C&L, Cranes & Lifting, Features, Tasmania

Drawing on 160 years of heritage

Elliott’s Crane Hire and Specialised Transport is a highly specialised crane hire and heavy haulage services provider operating in Hobart and the surrounding areas. Greg Smith joined Elliott’s workshop crew from school, then progressed to operating the cranes and trucks and now, he owns the business.

Elliott’s Crane Hire can trace it’s business roots back to 1860 and a yard in Battery’s Point, a historical part of Hobart which back then was the industrial suburb. Initially, it was a transport company started by Jack Elliott, using horse and drays. The business moved into cranes in the 1920’s using old trucks with wooden poles on the back and a chain box. The business belonged to the same Elliott family up until 10 years ago when Greg Smith bought it.

Smith went to work in the Elliott’s Crane Hire’s workshop straight from school. He started out fixing the trucks and cranes, then started driving them and now he owns and runs the business.

“Ten years ago, Don Elliott was the owner of Elliott’s. He was in his 80s and he had a manager running the business. Don wasn’t interested in the business anymore, he didn’t have any children to hand it down to, the manager wasn’t managing the business and it had pretty much run into the ground. The vehicles and the cranes were poorly maintained and serviced and were at the end of their working life. The business had been let go,” said Smith.

About this time, Tom Smith and his father-in-law Gibb (Gibby) McKay from McKay United had been in Tasmania looking to purchase another crane hire company but hadn’t manage to strike a deal says Smith.

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“They heard about Elliott’s and its demise. They visited the yard and of course, nothing appealed because it was basically all rubbish. A few people had been talking about me and what I had been doing for Elliott’s. Tom and Gibby approached me and asked if I would be interested in doing something.

“Effectively, we both put in a sum of money and we paid a figure for the business including the intellectual property, one or two of the trucks which were in a reasonable condition but none of the cranes, they were beyond fixing. We started the crane business fresh with a couple of cranes, an 80t Grove, a 20t Linmac, a Hiab truck and a prime mover. Soon after we purchased a 30t KATO truck crane,” said Smith.

With Smith’s experience and know how, the business took up where Elliott’s had finished.

“We move a lot of houses and we move a lot of boats. We do a lot of steel erection and general crane hire. A lot of our work is out of the ordinary, it’s work other crane companies won’t or can’t do. We also do a lot of specialised transport and heavy haulage,” said Smith.

Today, Elliott’s crane fleet includes:

  • 3t Maeda mini crawler;
  • 4.5t Linmac crawler;
  • 12t Tadano city crane;
  • two 20t and a 25t Franna;
  • 30t Kato truck crane;
  • 35t Liebherr all terrain;
  • 40t Tadano Faun all terrain;
  • 55t Grove all terrain;
  • two 65t truck cranes;
  • 80t Grove all terrain;
  • Five axle 100t capacity Grove;
  • 200t Hitachi crawler; and
  • 220t capacity five axle Liebherr.

Elliott’s also run a fleet of Hiab trucks prime movers and tilt trays and boasts a a crew of 20 full time staff including the team in the office.

Smith explains Elliott’s recently secured a contract with a salmon farm an industry the business has been involved with since it’s inception.

“They mature salmon in nets out in the ocean and these nets get dirty with mussels and seaweed and other ocean life growing on them. When the nets are clean, they weigh around 7t to 10t, but when they haul them in for cleaning, they can weigh up to 45t,” he said.

“A large barge brings the dirty nets in and we lift them from the barge with our 200t crawler. We place the net into the back of our huge off road 100t capacity dump truck and drive it up the hill to the net cleaning slab. The dump truck tips the net onto the slab and it is cleaned.

“The nets vary in size and depending on the size and the weight of the net they either pull it out with a Franna or we’ll send an 80t or a 100t capacity crane to site and load it back into our dump truck. Once the cleaning process is complete, we drive the net back down and load it back onto the barge. This happens at least once every two weeks. The barge can get in close, but the crane is still working fairly close to its maximum radius with a 45t net.

“We’ve been working for the fish farms from when they first started up in Tasmania, that’s been over the last 40 years. Even when it was a tiny industry, we’ve been the preferred supplier of cranes and transport.

The Tasmanian market is very different in terms of the nature of work compared to the major cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane says Smith.

“Work around Hobart is not like the major cities, we’re not building major highways and when we do there are no huge overpasses. There are occasions when a large project comes along, but it is very rare; it’s not like the major cities where infrastructure is being built all the time.

“A city like Melbourne has all the major rail projects happening and it has a huge refinery sector, it’s not like that in Tasmania. With our business, it’s a case of waiting for the phone to ring and it’s a builder who wants to lift an air conditioner onto a roof, or the structural steel guy who needs to put a steel frame up, it’s general taxi work.

“We also move a lot of old weather board houses and brand new cabins, we do a lot of that type of work, craning them into place. I think we are one of the only crane companies that will lift boats, other providers turn their nose up at this type of work. We’ll lift anything and everything for anyone,” said Smith.

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