Committed to supplying first class service and equipment to its clients, Williamstown Crane Hire has spent the last few decades establishing a profile as one of the most modern and diverse crane hire companies in Victoria, operating in a range of markets including manufacturing, petro-chemical, wharf services and construction. Jan Arreza reports.
Established in 1987 by sole owner and director Gilbert McKay and commencing operations with only one crane, the company initially began operating in the inner western suburbs of Melbourne doing industrial and port work and, as the years went on, the company expanded to doing business in Geelong and Hobart, Tasmania as well.
Thomas Smith, managing director at McKay United (Williamstown Crane Hire, Eastside Crane Hire and Elliott’s Cranes), said that, while traditionally the work has more often than not been around the industrial projects, in the last couple of years they have increased their involvement in construction.
“In recent years, our Melbourne side of the business has gone heavily into the construction space, with a lot of the infrastructure work that is going on around here,” Smith said.
“And because of this, we’ve added more machinery to our fleet that better suits that space; and now we are trading in both spaces and we’ve got plenty of stuff in our fleet that we can put into the marketplace.”
The company’s goal as a group is to have the most efficient and modern crane fleet in Melbourne and Geelong, and to extend this reputation nationwide through a continued commitment by management toward expansion and growth.
Already, the company has pledged about $10 million in the last 18 months in upgrading its fleet and expanding new equipment across the crawler cranes and the heavy hydraulics range of machines.
“The 350t crawler cranes in our fleet are a very strong performer because a lot of the infrastructure work being done in Melbourne at the moment are retrofit against the current stuff,” Smith said.
“This means that when we don’t really have a lot of room to work in, we can get in there with these crawlers and get a lot done in the environment available to us.
“There is really nothing at the moment that we can’t do apart from the massive undertaking involved with wind farm construction work and some of those extremely specialised infrastructure works. We are involved with the maintenance of wind farms though.”
Smith pointed to a few recent projects, including the use of the company’s Demag CC2200 crawler cranes on bridge sections for an elevated rail project for Lendlease, and its Liebherr LTM1300s that works with McConnell Dowell for the Level Crossing Removal Project in Williamstown North.
Meanwhile, the company’s Grove GMK7450s have also been hard at work on the Rosanna Rail Station project. It was also involved with some regional bridgework at Rosedale and Terang and it has undertaken several wind farm maintenance works in the region.
“Our company is fairly unique in the market here; we have a huge volume of work which is either in engineering, construction, civil construction, or just pure building site work, all with specific needs as far as work, personnel and machines are concerned,” Smith said.
“For example, in the petro-chemical space, one is encouraged to go as slow as possible, because the contractors don’t want to even think about someone making a mistake, let alone a serious one actually happening, as opposed to the construction space where productivity and quickness are extremely high on the agenda.
“Our company is really running two operations – a traditional client-based operation and an infrastructure arm of the business, so we really need get the proper skills alignment in the correct segments of our business to service these areas properly, and that is one our biggest challenges.
“Skill shortages are a major challenge today because everybody is competing with not only other crane companies for these skills, but contractors are also employing their own crane operators and riggers to operate machinery that they have sourced out themselves.”