Although the Liebherr used crane business is a little over two years old, demand from the market has been above expectations and cranes are being sourced from right around the globe.
Since the age of 14, Tom Grady, Liebherr’s national used crane manager, has been working on and with Liebherr products. He explains a bit more about his role with Liebherr used cranes and how the business is fairing.
“In the mid 90s, I started an apprenticeship at the age of 14 with the Liebherr agent. We sold and serviced Liebherr mobile and crawler cranes, mining, concrete foundation and construction equipment. In 2005, we took on the LWN crawler crane and foundation products and then carried these over to Liebherr Australia in 2008.
“Being the national service manager/head of customer service, I was carrying out field servicing nationally, technically advising, managing spare parts, overseeing daily operations and supporting the sales team. In the early days, as with the Ehingen cranes, there were only a few units from the Nenzing factory, but in the following decades the business grew into the hundreds,” he said.
Grady provides background on the Liebherr used crane business.
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“I spoke to Andrew Esquilant about the role and understood what he was after and he could see I had the relevant skills and experience. I manage the whole process from the pre-purchase crane inspection, management of the import process, overseeing of required works through our workshops and final delivery ensuring the mechanical side and presentation is up to scratch. I also facilitate local used crane sales, trades and various other functions the job requires,” he said.
The Used Crane Department suits Grady’s skills set.
“I really enjoy the pre-owned cranes side of the business including all the technical aspects. The most enjoyable part of the job is dealing with customers during the sales process and seeing the end result. I feel my 25 years of experience, across Liebherr products, was perfect training for me to step up and into this role,” he said.
According to Grady, there are various sources for used cranes and his role isn’t just selling them.
“I have to be across available products and be in a position to sell and deliver them into the market. I also help manage the trade requests from the five new crane sales managers. They have trades to go in on new cranes and it’s my job to ensure we get the customer the best price on the trade,” he said.
“This may mean facilitating a deal between two customers. Instead of putting the trade ‘on the books’ and having to hold or re-sell it, we put customer A who is trading the crane, in touch with customer B who is looking for that used model of crane. With this scenario, the crane will generally end up going through the workshop where we might make a tyre change, carry out a major inspection, provide a service and Crane Safe inspection, along with weighing them and carrying out the registration process.
“Our factory in Ehingen Germany trades around 250 cranes a year in terms of mobile and crawler cranes so there’s nearly always the correct sized crane available somewhere in the world. Last year we delivered the 10,000th used crane from our facility in Germany. Like the majority of the cranes we trade, we knew the history and background to the crane as Liebherr initially sold it, serviced it, traded it back against a new Liebherr, and then put it through our inspection process before delivering and commissioning it into Melbourne,” said Grady.
According to Grady, a lot of cranes in Europe are not fully equipped for the Australian market and explains why customers consider pre-owned cranes.
“Many of the cranes we see from Europe are ‘under-specced’ for the Australian market and being the manufacturer, we have the opportunity to ‘spec them up’ with different fly’s, winches, dolly preparation etc. and then deliver the crane into Australia exactly how the customer wants it,” he said.
“There are many reasons why our customers choose a used Liebherr. We have a premium product and customers see the value in owning a Liebherr whether it’s new or pre-owned. Customers can buy a two-year-old crane, fully serviced and delivered on road with warranty, for a similar cost to a new crane from another manufacturer.
“We also have customers purchasing a new crane and then find they can’t get the finance for a second, so they look for a pre-owned Liebherr crane as an option. We also have customers with an urgent requirement for a particular size and the lead time for a new crane might be too long and we have had a used crane on stock,” said Grady.
Grady works closely with the new crane sales managers ensuring the best outcome for customers.
“Most days, I work with the new crane managers across Australia and New Zealand and we understand what the customer wants. Together, we’ll put forward a new or a used option, it’s not about pushing them in one direction, we leave the decision to the customer. We’re offering a full package,” Grady said.
“We know what cranes are coming and if we are short of a stock unit, I will source a used unit which will generally be fresh on stock in one of our overseas facilities. I can source used cranes from my counterparts in Germany, UK and the US. All the cranes have been sold new and serviced by Liebherr. The cranes are put through the workshop and tested so we know what we’re up for and what work needs to be done.
“The cranes are thoroughly washed, serviced, inspected, tested, repaired and sometimes factory painted. They’re shipped and arrive on the wharf where we move them through quarantine. This process is working really well now. Inspectors have seen the quality and the cleanliness of the equipment to the point they have asked if the cranes are definitely used,” said Grady.
“Once the crane arrives at our facility and depending on the build, our work can vary immensely. The build could involve a boom removal kit, major inspection, dolly preparation and pretty much everything in between. We carry out the roadability items, Crane Safe inspection, and registration process. Generally speaking, I’m the last person to touch the crane just after the detailer,” he said
The used crane business has led to an increase in new customers experiencing the Liebherr brand, says Grady.
“The used cranes are attracting a lot of new customers, quite a few of our used crane customers are new to Liebherr. We’re working with a customer now who started his business a few months ago and this is his first crane. Customers are understanding our value proposition,” he said.
According to Grady, all local Liebherr facilities are capable of refurbishing a used crane.
“I don’t have to specifically bring a used crane into Sydney. Depending on which state we sell the crane into, our local facility can handle it. We’re not just focused on mobiles, we also bring in crawler cranes. There are two LTR’s coming which are tele boom crawlers and both are going to the one customer in the outback,” he said.
Knowing the history of the crane provides Liebherr with a number of advantages says Grady.
“As the manufacturer, we have a number of advantages when it comes to used cranes. There’s generally nothing we can’t find out about a particular crane. We built the crane, we commissioned the crane new and, on most occasions, we’ve serviced and maintained the crane where-ever it is or has been in the world.
“From the technical and service side, we have the best team in the business. Another key advantage is we have access to the paperwork trail including the various warranties and parts; everything is there. If we bring in a crane it’s basically starting a fresh life and the savings versus a new crane can be quite sizeable depending on the crane size,” he said.
“Since January 2018, we’ve purchased and sold 18 cranes from our overseas facilities and we’ve managed numerous local trades. We have seen around 350 used crane trades or purchase requests and have moved between 50 and 60 cranes, so the demand is there. We’ve got customers that keep coming back with some moving onto their second and third crane.
“There’s great job satisfaction seeing new family businesses start out and existing customers expand. You can see the drive and enthusiasm and understand where they want to be one day. Being a family business, Liebherr understands these ambitions and with each and every instance, and with every step on the journey, Liebherr is right in there and with them,” said Grady.