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Exclusive Interview: Sinoboom North America CEO Desmond Soh Talks Sustainability, Expansion and Industry Trends

Exclusive Interview: Sinoboom North America CEO Desmond Soh Talks Sustainability, Expansion and Industry Trends

By Katie Holt

Navigating through a period of worldwide industry challenges and technological advancements, Sinoboom stands out with a clear focus and a commitment to progress. Marking a significant 16-year milestone, the company remains dedicated to its niche, producing exclusively aerial equipment and asserting its position within the top ranks globally. 

In a candid conversation with Lift and Access, Desmond Soh, CEO of Sinoboom North America, shares an overview of the company’s evolution, its adaptation to the current economic climate, and its forward-looking strategies. 

Emphasizing the importance of core values and customer satisfaction, Sinoboom’s narrative is one of resilience and a thoughtful approach to growth and environmental responsibility within the industry.

Lift and Access: Can you provide an overview of Sinoboom’s journey in the aerial work platform industry and then just generally, your current market position?

Soh: We’re the most mature and proven Asian aerial lift brand. We’ve been in operation for 16 solid years. The first booms from Asia were developed and created by Sinoboom. The rest came along later. Also, we are 100% focused on aerial equipment. We don’t make dirt equipment, excavators, or cranes, just aerial equipment. We see ourselves as the aerial specialist as opposed to other brands that have a wide portfolio. To add to that, we are globally ranked in the top 10.

Lift and Access: Everyone in this industry has experienced global economic shifts due to COVID-19 and other issues over the last few years. Has Sinoboom adapted its business strategy in response to this? 

Soh: For Sinoboom, we pride ourselves on four core values as a company. These four values are: one, to be honest and professional, two excellence in everything we do, three is customer satisfaction, four is we strive to be good partners. Customer satisfaction is something that our company pays close attention to. Sinoboom’s owners and founders, Steven Liu, our chairman, and Susan XU, our group’s CEO, emphasize our second core value in saying that excellence is a performance standard. 

The whole company rallies around that, either we do a really good job or we don’t do it. 

Although the landscape has shifted, the economic challenges, whether supply chain or the economy or global policies, etc., Sinoboom holds the core values very tight. We adapt the company to those things but make sure we don’t sacrifice our DNA.

Lift and Access: Is there anything coming up, either short term or long term that the company is excited about?

Soh: We are going to release an enhanced version of one of our telescopic electric booms. It will be lithium powered, and will come with a portable charger as an option. We want to help solve the issue of equipment users not having anywhere to charge electric equipment on a job site.

Lift and Access: From your perspective, what are the key trends shaping the aerial work platform industry today?

Soh: I think the green movement is here to stay. So everywhere you go, whether it’s Europe, the U.S., Australia, even China, electrification for sure is a trend that is observed not just on aerials but also on dirt equipment. Data shows that in the United States, electrification has pretty much stagnated to a 33% adoption rate for aerial booms over the past couple of years. For slab scissors, of course, it’s in the high 95% because they have transitioned to electric drive for a long time. 

We see that trend picking up in North America. So over the next couple of years, the next five years at least, I think you’re going to see a lot more movement in electrification of telescopic booms and others. 

Also, when talking about current trends, there’s a lot of talk about AI especially for repetitive tasks. For example, cleaning a building’s facade, which is repetitive, or painting a large part of a wall, etc., AI can play the part in completing these tasks. 

Another trend that we see quite a bit of is fleet management requirements and Internet of things (IoT). There’s a lot more interest in telematics and so forth. In a sense, as we design our next generation of products, just like other brands do, we will factor in the need for more effective fleet management.

Lift and Access: How is Sinoboom incorporating sustainability and environmental considerations into its product development?

Soh: As we offer an increased amount of lithium powered products to our customers, we are working with vendors around the world to map out an effective recycling solution for these batteries. As a manufacturer, we need partnerships to address the recovery and disposal of lithium powered batteries. This takes time to develop. Sinoboom has always been proactive in facilitating long term sustainable solutions. We believe this helps contribute towards environmental protection efforts for our industry.

Lift and Access: Let’s talk about your company’s expansion and more market dynamics. Sinoboom has been expanding its global footprint, especially in North America. Can you talk about what challenges and opportunities that presents for the company?

Soh: We believe that our fundamentals are strong and that we will continue to deliver products that address the needs of our customers. This is especially true with the support we feel we will continue to receive from the rental industry, coupled with the good customer service we provide. Now, when it comes to challenges, of course, supply chain constraints that others in the industry are also facing is indeed a concern. Everyone is going after the same supplier for the same components. This can cause some allocation issues every once in a while. 

As we continue to expand globally, talent acquisition issues, like all companies face, are a natural challenge. But for us, being an Asian company operating in the west, whether it’s Europe or the U.S. or Australia, hiring can sometimes be an added challenge because of the cross-cultural differences.

Also, we have to make sure that our systems are in line with the needs of our business. We take pride in that we use SAP, a global enterprise software, and Salesforce. We also use Windchill, (an American software) for our engineering needs. We want the industry to know that we are not just another company from China. We are professional and internationally focused all around. 

Lift and Access: How does Sinoboom ensure a high level of customer satisfaction and service excellence across the company?

Soh: As I mentioned earlier, we take our core value of customer satisfaction seriously. Steven Liu, chairman and co-owner of Sinoboom, along with our owner/group CEO Susan XU, both chair customer satisfaction meetings once a month. Every 30 days, they will sit down in a boardroom where they review our company’s VOC (voice of customer) information from across the world and say, “Are there things out there that we need to pay attention to?”

Our owners are showing that, as we grow, as we expand, we must not forget the basic old school fundamental of customer satisfaction. Sustainable development, cohesiveness with our clients, repeat orders from our customers, these things are all interconnected. The fact that they personally take a day out of every 30 days to look at our VOC data across the world is a big deal. 

Lift and Access: In the next five to ten years, where do you see the aerial work platform industry heading? How has Sinoboom been preparing for these changes?

Soh: Almost every five years you see major changes in the industry. But despite the changes, I think work at height and fall protection will continue to be a key driver. An aging workforce is another aspect of it. With society getting older, young people don’t want to go to job sites. What we see is that the demographics are actually shifting it in such a manner that the demand for automation, the demand for productivity are going to increase. Job sites where you have less manpower, and more demand for equipment will be more common. What this really tells us is that there will be continued growth in our industry for many years to come.

The other thing that I think that is, important, aside from safety requirements or demographics, buildings are becoming more upscale and complicated to build. It’s almost like you can’t do it the old way anymore. This is where specialized equipment like MEWPs will come in handy. 


Lift & Access is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.