Bringing high-quality, used cranes from around the world is a service The Baden Davis Crane Connection specialises in. Utilising their years of experience, the Crane Connection team has delivered hundreds of cranes to happy customers.
The Baden Davis Crane Connection has been selling new and used cranes for a decade. Partner and director, Anthony Davis, explains the history behind the business and how he found himself in the “crane game”.
“I started with Gerhard Baden and GM Baden in 1997. I knew nothing about cranes and on my first day in the job, Gerhard handed me an operator’s manual for a Liebherr 1060-1; he had a crane set up in the yard and he told me to learn how to operate it. So, I sat in the crane, read the manual and worked out how to operate it. You could say I was literally thrown in at the deep end,” said Davis.
“When I started there were 19 Liebherrs in Australia. Over the years, we obviously got a lot more machines into the market and when the business sold in 2007, both Ben and I were part of the sale. I stayed on for six months before moving to Manitowoc where I worked until 2010. I really enjoyed my time with the team there and it was a good company to work for.
“Ben stayed on for another six months then left and started Ben Baden Services. This business grew quickly. He was doing insurance work as well as servicing cranes and customers were asking him to fire back-up again. The opportunity to become the Link Belt agent and distributor presented itself, and Ben and I decided to start the Baden Davis Crane Connection,” said Davis.
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Used cranes were also a focus for the business and more opportunities presented along the way, says Davis.
“We were appointed the Link Belt distributor, but we were also selling used cranes, particularly Liebherr, because we knew them so well. In 2014 we became the agent for TIDD articulated pick and carry cranes, and in 2020 a sub-dealer for Kobelco through TRT.
Used cranes were approximately 50 per cent of cranes sales at GM Baden, says Davis.
“Used Liebherr cranes were important to the business. Not everyone was attuned to buying all terrain cranes; they were focused on Japanese truck cranes and didn’t fully understand the benefits of European-manufactured all terrains. Slowly we educated the market, and as the Liebherr agent, getting used Liebherr cranes into the market was part of this process,” he said.
“Liebherr were trading in used models and we were requesting certain models with accessories. They would find them and send them over and we’d carry them in stock. It’s a little different now as we have to buy our stock and we do this with popular models, but often customers will ask us to source a specific crane for them. We do that and bring it in pre-sold.
“Today, we have customers asking for different brands and we will bring in what they want. One benefit of using the Crane Connection is the ability to buy and keep cranes in stock without needing a sale for them. We try and carry a couple of cranes at all times. If a customer rings, generally speaking they want the crane instantly; they don’t want to wait four months until it arrives. You need to have stock on the ground and be confident it’s the right product for the market,” said Davis.
Ninety-five per cent of the used cranes bought and sold by The Crane Connection come from overseas, says Davis.
“Because we have been doing this for so long, we have a large network of international suppliers who will find the right crane for us to bring in. Our contacts are mainly based in Germany and function as ‘spotters’.
“We also have a company that conduct a thorough inspection on each crane. These companies are the equivalent of CraneSafe Inspectors and they prepare and send us a detailed report on the condition of the machine before we purchase it.
According to Davis, there are a number of processes a used crane needs to go through before it can be delivered to the customer. Quarantine is the first. There are strict procedures around picking a up crane from the wharf that has a quarantine notice and bringing it to the yard. When the crane arrives at the wash bay, it receives a comprehensive and detailed wash-down. An AQIS inspector then arrives to inspect and clear the crane.
“To get the crane on a boat we have to organise all the import permits. We have built our own Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) -approved wash bay, which allows the crane to come straight to us. It’s in our control the entire time. We can quarantine it, get it cleaned, get it cleared, and have it registered and prepared for delivery.
“We carry out an initial Crane Safe inspection and any repairs required. With 80 per cent of the cranes we sell, the customer wants the crane painted in their colours, so we paint it – also in house. We also register the crane for our customers.
“Sometimes we bring in cranes on spec, and sometimes customers request a certain make model and vintage. In this instance we’ll source that crane and bring it in for them. Depending on the local availability of a particular crane and their budget, we’ve had customers ask us to bring in older cranes,” said Davis.
“A few years ago, we had a run bringing in a number of Demag city cranes because there were none available on the local market. These varied greatly in age; a couple of late model units and a couple of older 2005 models.
“We also brought in a 300t Grove all terrain for Valley Cranes. That was a major job. It came from New Zealand and we manufactured and fitted a dolly. We painted it and gave it a 10-year inspection. The majority of cranes we buy come out of Germany, but we’ve brought cranes out of Spain, Italy, and France, and we currently have one on the water from England,” said Davis.
A customer has a number of options when weighing up how to land a used crane in Australia, and the savings can be significant compared to the purchase of a new crane, says Davis.
“If you are bringing in a late model crane, you can be saving between 20 and 30 per cent compared to a new crane. Availability is also a major issue. We have customers who can’t wait for a new crane or they can’t afford the extra for it. We carry a wide stock and have the ability to trade in cranes of different brands because we are independent,” he said.
“Depending on the trade-in, we may decide to refurbish the crane or, because we’ve got such a good network of customers, we can typically find a home for whatever brand, make, or model it happens to be,” said Davis.
The exchange rate can also have an impact, says Davis.
“If the Australian dollar is strong against the Euro, customers will tend to buy new because it’s cheaper. But if the exchange rate is down, as it is now, then used becomes more cost- effective because the price of new cranes skyrockets,” he said.
The Baden David Crane Connection is also a member of the Motor Traders Association and has an authorise motor dealer’s licence which provides a number of advantages.
“Quite often a customer will find it easier to get finance for the crane if they are buying through a dealer compared through private treaty. There is a guarantee of title from a dealer as opposed to one crane owner purchasing from another. This makes is it easier for finance companies to help clients,” said Davis.
“Also, if a customer wants to buy a crane from overseas there might be occasions when they have difficulty obtaining approval from their finance company. This is normally because the crane is not in the country and the payment can only be made by a Letter of Credit. We have the ability to buy these cranes on behalf of the customer and take away all these issues.
“Customers say to us, ‘Can you buy this crane and bring it in for us?’ Because we have the ability to pay for their crane, we can. They leave a deposit and we bring it in for them,” said Davis.
Assuming there are no problems, it will take approximately four months to land and deliver a used crane. The main advantage dealing with Baden Davis Crane Connection is that everything is done in-house, says Davis.
“We source the crane overseas, we fund it, and we bring it in. We quarantine and wash it. We service and repair it and we get it CraneSafe-approved. We paint it in-house and register it for the customer. Even the major OEMs can’t make this claim. They might have a paint shop, but they rely on contract painters. We are the only ones who have everything in-house, all the time,” said Davis.
“Plus, you always have the advantage of dealing with a family business instead of a huge multi-national corporate, where you are only ever a number. We always encourage customers to drop in anytime, meet our team and we’ll make you a cuppa,” said Davis.