Cranes and Lifting talks to Liebherr’s Andrew Esquilant about his rich history in the crane sector.
Andrew Esquilant, General Manager of Liebherr’s Mobile Crane division was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the CICA Gala dinner and presentation evening.
For everyone who knows Andrew, one word best describes his strongest trait, humility. CAL caught up with after the presentation to learn more about his career and what the induction means to him.
“If I’m honest, I was only ever meant to be in the industry for 3 months and that was 25 years ago,” Esquilant said. “I’m a carpenter and joiner by trade and I found myself on site with a tower crane supplied by Morrow Equipment, the Liebherr Tower Crane dealer. I was the leading hand on the job and the dogman for the tower crane frequently didn’t turn up and the Project Manager asked me to cover for him and that’s where my crane journey started.
“Although, I did leave that job and went to work for a small domestic builder and at that stage I planned to be the next Harry Triguboff with grand, and maybe delusional, plans of having a big building business.”
Esquilant kept in touch with Morrow Equipment and worked with them again on a three-month contract to build concrete foundations for a number of tower cranes. Once these were completed Morrow Equipment asked him to become a dogman (again), which led to him getting his crane driving ticket and his ‘love’ for the industry began. By the mid 90s he was part of the rigging team erecting and dismantling tower cranes. Then in 1997, Esquilant and his wife were in a nasty car accident and he needed a fair amount of time off work to recover. When he returned he realised the physical side of rigging was going to be beyond him and he resigned. Morrow Equipment didn’t want him to leave and offered him a position in sales.
“So I started in sales rentals with some purchase rentals for Liebherr Tower Cranes and this suited me and it was around this time I was introduced to CICA. I probably got into CICA with the best interests of Morrow Equipment and the tower crane business,” he said, “but over time I met wonderful people and made great personal friendships in the association. Next year with be my 10th year as a board director.
“And then eight years ago, Liebherr approached me to work with them directly and I was offered the National Sales Manager role for Mobile Cranes. It was a big decision because Morrow Equipment had been great, but there wasn’t really a career ladder to climb there, so I took the job. I was in the role for a couple of years when the General Manager of Mobile Cranes received a senior posting back in Europe and I got ‘the tap on the shoulder’. To this day, I am humbled that I was offered the position. Not long after that I was appointed to the management board of Liebherr Australia,” he said.
“If I look back, my beginnings were humble. I was hopeless at school but I’ve studied hard at the ‘University of Life’. On reflection I know I’m lucky to have found the crane industry and if I don’t have the best job, I’ve got one of the top three in the industry.
“I’ve dealt with the unions, big customers, and most days I’m a foreign exchange expert on the FX rates on cranes. But most of all, and I said this on the night, I work for, in my opinion, the worlds’ two best companies, the Liebherr and Esquilant families.
“Induction into the Hall of Fame is a privilege, I was completely shocked as the award was totally unexpected. You don’t do this stuff to get awards, you do it because you’ve got a passion. The traineeship program is a perfect example. Kids can find themselves headed down the wrong road in life for no fault of their own. It might be due to social dynamics like divorce but, fundamentally, they are good quality kids. That’s why I’m passionate about the traineeships.
“You can do well in the crane industry, you don’t need to be highly qualified to earn a good living, its an industry that can take you around the world, its done that for me.
“The Liebherr family are incredibly generous and on occasions I shake my head and think, ‘this shouldn’t be happening to me, how did I get here?’
“John Gillespie is a legend of the industry, a good friend and a good customer. So to share the stage and to receive the award from him was very humbling. This year was my 18th conference and I clearly remember my first one on the Gold Coast. I knew no one, and all these names were getting banded around and here I am 18 years later and my name is getting banded around with them, that makes me feel very privileged. There’s a lot of good people on the CICA honours list, and to now be amongst