In the past, Jim Robertson, managing partner of General Crane USA, Pompano Beach, Fla., said the five companies that make up the General Crane family have remained fairly low key. “We've stayed under the radar • but that's all about to change,” he said, following last year's major purchase of 20 Liebherr all-terrain and telescopic crawler cranes and 60 Linden Comansa tower cranes. And Robertson was right; the dynamics of the company has physically changed since last fall, growing north of its home state to Atlanta, Ga., and west to Houston, Texas.
The five companies that Robertson runs with partner Jason Retterath • General Crane USA, United Crane, Hunter Cranes, Merchant Transport and Cranes, and Las Vegas, Nev.-based Republic Tower and Hoist • operate separately with their own management teams. “They each have their own niche,” Robertson said. But their needs were more or less the same: They required more machines to keep up with business.
Not only do the companies need more cranes for their existing projects and clients, but General Crane USA is also expanding into industrial applications, such as windmill erection, refinery work, and power plant construction. “We're undergoing a major global expansion, adding mobiles to all our fleets,” Robertson said. With the new market segment at hand, he added, “We wanted to get back into the 100- to 300-ton crawler cranes.”
Since opening its doors, General Crane USA has owned just about every brand out there, but it has always owned a lot of Liebherrs. “Liebherr AT cranes are by far the finest product in the world • bar none,” Robertson said. Today, Liebherr AT cranes make up the majority of its mobile crane fleet.
With major purchases made on the AT front in 2006, Liebherr Nenzing crawlers are the cranes of the hour for the company, which relied on its experience with Liebherr all-terrain, telescopic crawlers, and the one Liebherr Nenzing crawler it had in its fleet for the last five years • which Robertson said they love • to decide upon purchasing 16 new hydraulic crawler cranes from Liebherr Nenzing. “All our crawlers will be Liebherrs,” Robertson said.
To date, General Crane USA has taken delivery of five LR Series crawlers • three 200-ton LR1160s, a 300-ton LR1280, and a 330-ton LR1300 • and has 11 more on order, including two 115-ton LR1100s, a 150-ton LR1130, three 200-ton LR1160s, a 275-ton LR1200, three 300-ton LR1280s, and a 330-ton LR1300. According to Liebherr Nenzing, the LR1300, which is the latest addition to its product line-up, has out-sold all of its other models in its short existence. Robertson said it always incorporates additional equipment, such as luffers and derricks, into its crawler cranes. Upon delivery, these machines will go “where the need is,” he added.
Erection efficiency, overall maneuverability, and the cranes' electronics, including the LMI system, were all features Robertson said he liked about the Liebherr Nenzing crawlers, but it is the all-around quality of the products and Liebherr's service reputation that keeps General Crane USA coming back. “We're buying the Rolls Royce of cranes,” he said. “No one will argue with that.”
But will General Crane USA's growth stop at the addition of its 16 new Liebherr Nenzing crawler cranes? Not a chance. The company will soon be making more moves towards expanding its company, including one that will be named in the upcoming weeks, Robertson said.