CM European venture a 'logical step'

20 December 2006

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Timothy Tevens, president and CEO of Columbus McKinnon Corporation, has called the company's recent formation of Columbus McKinnon Europe, which expands its existing Yale Europe business to include the sale of Columbus McKinnon products into European markets, a "logical step".

Hoist: How did the formation of CM Europe come about?

Tevens: As you may know, we have had excellent coverage in Europe with our Yale business, headed by Wolfgang Wegener. We wanted to take advantage of the wonderful Yale relationships developed over the years with distributors and end users. CM has also sold into this market for many years, generally through different distributors. At this time, we believe an integrated approach to the entire market, both western and eastern Europe makes sense. We also wanted complete focus and a coordinated approach to the market. The formation of Columbus McKinnon Europe, headed by Wolfgang, selling all of the products and brands our company offers, is a logical step to grow this business at a faster rate.

Hoist: What is the significance of this?

Tevens: Well, first of all, our sales and marketing of the products will be more aligned. Distributors, who would like to buy the breadth of our entire product line, will now have a chance to do so in a coordinated way. We will also integrate our European business to North America so that we can be more efficient in design and delivery of products to the European market. Also, an experienced European business leader and his team will lead this effort, dramatically increasing our likelihood of success.

Hoist: Why is it important to be present in Europe at this stage?

Tevens: To us, it has always been important to be present in Europe. This step is just a continuation of that thinking.

Hoist: Will there be other moves of this kind worldwide?

Tevens: Any global company needs to constantly review their businesses and how they operate and adjust them to be more responsive to the markets. So, yes, it is probable that more organisation changes will be forthcoming.

Hoist: Do you have plans for further acquisitions?

Tevens: We have been successful in reducing our debt. We are now at $152million of net debt or 40% of total capitalisation. We are well on our way towards achieving our goal of 30% debt to total capitalisation. Our company has always been acquisitive and we are constantly looking for businesses that will help us better position ourselves in the worldwide economy. Our strategy addresses acquisitions as relatively small bolt-on additions to the product offering that provides us access to growing global markets. We will be attentive for the right opportunities as well as cognisant of our long-term capital structure.

Tim Tevens Tim Tevens