It seems a long time ago now that I sat down with OCH cofounder Mark Bridger and hatched a plan to launch a brand new overhead crane and hoist magazine dedicated to the USA, Canada and Mexico. In fact, it was only Spring last year, which made our goal to unveil the first issue in time for the 2007 Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA) Fall meeting the biggest challenge of my professional career.

We were already familiar faces to many Americans who knew us as the editor and group sales manager of parent title Hoist. After all, we already enjoyed a healthy readership in the USA (around 30% in fact) and we will continue to circulate Hoist in the States, Canada and Mexico. But it became clear to us that this fascinating market warranted a published voice of its own.

Seemingly endless market forecasts, interviews and meetings, and now a few issues, later, we feel we have positioned the product in the best possible place for the end user community, the overhead crane and hoist industry, its key participants, and the products and services they offer.

It’s the volume of dealers and end users that we will reach through OCH that make the publication a priceless marketing tool and voice for manufacturers and crane builders alike. And also something of a Bible for end users who have previously been starved of such dedicated trade journalism.

It wouldn’t be right to get to this point without thanking Hal Vandiver at the MHIA and all of its member companies for the priceless guidance and support they offered at the outset, and since, in bringing this exciting initiative to fruition.

OCH is all about promoting overhead lifting equipment above all other forms of material handling, specifically lift trucks.

I was surfing around the blogosphere recently, researching a blog for the OCH website, when I bumped into Tom Andel, editor-in-chief, Modern Materials Handling (another US-focussed publication). He had just put the phone down following a conversation with Jim Shephard, president of Shephard’s Industrial Training Systems. They were discussing lift truck tips.

“We got to talking about how materials handling equipment is sold and how sometimes the salespeople are as clueless as their customers about the application of equipment in the customer’s environment,” Andel said.

Problems begin when your operators try to fit that square peg into the round hole that is your operation, he continued.

He had touched upon a key point. After all, lift trucks are often the square peg he refers to.

Shephard told Andel that, at the time of writing, he had received five calls from attorneys in the previous few months, looking for an expert witness associated with fatalities involving lift trucks.

Short of clowns and custard pies (not that I’d put it past them), the forklift truck exhibitors will try to turn NA08, which takes place in Cleveland, Ohio, between April 21-24, into a travelling circus.

The usual suspects will be out in force at the I-X Center, where there will be as many entertainers as sales and marketing personnel, and live shows will be billed as though in the big top itself.

I find the music, flashing lights and bongo drums an uncomfortable reality of showtime. After all, there’s very little a forklift can do that an overhead crane can’t, and often do better.

There’s a certain glamour attached to forklifts that could be the main reason why they hold such a massive slice of the materials handling market.

Yes, you can race them on your lunch break and do doughnuts in the yard, but there are clear advantages of, say, gantry and jib cranes in many applications.

The MHIA, the organiser of NA08, the largest material handling show in the Americas this year, is expecting 15,000 visitors to Cleveland. It’s an audience the overhead lifting and component manufacturers must capture if we are to gain a priceless portion of the market currently entranced by the lift truck firms.

Lend your support. OCH will exhibit alongside Hoist at booth 2725.

Does that answer all your questions?

Check out the new OCH website, click below.

Richard Howes, Editor