Career spotlight : Des Fell – Forklift Training

After completing a teaching degree at UCT in 1966 Des taught at a school in Zambia and became headmaster. He then joined Dexion Storage and Materials Handling, migrating to South Africa in 1973 to start a branch in Cape Town.  Frustrated by drivers damaging his racking shortly after installation, Des became interested in forklift driver training. In 1984 he started   the first Western Cape company to specialize in the training of forklift drivers. He worked closely with the Department of Labour and the South African Institute of Materials Handling to improve driving standards. 

He was chairman of the Institute for several years, and started an annual forklift driver competition in which drivers trained by his company never failed to win. His course was used as the basis for the compulsory licensing of forklift drivers which began in the late 1980’s. Des introduced on site training especially at freezer stores and successfully took a driver to compete internationally in Sweden and Wales during 1990’s .

Now semi- retired, Des  consults to companies that have challenges with forklift driver performance.  He also runs on site forklift operator management seminars as  “policing” of forklift drivers is impossible unless supervisors understand what constitutes good driving practice. Without constant on site policing, drivers quickly forget their original training even with 2 year refresher courses.  The amount of damage caused by poor forklift driving in modern warehouses makes management  training essential, especially as forklift training course standards have fallen over the years.

Des can be contacted on 076 055 0931 or