Avant UK – Versatility at Its Best
Reflecting the needs of the market, Avant has pioneered the most versatile compact loaders in the world, turning a hard job into a joy.
The Finnish company, established in 1991, has created a truly global footprint. In the three decades of its existence, Avant has manufactured more than 70,000 loaders at its manufacturing plant in Ylöjärvi, Finland. The company has sales offices in the US, UK, Germany and Brazil, and sales partners in more than 65 countries.
Starting with a product that answered local farmers’ needs for versatility and flexibility, the company soon moved to developing machines for other sectors such as landscaping, green area maintenance, horse stables, and private use.
“The business is still owned by the Kakela family, now joined by the second generation, and that family attitude marks all our business relations,” says Raimo Ala-Korpi, Managing Director of Avant UK, based in Norfolk. “International teams, dealers as well as clients come to visit the factory in Finland, and the company owners often come to meet the teams abroad as well as the clients, keeping their finger on the pulse. That spirit of partnership also marks our work in the UK.”
For pastures green
The Finnish company started trading in the UK in the early 1990s and the official subsidiary was incorporated in Thetford, Norfolk in 1999. First located in a garage, the business gradually took off as the traditional English market started to see the benefits of the small, compact machine.
“We sell a concept – a machine that can be used for moving pallets today and for cutting the hedge tomorrow. With the range of attachments available for purchase or hire, one machine can do a lot of jobs. Multi-functional loaders were a new product in the UK market at that time, but even if progress was slow, today the UK ranks amongst Avant’s top five markets together with Finland, the US, Germany and the Netherlands,” Mr Ala-Korpi points out, who himself came to the UK as Avant’s Managing Director in 2014 to help develop the business further.
It goes without saying that human resources have been key to the company’s growth, specifically in new markets. A focus on finding the right people, as well as on strong partnerships, has paid dividends throughout the turmoil of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Ala-Korpi admits. “Only with the right people and the right partners that create value for our clients and the whole value chain can a company truly succeed in finding solutions, which otherwise would not be possible due to a lack of expertise, technology or manpower.”
“In this context, I must mention DSV, the global transport and logistics specialists, which has executed smooth deliveries before and after Brexit in a timely manner, a crucial factor for our clients. On the financial side, partnering with Clear Business Finance was highly beneficial for finding the best financial solutions for our dealers and customers. And our business was strongly promoted by Fuschia Exhibition Services and Capture House, a partnership that goes back to the days when Avant arrived in the UK and has lasted like a marriage, for better, for worse… It is as a result of these partnerships that we have succeeded, of partnerships that ultimately benefit a larger community and that make all the effort and hard work worthwhile.”
Compact, efficient, eco-friendly
Today Avant has eight model series and over 200 different attachments. The basic machine is available with more than 50 different options – starting from additional weights and leading to air-conditioned cabins. Engine power ratings start from 20 hp and range up to 57 hp.
Two years ago, the company presented its new Avant 800 series, the largest and most powerful loader series, and the range of loaders has been complemented by the Leguan spider lifts – versatile and reliable self-propelled access platforms. This year, the company is going to unveil an improved Leguan version, fitted with sophisticated features to make the operation even easier and more enjoyable.
A focus on reducing its carbon footprint has been a major topic for Avant for quite some time, notes Mr Ala-Korpi. “In 1995, Avant made the very first electric loader in its category in the world. However, that development was too far ahead of its time. Now of course, when e-mobility is the buzzword across developed markets, the situation is different.”
“We have recently launched two series of electric loaders, further promoting the concept of sustainability – the concept of having a single machine for a variety of jobs is sustainable on its own, but now we offer machines that are cleaner, greener, produce no exhausts and are still highly efficient. A fully electric loader with zero emissions and extremely low noise is the answer to future requirements.”
The machines are all made in the Finnish factory and shipped abroad completed but Mr Ala-Korpi explains that the UK facility has an assembly workshop where options and adjustments can be made to meet local requirements. “We are here for the customers and they can contact us anytime. Having a strong local presence means that we are not a faceless company.”
Avant celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and against all odds, and in spite of a turbulent 2020, saw yet another growth year. “The pandemic made us stop and re-assess what we were doing, but the bottom line is that the market needs our machines. In fact, last year ended up with a fantastic result, as our customers – restricted in their business operations – focused more on internal property and landscape improvements.”
“In summary, the recent years, marked by unprecedented developments such as Brexit and the pandemic, have only accentuated our belief that we are doing things right. People want our machines, and they appreciate our personal approach. Reflecting customers’ ideas in innovations that are brought to the market quickly is our strategy for the future. To this end, we are looking to strengthen the local team, and to push for further business expansion in the UK market,” Mr Ala-Korpi concludes.