Adrian Lees and his wife Lis started AGL & Son Crane Hire in 2000 with a 16t Franna. Today the business is thriving. Remaining family owned, there has been continual investment in the upgrading of the fleet. The business is now viewed as an employer of choice for experienced crane crews.
Adrian started with Anderson Rigging back in the early ‘80s as a learner permit rigger and kept going from there.
“I got my tickets and went to Melbourne where I worked on the tower cranes as a Dogman. In the early 90’s I got my crane ticket and continued operating cranes from there. After some years, my wife and I just thought, ‘Let’s have a go and see what we can do for ourselves,’ and we bought a 16t capacity Franna. 13 cranes later, we’re still here and we’re going well, which is good,” said Adrian.
Adrian had the Franna working in general crane hire before winning jobs in steel erection. For this work he purchased a seven-tonne Kobelco City Crane. With more work in the pipeline, he then bought a 10t Tadano City Crane.
“I tendered for some work with a company called SA Precast and we were successful. It was a big job constructing the Elizabeth Shopping Centre, in Adelaide, which involved the installation of some 700 precast panels. This was a big step up for us and it meant investing in our first all-terrain, a 50t capacity Liebherr,” he said.
“From there, we’ve been lucky to be in a position to continually update our fleet and today our biggest crane is a 200t capacity Liebherr. We also run a 160t crane, a 95t, and a brand-new 60t Liebherr LTM 1060-3.1 is arriving in November.
“When it comes to the larger capacity all terrains, I like to operate the one brand because it makes life easier all-round. If you can operate the 60, you can operate the 200, if you have the appropriate ticket, of course. The Liebherrs are simple and straightforward to operate, I like the Liebherr guys, I like their service and support, so, we’ll be sticking with the brand.
With a maximum load capacity of 60t and a 48m telescopic boom, the Liebherr LTM 1060-3.1 is one of the most powerful and capable cranes in its class. Safety and comfort configurations ensure greater operability and the hydro-pneumatic axle suspension and pneumatic disc brakes provide greater control and stability. Its five steering programs enable the operator to adapt to different environments with the touch of a button. Both the driver’s cab and crane cab are modern, spacious and dependable and ergonomic features help prevent operator fatigue.
Other key features with the Liebherr LTM 1060-3.1 include:
• VarioBase which is designed to make the crane’s support system variable. It enables each outrigger to be extended to a different length. This enhances safety – especially in constricted spaces. The crane’s lifting capacities are significantly increased, particularly over the outriggers and depending on the configuration.
• ECOmode minimises both fuel consumption and noise emissions when operating the crane superstructure. The crane operators can set the required working speed using the control lever. The LICCON2 control system calculates the perfect engine speed for the diesel engine.
• ECOdrive makes the mobile crane significantly more comfortable and quieter by reducing the engine speed. Faster gear shifting delivers greater dynamic and traction off-road. On the road, the torque from the Liebherr diesel engine is used efficiently to minimise fuel consumption.
AGL’s operators like the Liebherr brand, says Adrian.
“Our operators think the Liebherr brand is the Rolls-Royce of cranes, they love them. Many have worked for other companies, and obviously, they’ve operated other brands, but they think Liebherr is the ‘bee’s knees’.
“They are very comfortable with the LICCON operating system and the VarioBase enables work to be carried out safely in constricted areas. The maximum lifting capacities are calculated individually and precisely for every situation. This ensures safe working practice with any chosen support base,” he said.
“The Bluetooth and all the systems like that are all about comfort, and they’re a good crane to operate. They feature all the modern-day comforts including air conditioning, heating, comfortable seats and the controls are ergonomically designed. Liebherr certainly has the operator totally in mind with the design of the cab,” said Adrian.
He goes on to discuss the experience he has in the AGL team.
“We have 10 operators and eight riggers, and we also use a few casuals every now and then. Over the years, most of the team have worked with the bigger companies in South Australia.
“They’ve come to us because they want to work in a smaller family business, where they are not treated simply as a number. They’re’ ‘part of the family’ as we call it.
“A lot of our team have a really good name in the industry, so I’m very lucky in that sense. All of our people take pride in their work, they look after cranes, keep them clean, let me know if there’s any damage, or if there are any issues, such as leaks, or if servicing is required,” said Adrian.
The backroom team is just as important. Heather Tuckwell is AGL’s Operations Manager. Heather worked for National Cranes for 15 years before moving to AGL six years ago. Lis, Adrian’s wife, has been managing the accounts since the business commenced and Gabbi manages all the infill work and ‘everything else’.
Adrian is impressed with the role of The Crane Industry Council of Australia (CICA) and he and his team wholeheartedly embrace CICA initiatives.
“CICA has been really good for us. As yet we haven’t got on board with CrewSafe but we’ve been looking into it and we are keen to embrace the program. It seems that every time we get close to working with our team we get overwhelmed, and all the guys are out working. We will get onto CrewSafe one day,” he said.
“I get to some meetings, but as a crane owner, finding the time to attend can be difficult and I know it’s the same for other owners. But CICA is a very important industry body, and it is very welcome with my company because of CraneSafe.
“We work in a high-risk industry and safety has to be the number one priority. I believe the CraneSafe program is more thorough than the annual inspection and we get Phil Young from Titan Crane and Inspection services out here for our CraneSafes. He’s right across everything and ensures our cranes are in good condition and fit for purpose,” said Adrian.
“I leave the maintenance of the all-terrains to Liebherr, no one else goes near them, Liebherr looks after the Liebherrs. I do have a dedicated Terex mechanic and he looks after all our Frannas, and also the Tadanos in the fleet.
“I rely on my guys to come back and say, “Mate, we’ve got an issue here, or a leak there, or this and this,” which they do. They put the detail in the logbook, and we get the appropriate people out here straight away to fix the issue.
“We’ve got a second crane yard up at Morgan, on the Riverland over 300km North East of Adelaide. I run that yard as well as our main yard in Adelaide so it’s very time-consuming travelling between the two. We don’t employ sales representatives or supervisors.
“We’ll continue to focus on ourselves and provide the best possible service we can to our customers. CICA is driving excellent initiatives throughout the industry. Their programs are increasing the importance of operating safely and they are increasing the standards of ‘safe’ cranes through programs like CraneSafe. We’ll continue to be a big supporter of CICA in the years ahead,” said Adrian.
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