C&L, Cranes & Lifting, Features

Mini crawlers a cut above the rest

Victorian glass handling specialist J A & SON, dramatically grows the business with the help of Maeda mini crawler cranes.

Victorian glass handling specialist J A & SON, dramatically grows the business with the help of Maeda mini crawler cranes.

J A & SON is one of Victoria’s leading specialist glass handling businesses.

Owner, Jason Scordo, recognised his company would require a specialist range of equipment to succeed and it now boasts a burgeoning fleet of Maeda mini crawler cranes.

Scordo worked for Kennards Hire for eight years, the last three of which he worked in sales for the Lift and Shift division.

“I was visiting clients in the glass, glazing, and façade industry; a lot of curtainwall companies and businesses like that. They were predominantly using trolleys, glass lifters, and access gear, and a few were taking the crawler cranes Kennards had.

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“Several customers, who had become friends outside of business, suggested I would be good in my own business and even said they’d give me work. In 2013, I started J A & SON with four glass lifters and six A-frame trolleys,” said Scordo.

The first 18 months in business saw a lot of dry hire, so to sustain cash flow and make ends meet, Scordo worked in his brother’s transport company as well. The dry hire included glass lifters and A-frames, and anything he didn’t have, he cross-hired, including access equipment, etc.

Scordo’s first labour job, a Hacer project called Nord Apartments, came two years after he started the business.

“Originally, they needed a glass lifter, but then they asked for an operator, and because I was ticketed, I went along. When I got to the site they asked if I would assist the company installing the curtainwall. I was then asked if I had a dogger’s ticket, which I did, so they had me dogging the tower crane to assist with installation of the curtain wall. They got value for money from me on that project! This was the very first install job I completed,” he said.

Scordo’s first crane job was for a domestic project in Toorak, which featured all commercial grade windows. Scordo cross-hired the crawler crane from another crane company, cross-hired their operator, and went out as the dogman himself.

“At the beginning, I was expecting business to be slow. I didn’t really chase customers; I had a handful I’d kept in contact with, who said they’d use me. I minimised my risk with some façade companies, where I would only hire them my equipment.  As best I could, I kept everything in-house and extended slowly from there. Left it as a natural growth.”

Scordo’s first crane was a new Maeda 285 mini crawler crane, bought in September 2016. With the crane, glass lifters, and A frames, he is now offering a turnkey operation.

“With the new crane, I didn’t need to cross-hire; I did when needed, but I was able to minimise these occasions. Now I turn up with a J A & SON crane – a glass lifter- but I was still contracting operators because I didn’t have my ticket yet. I was going out to dog the jobs and operate other equipment. Whether it be a crane, glass lifter, access equipment or trolleys, we were now able to provide a ‘one-stop- shop’ for customers,” he said.

Today, J A & SON operates around 140 A-frame trolleys, 20 glass lifters, and a special glass lifter manipulator, which bolts into the head of the mini crawler crane. There are currently 16 crawler cranes in the fleet, with the seventeenth already ordered.

The fleet is exclusively Maeda’s, and includes the following models and capacities:

  • MC174C 1.72t capacity;
  • MC285C 2.82t capacity;
  • MC305C 2.98t capacity;
  • MC405C 3.83t capacity;
  • LC383M 2.93t capacity; and
  • LC785M 4.9t capacity.

“We have a combination of LPG, petrol, 3 Phase electric, and diesel cranes in the fleet. I believe we have one of the largest fleets of three-phase cranes in the country, if not the largest,” said Scordo.

“The team at Pace Cranes has been outstanding with their back-up and support. They always get back with quick response time, and are keen to solve issues then and there, so you feel like customer and not a number. I can ring the office, or the guys directly and there is always someone willing to help out. If it can’t be fixed immediately, they will follow up and get back to me. Good quality service; that’s all you can ask,” he said.

“Our glass lifting equipment starts small with our manual hand-held suckers, suitable for flat and curved glass. Next are our 12volt dual vacuum glass lifters, which hang off the hook off the crane. These start from 160kg up to a two-tonne capacity. We carry the Wood’s brand for the manual glass suckers; and our 12volt systems are a combination of Wood’s vacuum lifters and custom- made units from Bremner Glass Equipment (BGE), which are locally sourced in Dandenong.

“We also have several elevated work platforms including electric scissors, diesel scissors, electric booms, diesel booms, scaffold, and manlifts. We’ve expanded a fair bit in this area,” said Scordo.

According to Scordo, the growth of the business has mainly been as a result of recommendations and word-of-mouth.

“We maintain great relationships with our suppliers, and business referrals have come from them. We often find customers will move companies and take us with them. There are also new business referrals coming from within the construction industry off the back of projects we are completing,” he said.

“My crew is outstanding, and they speak for themselves. No supplier always gets it right, but I would say with 90 per cent-plus of our jobs, I get positive feedback regarding our crew and how they go about their work. We have noticed clients asking for specific crew members and we recognise our guys play an important part in the success of our business. At the moment we are running 10 full-time site crew in a combination of crane crew, glaziers and carpenters,” said Scordo.

Over the years, Scordo and his team have completed a number of interesting jobs, including several zoo construction projects working on inhabited animal enclosures.

“Obviously we weren’t working side by side with the animals; given that one of the projects was on a lion enclosure, we probably wouldn’t have made it out! They held the lions in their den during the project, several meters from where we were working, but to hear the roar from the lions was not for the faint-hearted,” he said.

“We also installed Australia’s largest indoor sky diving chamber for iFly, the first company to install one of these chambers without breaking a panel we were told. We’re very proud of the work we do and try to go the extra yard for the customer. This means having the right team to complete the job safely, on time, and on budget, and with the right tools at our disposal. This includes our Maeda fleet and all the equipment that goes with it,” said Scordo.

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