Investor Spotlight: Southern States Material Handling

March 31, 2023

Southern States Material Handling is the provider of Toyota’s world class material handling solutions to customers across a multitude of industries including, but not limited to, distribution, manufacturing, agriculture, retail, ports, education, and logistics. The diverse range of solutions include forklifts, fleet optimization, robotics/automation, conveyor, racking, facility planning, and lean management consulting.

David Bailey, President

David served in the US Army where he protected our country and freedoms for over 22 years before retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel leading Operations & Finance for Central Command. He transitioned to Toyota Material Handling in 2013 where he started as General Manager and worked his way up to leading the organization as President. David was drawn to the Toyota principles of “Monozukuri Wa Hitozukuri” (Building Things is Building People) and “Kaizen” (Continuous Improvement), which immediately resonated with his approach to leadership and operational excellence. Under his guidance the company has continued to grow in headcount, locations, solutions offerings, market share, revenue, and profitability. David is also passionate about serving the community and actively gives his time in support of the STAR veteran transition program and Southeastern Guide Dogs. He and his wife Crystal have 6 children and are avid Oklahoma Sooners fans.

Your company is headquartered in Tampa. What makes Tampa a great place for corporate headquarters?

For years, the Tampa Bay region has been a business-friendly growth market. The talent pool offers a wealth of diversity in demographics & skills. There’s a reasonable cost of living for our associates. The roadways, railways, ports, and airports all allow for continuous growth and an easy commute…most of the time.

What in your view are Southern States Material Handling’s greatest opportunities for growth in the short term, and the longer term?

We have grown from being a forklift sales company to a full material handling solutions provider. By providing solutions like forklifts, robotics & automation, and lean management consulting we are currently helping customers overcome challenges associated with labor,  space limitations, and other pressures that arise because of their growth.  For companies that relocate or start-up operations in the region, we are uniquely positioned to visualize through Computer Aided Design then provide the expertise and solutions needed to help them maintain their competitive advantage. We truly provide “one hand to shake” in the long-term partnership of a company’s success.

What community issues are you most looking forward to the EDC tackling over the next couple of years?

The continuous pursuit of an inclusive economic growth strategy. It is critical that we continue a wholistic effort of developing job opportunities and economic development across the spectrum of our region’s community landscape.

You’re a fairly new EDC Investor, what are you looking forward to most in supporting local economic development efforts?

Lending my diverse experience as a leader and the unique perspectives gained from the various industries we serve to help companies find success when relocating to the Tampa Bay area.

What’s your favorite place in Tampa or your favorite thing to do?

My family and I love activities on the water. Whether it is boating in the Bay, bass fishing, or visiting the numerous beaches. There are so many ways to enjoy the Tampa Bay area, and many of them are very budget friendly as well!