US manufacturer Textron has invested heavily in its GSE business over the last few years, and growth is still on the agenda today
Textron Inc has acquired four different GSE concerns and placed them under the aegis of its Cheltenham, UK-based Textron Ground Support Equipment (Textron GSE) operation – Douglas, TUG, Premier and Safeaero – all of which have been acquired by the company in recent years (the company has also acquired a fleet management business, Tek GPS, which is now called Textron Fleet Management).
Matt Chaffin, vice president & general manager for Textron Ground Support Equipment, explains that the process of acquisition has been all about Textron looking to “make a difference in the GSE space”, and that that is still very much the case today. The process of expansion through acquisition has also been complemented by organic growth, and, Chaffin confirmed, growth remains one of the three main areas of focus for the division’s portfolio today.
The other two priorities he pointed to are ‘product innovation’, including the new Alpha tractor about which he said the company is “very excited”, and the ‘customer experience’. In this latter regard, Chaffin said, Textron hopes that every time a customer thinks about GSE, they think about Textron, and that the company will be able to serve all their GSE-related needs, whether in terms of product, maintenance, service support or any other aspect of the total customer experience.
The Textron brand is now a very strong one in the GSE segment, Chaffin asserted, with the company having adopted a single business strategy uniting all the various component parts of the business that have been brought together. He confirmed that further expansion, whether through acquisition or organic growth, will likely involve further diversification and growth into the spaces in the GSE segment which represent gaps in the current portfolio. Such ‘gaps’ might include cargo loaders, passenger stairs, fuel trucks or catering trucks, for example.
Common chassis offered across the portfolio would help customers, with that commonality allowing the possibility of efficiencies in terms of training, maintenance and ease of operation across the fleet.
Lars-Gunnar Nilsson, general manager EMEA&I within Textron Ground Support Equipment, added some thoughts on the widespread geographical footprint that the acquisition of the four different companies has given Textron Ground Support Equipment. The benefits are many; for example, not only does it allow the company to get closer to its customers no matter on what continent they are located, but production of different vehicle models can be moved as necessary across countries and across markets. Textron is now, for instance, producing GSE such as its M7 electric baggage tractor, M1A tug and TUG 660 belt loader for the Asian market in Wuxi, China.
Textron demonstrated a wide range of equipment from its various acquisitions during inter airport. This GSE included a Douglas TBL-280 hybrid Super Tug, an M7 baggage tractor, a Safeaero 220 de-icer that features the valuable glycol-saving Preventive De-icing option and a TUG 660 belt loader; there was no room for the all-new Alpha tractor on the stand, but instead there was a virtual reality demonstrator in place to illustrate the new unit’s value.