handling market and has built PHL, along side business partner Richard Hawkins, by using their mechanical expertise and industry experience to refurbish second hand material handling equipment and give it a new life in the industry. Since the introduction of the partnership between EP and PHL 4 years ago, the team have gone from strength to strength and are now offering the emissions free, lithium-ion range from EP Equipment to their customers looking to purchase new equipment.
Head of UK Sales Simon Manasseh said ‘ PHL are passionate about lithium ion batteries and new energy technology and are promoting this with EP Lithium Ion trucks. They have invested in machines, parts and technical training to fully support EP Equipment and have positioned themselves as a valuable EP partner that is contributing to the ‘green’ market transformation that the UK material handling industry is experiencing.’
Dilyan Alexiev gave us some of his time to discuss how PHL has evolved its refurbishment based business model to offer new and eco-friendly machines from EP Equipment. For good measure, Dilyan gave this interview sat on a EP Forklift.
Tell me about the history of PHL, what is your story so far?
PHL has a long history of selling used equipment. My partner Richard Hawkins has over 30 years of experience in the business, and we joined together in 2005 to create what is now PHL and put the business on another level. PHL are the largest exporters of used equipment in the UK and one of the top players in Europe. We average around 1000 trucks a year and have a global reach as we regularly deliver equipment to cover all the continents… Apart from Antarctica!
More recently, in the UK, we have increased trade with other dealers but our main business at PHL has always been exporting and it continues to dominate around 60-70% of our core business.
How did your partnership with EP come about? Why did you choose us and how have we grown together so far?
We came across EP trucks through our used equipment sales as we saw a few used EP trucks passing through our doors. The trucks were impressive 5 years ago but our relationship with EP has been driven by our natural interest in electrification of material handling equipment. We are great believers of a future without fossil fuels and at PHL we are excited by the transformation of the market. Forklift trucks have a history of being electric now but the lithium-ion powered machines available at EP are what really drew us in.
Our partnership with EP was a result of it fitting everything we were looking for. We wanted a partner that was strong in new and innovative battery technologies and EP has all the right solutions. For this reason, we focus only on the EP lithium-ion range and work on only expanding this market, lithium-ion solutions. EP’s quality and expertise in this area was impressive and the support throughout the early stages of our partnership really sealed the deal for us at PHL. This support continues in areas such as service and parts and the EP team are always available to help. This is why we continue to work with EP whereas with other Asian brands we have had experience within the past, the availability of support was just not near the level of EP Equipment. It has always been easy to work with and trust EP as their transparency and communication reassures us that we have chosen the right partner.
Can you tell me about the UK material handling market?
I believe that IC trucks will become a thing of the past very soon. Each year we see a decline in the popularity of these machines. The UK market is a very open market, and it embraces new and efficient technology very well, but the market has always been quality driven, and this is why EP works. In the past there have been lots of attempts by businesses to offer similar technology’s but with inferior quality and this can really jeopardise a reputation. First impressions count in this industry and by holding out and researching our potential partners well we have confidently made the right choice for PHL by choosing EP.
For success in the UK market, you need confidence in the brands you offer, not just in the quality of the product but in the availability of support, aftersales, training and service. Without these building blocks success in the UK market is hard to find and even harder to maintain.
So where do you think this leaves the used equipment side of your business?
At PHL we can see that there is a natural progression for our business with EP. Although the core of our business is with used equipment that is largely IC engine focused, the market is clearly progressing towards cleaner energy methods. By refurbishing used equipment for resale, we are contributing towards a greener market and by offering high quality lithium-ion alternatives for those that want to purchase a new truck, we are reducing the number of new IC trucks that are being introduced to the market each year.
It is fantastic for a truck to start a second life in the market if there is the opportunity to do so. By selling good quality second-hand equipment we can cater to those who simply do not require a new truck at this moment in time. But, for those who do, EP is the only solution we offer, and it is also the most environmentally friendly solution available to the customer.
Another great aspect of the partnership between PHL and EP is that when we sell and EP truck, we are always more than happy to buy back the customers used equipment. Despite our philosophy to go green it would be silly to ignore that in other global markets there is still a demand for IC trucks that our refurbished equipment can be used for. Some markets are not developing as quickly and at PHL we are able to cater to all our customer’s needs.
What do you like the most about working with EP?
The best advantage of working with EP over other Asian brands and even other European brands is the availability of their team. You can always get in contact with someone whether that be sales, service or even the factory in China. The openness that EP has to its distributors and dealers makes it very easy to work with them. The speed of the parts and warranty solutions means that any issues that do arise are solved efficiently meaning that not only am I happy, but my customers are happy too. Problems will inevitably arise when dealing with machines, but it is how they are solved that counts and I doubt that any brand can do this as well as EP.
Why do you think your customers are choosing EP?
People are realising now that electric is the way forward. Often this is argued against by dealers that are ‘petrol heads’ or who are reluctant to have to change and transform their business… We are asking these people to think again. We no longer have to wait for the change to happen, the change has already begun, and everyone is learning more every day about the benefits of going electric, driving an electric car, operating electric machines, the cost is lower, and the impact is far more sustainable for a business and for the environment. Businesses should not think about the first payment, they should think long term about the benefits, and this makes choosing EP a no brainer. At PHL our customers are choosing to buy EP Equipment from us because they have understood this message and they understand that the change is inevitable. However, for those who are reserved and holding back from making this decision, the team at PHL do our very best to use our knowledge on this topic to discuss with those dealers and customers who are reluctant to change. This movement only has an impact if we move as a joint force to transform the market. This attitude has created sales of EP trucks for PHL as by challenging the perceptions of the customer I have been able to convince people to try the machines and after testing it for themselves they are always wanting to hold onto their truck.
With your experience in both refurbished machines and new EP trucks, how do you identify what type of equipment a customer needs?
A challenge that many dealers face in this market is that some customers will always go for the brand and regardless of what we say, the brand name they want will always prevail. You see this all the time with how people choose to buy their cars and you will always find people who simply do not want to change to the new and innovative products that are launched onto the market. My partner Richard uses the example with how people in the UK call a vacuum cleaner a Hoover because they can’t let go of the brand name. This reluctance to change will always affect the success of a new brand in the market no matter how innovative it is and this is often when we will choose to supply a refurbished truck. We always try to convince our customers to choose a new EP truck. Even though used equipment has its benefits and can often be extremely profitable, I would always rather see a dealer transform his business with lithium-ion power. We could initially make more profit on a used equipment sale but in the long run, the maintenance costs for the upkeep of the truck from our engineers would mean that it is in fact in the long run new is always better.
Have you got anything exciting coming up?
Since working with EP we have had great success. Our stock of EP Equipment is always growing, and we continue to focus on the counterbalance forklift trucks as this is where a large amount of our customer base is and where we are strongest at PHL. Every day it becomes less of a challenge to sell EP Equipment, the popularity of the brand grows every day, and this is hugely supported by the availability of stock for demonstration held here at PHL.
The news for us at PHL is we are getting a new building to expand our business further and we are now in final negotiations with the builders. This building will be EP focused with a showroom for stock, the more we work with EP the more we dedicate to our partnership. This new office space will allow us to grow our team, grow our customers and grow more with EP Equipment.
If you want to join the lithium-ion revolution and be part of our EP Global dealer network just like PHL contact our team today: firstname.lastname@example.org
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