Finding innovative solutions for the cemetery and funeral industries is where Ohio-based Axis Corporation got its start, and it’s an approach that has kept the family-owned company growing for more than 60 years.
When Axis first manufactured the Logan vault handler in 1958, the fledgling company was responding to the need for cemeteries to set vaults in a precise location, without disturbing the surrounding landscape with heavy equipment or too much foot traffic.
Today, Logan vault handlers have become an indispensable and enduring piece of equipment within the industry.
Axis Corporation President Matt Oldiges says there are still a few Logan handlers in operation that date to the early ‘70s—a full decade before Oldiges’ family purchased the company in 1982.
When your equipment lasts that long, innovation becomes crucial to your company’s growth.
“Our products last 20 to 30 years,” Oldiges says. “So new customers are a must for us. When a customer starts with us, our hope is that we will grow with them, or they will grow their business and get another trailer.”
That’s why it’s so important for Oldiges to be able to point his customers toward someone who understands how to make financing work for these unique types of investments.
Axis refers customers to Madison Capital to finance equipment purchases, which are often in the range of $30,000.
“They’ve been really responsive to our customers,” Oldiges says, adding that banks can have a hard time understanding exactly what role vault handlers and dump trailers play in a business plan.
“With Madison, our customers don’t get those questions,” he says. “They know it’s a piece of equipment, they know what the equipment does and they are more aware. It’s a benefit to our customers.”
Under the leadership of the Oldiges family, Axis Corporation has continued to develop new pieces of equipment within a clearly defined niche: self-propelled trailers that are tailor-made for the needs of the cemetery and funeral industries, but that can also be used in many other industries.
“We’ve even moved pianos with them,” Oldiges says.
In addition to the Logan vault handler, Axis also sells a number of other pieces of lightweight, towable, easy-to-maneuver equipment that allow cemeteries, funeral homes, monument handlers and other businesses to move heavy loads without damaging sensitive grounds with industrial-grade machinery.
The product line includes:
- Self-propelled dump trailers that easily move and dump heavy loads of dirt or mulch in a precise location.
- Monument handlers, which provide a safe way to haul and place heavy yet delicate monuments with a single piece of equipment. A crane-equipped model is also available.
- A towable “Truckhoe,” which provides the power of a traditional backhoe, but at a much lower price, and causes less damage on the jobsite.
- The PathTrack II, an innovative piece of equipment that functions as a vault and monument handler, but also can place items in multiple directions.
“Everything kind of developed from seeing a specific need within the industry,” Oldiges says.
All of these products represent a significant capital investment that can be a foundation of growth for a business.
Recently, Oldiges has been talking increasingly with monument companies about his equipment. The vault and monument handlers fill what he sees as a niche in between two traditional methods of placing monuments.
They are much cheaper than purchasing a separate truck and crane to lift monuments, which is a solution many companies can’t afford.
But they are far less labor-intensive than another common method of moving monuments: having employees do it using wheeled dollies. Using the handler instead of this hand-placement method has the potential to save on injuries and workman’s compensation claims down the road. It’s also a benefit in today’s tight labor market.
The equipment Axis manufactures represents a completely different type of purchase than the more standard vehicles many banks are accustomed to financing.
Oldiges often points out to his customers that in the time that they own and operate one of Axis’s trailers, they may go through three to five trucks.
“I tell them, this trailer has the same mileage as all of those trucks combined,” he says. “This is a much more long-term investment. You don’t just run it for 200,000 miles and then you’re done.”
Oldiges says the company prides itself on being there for its customers throughout the life of the equipment.
“We always try to provide the best service, the best equipment, to make their job more profitable and easier,” he says.