Creator of Operational Excellence | Ashwini Wankhede

Ashwini Wankhede

President & COO

Toyota lift Northwest (TLNW) represents Toyota Material Handling Corporation (TMH) in the state of Washington and Oregon. TLNW is owned by Toyota Tsusho Corporation.

Toyota Tsusho Corporation, based in Nagoya and Tokyo, is an sōgō shōsha (trading company), a member of the Toyota Group. Toyota Tsusho has a worldwide presence through its many subsidiaries and operating divisions. Its main business is supporting Toyota Motor’s automobile business and other Toyota Group companies, but Toyota Tsusho’s business is diverse, spanning industrial, commercial, and consumer sectors. Business areas run the gamut, including industrial raw materials, agricultural products, and high technology.

TLNW markets Toyota Forklifts manufactured by TMH at their manufacturing plant in Columbus, Indiana. While they are limited in their jurisdiction to sell forklifts, TLNW has developed alternate revenue-generating channels that make them a truly integrated solution provider. 

Ashwini Wankhede is the President & COO of TLNW who believes successful organizational change is possible only if the management team is 100% aligned with the leader’s vision. When it comes to organizational transformation, it’s all or nothing. Once everyone is aligned with the vision, behaviors will begin to shift. What once seemed impossible is now possible. What seemed like a lofty goal is achievable by the task-driven performance index. An organization’s areas most affected by transformation are mindset, behavior, culture, strategy, design, and tactics. Mindset affects behavior, which creates a culture that either succeeds or fails in implementing a strong strategy and necessary tactics for execution. The management team must have an authentic belief in the vision. Resisting change can leave an organization outpaced by competitors.

Fast decision-making, consistent communication, empowerment, inclusive leadership, and trust are some of the qualities that have helped Ashwini transform the organization. Ashwini has been hailed as a persuasive and tenacious leader with a proven track record of achieving positive business results by increasing sales, expanding market share, and offering global sales and marketing strategies that deliver business innovation and process excellence. He has been creating synergies that expand corporate capability, maximize market potential and increase profitability in competitive, global environments.

Ashwini is an ardent believer in continuous improvement, architect, and mentor of high-performance teams. He shows passion and entrepreneurial zeal for creating alignment and operational excellence for seamless execution.

A Support System

According to Ashwini, entrepreneurship is often associated with genuine uncertainty. Most often, it involves the creation of a novel good or service for a market that did not previously exist. The aptitude of entrepreneurs to work closely with and take advice from early investors and other partners has long been considered a critical factor in entrepreneurial success. High determination, perseverance, self-confidence, and courage are critical characteristics of a budding entrepreneur.

Mentoring is key for Ashwini, where he provides real-life examples from past experiences to develop trust and communication with not only his teams but all those seeking his advice. He allows budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to experiment with its products and services which is critical for their success.

At TLNW, the culture resonates from their goal to exceed customers’ expectations at all touch points. The company provides turnkey solutions for their forklift needs and exceptional customer service built on honesty, transparency, and respect. “We are happy to not only provide the world’s leading forklift, but also improve warehouse efficiency through storage systems, automation, enhanced safety, continuous improvement process, and more,” says Ashwini. “To deliver consistent positive results in terms of both net income and market share, it is imperative to have a strong coherent team that delivers consistently. Right person for the right job is the mantra for our success. Seeking feedback from our employees and acting on good ideas instills pride of ownership.”

Building A Brand

The shifting state of the Material Handling industry has been prominent as record inflation is impacting dealers in numerous ways, including fluctuations in pricing, rising operating expenses, wage pressure, and higher interest rates. Today companies are competing for talent across industries and must be aware of current compensation levels, benefits, and flexible working opportunities to address recruitment and retention challenges. Customer demands for automation continue to increase, and dealers must be prepared to embrace these automation and related service opportunities.

Since 1967, TLNW has offered the best Material Handling solutions to Oregon and Western Washington businesses. Specializing in the world’s best forklifts and equipment from Toyota and AICHI, they are proud to offer AUSA Rough Terrain, Genie Aerial Lift, and Landoll Material Handling Equipment. TLNW offers material handling parts and services, warehouse storage & automation solutions, used equipment, rentals, and forklift certifications. Under Ashwini’s leadership, the company has been thriving as the employees are trained and appreciated for their hard work and implementation of the latest technology. “As part of the TMH offering, TLNW has now signed up for a Dealer Connect program, a dealer management system, that will replace all our legacy systems and provide one platform to all our needs,” says Ashwini. “This will integrate our sales, service, parts, rentals, logistics, finance, accounting and marketing functions. In addition, a lot of emphasis is on cyber security. We have incorporated layers of security to mitigate any potential threat.”

On the new product development front, the all-new SEnS Smart Environment Sensor™ (SEnS) pedestrian detection system – designed and engineered by Toyota – uses advanced technology and can assist operators in identifying a pedestrian or object behind their forklift during a shift. SEnS uses proprietary algorithms to distinguish between these obstacles. If within a detectible range, a buzzer and four indicator lights will alert the operator that a pedestrian or object is within a certain range of the forklift’s rear. SEnS is available as an add-on kit that can be retrofitted for select Toyota Forklift models currently in utilization and new models. SEnS, works with multiple input voltages and fits a variety of applications.

With the industry shifting from LP/Diesel internal combustion forklifts to electric forklifts, TLNW has added a Power Division specializing in Industrial forklift batteries. The goal is to offer solutions to customers to prolong the life expectancy of their current fleet of batteries, reduce equipment downtime, and increase the batteries’ efficiency, increasing productivity and minimizing operating costs associated with the batteries. “We have also added in our own line of batteries, and chargers called T-PLUS to be able to quickly replace a failed or inefficient battery system,” explains Ashwini. “Under this banner we brought in state-of-the-art technologies designed specifically to increase battery life and capacity which in turn directly corresponds to an increase of productivity for the customer when the battery can be rehabilitated to make it through a full work shift without needing to stop production to recharge the battery. This is just one of several new departments added to TLNW like our storage & automation, Industrial tire services, and trailer services in the hope to offer a wholistic solution to our customers.”

In an instance, a customer called in to inquire about a solution to their fleet of electric forklifts. The issue they were having was that their forklifts would only make a standard 8-hour shift after the battery would be discharged. The operator would have to stop multiple times during their shift to bring the forklift back to the charging station and wait 30 minutes to get enough of a charge to work another hour or so. Our Customer Sales and Service Representative (CSSR) met with the customer and toured their operation, looking for possible causes of their issues. The findings were that the chargers being utilized are an antiquated older technology that causes serious problems to the overall capacity and health of the battery. The CSSR created a plan of action that included replacing all the chargers with new CEC-compliant high-efficiency units, testing and reconditioning all of the batteries with our “Batt-Medic” (our onsite battery testing and desulphurating machines), and replacement of any failed batteries. The results were an increase in productivity of 20%, total shift run times, and a reduction of electricity used to charge the batteries of over 35% with the use of high-efficiency chargers. The expected ROI of this solution was estimated at only 1 year.

Because TLNW has made directional changes to become a wholistic solution provider while the CSSR was on site, he noticed that the chemical manufacturer’s customer was filling their product containers by hand. He watched employees would hand fill 55, 200, and 300-gallon containers with a corrosive liquid product. With the CSSR’s knowledge stemming from cross-training in all our departments, he offered the customer a solution to a problem the customer was unaware he had. The CSSR introduced an automated filling machine and a feasibility study to show the benefits. What the study found is that filling the containers by hand was not only a safety concern for the employee, and severely time consuming, but it was also incredibly inaccurate as far as the amount of fluid being filled in each container. The average inaccuracy of the fill was between 1 ounce to ½ a gallon overfilled in each container. The total cost for the addition of this automated filling system was Approximately USD 650,000.00. The project is currently in the construction phase, but projections of ROI are less than 3 years strictly based on resolving the overfilling problem and did not include the increase of efficiency nor the decrease of the safety risk for the employees.    

Towards the Future

“The courage to keep reaching, to keep working, and to keep fighting. Courage to dream big and to think big. Courage in the face of difficulty, courage in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of courage is our biggest achievement,” elucidates Ashwini. “Our team now has the eagerness to seize opportunities, the love for the unconventional, the will to win, and most importantly to do so in the shortest possible time.” Ashwini believes it is not about what can be done for them but what can be done by TLNW together. “I believe we can capture this future together, because we are one strong team. I believe, we are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions. Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it a seed of equivalent or greater benefit. We are going to rise and rise together.”

It is pertinent to mention that over the last 13 years, TLNW’s average new forklift sales were 755 units. This calendar year, 2022, they are on track to sell more than 2000 units. In 2019, their service market share was 59.5%, and in 2021, TLNW became number 1 in service market share in the entire dealer network across the United States. In October  2022, they were once again number 1 amongst all the “A” dealers and a joint number 1 in the entire dealer network. “In the last 2 years we have opened six new facilities. We have started our own battery line and charger line of business. We have also commenced tire business and servicing trailer business,” adds Ashwini. “We are now capable of reconditioning and refurbishing our used trucks. We have increased our rental fleet three-fold. We have invested in our storage and automation department which is now yielding positive results. We are hitting record numbers in service, rentals and parts sales.”

TLNW plans to further solidify and position Toyota Lift Northwest as a Total Integrated Solution Provider. The intent is to eliminate any downtime the customers face due to product or aftermarket failure. TLNW attempts to get closer to customers and be a partner in their operations; understanding their customers’ pain points and grievances leads to innovation and improvement in their solutions. “We will continue to put additional resources to offer a total integrated solution to our customers. Intent is to drive the success of our customers by partnering with them and exceeding their expectations,” says Ashwini.


" We are happy to not only provide the world’s leading forklift, but also improve warehouse efficiency through storage systems, automation, enhanced safety, continuous improvement process, and more. "

Ashwini Wankhede

President & COO

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