Inside the transformation of Yale: a Q&A with Robert O’Donoghue, Vice President Marketing and Solutions, EMEA


Out with the old, in with the new. The launch of the Yale® Series N is just one element of an exciting transformation within the company. Behind the scenes, Yale Europe Materials Handling is evolving the way it does business across the board in a bid to meet changing customer needs.

2022 will be the first time Yale reveals this transformation to the world, but the foundations have been laid in recent months and years.

With wide-ranging changes and new ways of selling, engineering and building Yale products, Robert O’Donoghue, Vice President Marketing and Solutions, EMEA at Yale sat down to delve deeper into what has been going on behind-the-scenes as Yale embraces the future.

A lot of the conversation around the new Series N range was about a wider business transformation of Yale: what sparked this?

The way our customers are buying materials handling equipment has changed dramatically over the past five years. Businesses want to work with a partner that understands their business and delivers the right solutions for their applications. We need to ensure Yale is their first port of call and that we can add more value earlier in the decision-making process.

The transformation is wide ranging – including how we have designed and built our new Series N range, but the changes don’t stop there. Some will be noticeable, whereas others have been a seamless transition. It’s an incredibly exciting period in our history.

Ultimately, we want our business to be focused on the success of our customers. This is why the Series N is designed to offer a new level of excellence in lift truck solutions. By moving away from defined categories of basic, standard and premium lift trucks, the Series N offers a new customer experience that enables them to define their own truck specification.

How is Yale rising to meet the changes in customer buying habits?

Our research has shown that customers are self-educating earlier in the buying process than ever before, so it’s important that Yale is there at the start of this journey to guide them to the solution they need.

We discovered that 68% of primary research by our customers is happening online. For this reason, we launched a brand-new website in 2021.

Having digested the wealth of information out there, as many as 57% of buyers have already completed the decision process of what they think they want in a materials handling solution before they engage with a salesperson – so our website is designed to be informative and inspiring, with a focus on industries and solutions.

With so many customers self-educating online before they speak to a salesperson, has that changed your approach to sales?

Yale needs to be involved in conversations as early as possible; after all, people want to buy from people. We have developed the HYImpact sales process that engages high up within a customer’s organisation early in that buying journey.

Today’s best practice is to fully understand the customer’s industries, their applications, needs and wants, and recognise how we might help the customer in ways that only Yale can. We’ve found what matters most to our customers is access to information: that’s knowledgeable salespeople and advice on suitability for their intended application. We’re transforming the availability and quality of what we provide so our sales team become trusted advisors.

We’re really rising to this challenge and embracing our new sales approach. Our dealers are also critical to our success and ensuring that we grow within the market, as is having the best partners with the best tools to deliver on that service.

One area of significant change you mentioned is how you design and build Yale products; how does the Series N factor into this?

The Series N marks a completely different way of providing products to our customers. The entire range is based on a single platform, enabling our customers to build a truck to meet their specific applications. They no longer have to settle for superfluous features and functionalities; they can define exactly what they need from a lift truck. With the Series N, customers can reject the status quo and set their own standard.

The most respect we can give our customers is to understand their needs in a deep way and have a platform that is both modular and scalable to configure the optimal solution.

How else has the company pivoted to this new ethos?

Changes to our Craigavon manufacturing facility have enabled us to create a more agile production line, providing better lead times for our customers.

Simplifying and streamlining our operations has improved on cost-efficiency, scalability and quality; we can now make any mix of product on the assembly lines, meaning we can react to customer needs rather than anticipating them. This helps us to supply products quicker to our customers and get our products integrated into their operations.

Quality still remains a top priority, and our new processes incorporate automation to ensure consistency across multiple products.

This is an incredibly exciting era for Yale, and we can’t wait to hear from our customers and dealers about their Series N experiences. There is a lot more to come, so keep an eye out for more news from us! Our success relies on the success of our customers; our investments in our facilities, digital solutions and new products are all driven to support them in reaching new levels of efficiency and productivity.

For more information on the extensive range of materials handling equipment from Yale go to