Industry News

Rise of an Empire

In a crane yard, not so far away and not too long ago, two mates agreed on a philosophy to create a dry hire equipment company with a difference.

They identified a niche for a business providing cranes to ‘end users on large projects’ and supporting the largest crane companies on their Tier 1 ‘Mega Projects’; thus, Empire Cranes was born.

Empire Cranes was founded by Jarrod Belsey and Jared McDonald in 2019. They met a couple of years prior working at a construction hire business, McDonald as the National Crane Operations Manager and Belsey in Capital Sales. “Starting our own business was something both of us always wanted to do, we started hanging out at lunch together and discussing it more and more each day. We just decided one day, why not? Let’s give this a crack!”says Belsey.

“I have spent most of my working life in the construction hire industry, nearly 20 years! Starting out at a local Coates Hire Branch in Campbellfield, from there I have worked all over Australia in national sales roles building relationships with people all over the country.’’

Jared McDonald’s passion for cranes and running his own crane business began at an early age through a family run cranes and rigging business. “When I left school, I started working in mid to large infrastructure projects as a rigger, before moving  into supervision and construction management for the bulk of my career.’’

The concept of creating a crane hire business was first conceived over a long lunch attended by both the Belsey and McDonald families. ‘’We wanted to make sure that both families were totally on board with our new partnership. Getting their approval was critical to our success in such a demanding industry sector.’’

The name however was a different story. The McDonald’s family were at Marvel Stadium to watch a game of footy, “We were sitting there looking at the huge Marvel Stadium signage around the ground and thought that Marvel Cranes may be a novel idea for the name of the business.” His two young boys thought better of it, “Don’t do Marvel Cranes dad, Empire Cranes is better!” the boys are both huge Star Wars fans, and the name just stuck.

Belsey and McDonald discuss the philosophy behind Empire Cranes and their aims, objectives and vision for the business.

“The main philosophy behind the business was to create a dry hire equipment company positioned somewhat uniquely in a space where we can hire to both ‘end users’of cranes on major projects anywhere in Australia, and hire support cranes to the largest crane companies working on some of Australia’s mega projects.

“Our core focus has always been honesty. We talk openly about what we do and our capabilities with our clients and prospective clients alike. We love to work closely with them all to find the best tailored lifting solution for their project. It is important to us that all of our customers are satisfied with our service offering, so that they hire from us again! Our honest approach builds trust and it is essential to our continued gowth and hopefully continued success in the future. We understand we are nothing without the support of our clients.” said Belsey

McDonald and Belsey discuss the benefits larger crane hire businesses can realise by working with Empire Cranes.

“Construction and Infrastructure is booming currently as a result of the lockdowns and border closures over the past 12-months. Everyone is busy, which is great, we see some serious major projects in every state that are absorbing a lot of the labour force and the cranes in the market. We just want the other crane companies to know that we are here to offer them a dry-hire crane or two to help them at a pinch when their cranes are being utilised.” They explained.

‘’We don’t view ourselves as a competitor to the other crane businesses out there, we see ourselves as more of a supplier, to assist them when they need additional equipment. We are not tendering on the larger projects like they do, we are here to support them.”

“Crane people love to talk about their cranes and the projects they are working on, and we are passionate about that too, Jared (McDonald) especially, he has been around cranes his whole life, and when he is not talking about cranes, he is researching new cranes and reading spec books. That level of knowledge is great when helping our customers with their lifting methodology,” says Belsey.

Belsey and McDonald discuss the Empire Cranes fleet and the reasons behind the range of cranes they currently offer.

“We started this business with no cranes at all! We really leaned on our strong relationships and when an opportunity came up for a Franna hire we scrambled to purchase our first unit. Two and a half years on, we now have 13 cranes operating all over Australia. We have cranes on tunnel projects in Melbourne and Sydney, and Brisbane; cranes in the mines in Hunter Valley and on wind farms; we have been working on remote transmission lines projects; we even have cranes in the Pilbara”. We have adopted a strong growth strategy and want to continue to grow into the future to better support our increasing customer base.

“As it stands today, we have seven Frannas with capacities ranging from 20t to 28t, a 90t All-Terrain; 70t All-Terrain, a 55t and 70t Rough Terrains; a new 16t Sennebogen telescopic crawler, a new 4.9t Maeda and a handful of smaller Maeda spider cranes. We run all the major brands including Liebherr, Grove, Sennebogen and Maeda.’’

“Our Liebherr LTM 1070-4.2 is our latest purchase, it arrived in mid-November, we took delivery of this from Liebherr in Sydney. Although it’s a second hand crane (2016), it is in immaculate condition out of Europe, low hours, low kilometres, and we are very proud to have it in the fleet. More importantly, it went straight to work in Sydney, and it then has five months of work on the Parramatta Light Rail project.”

McDonald and Belsey discuss their plans for the business and what the market can expect to see from Empire Cranes in 2022 and beyond.

“We have a strong pipeline of projects coming up in the first and second quarter in particular, mostly jobs that we secured in the early stages of 2021, but Covid pushed them all back a year. So, 2022 is looking very positive for us.  What crane we purchase next is up to the demands of our clients, but we feel our next growth area is into small to mid telecrawler cranes and larger Rough Terrains. We feel we have enough frannas at this stage, and want to expand our range and capabilities but we will definitely focus on increasing our capabilities with the number and capacities of rough terrains and tele crawlers in the fleet.”

Empire Cranes have some major projects in the pipeline which will mean plenty of work for the fleet’s telecrawlers. This includes road and tunnelling projects up and down the east coast, says Belsey.

“We are also looking at expanding the all terrains for the construction-related projects we have in the pipeline. These will also work on a number of transmission line projects scheduled around the various states for the next seven years.

“Our rough terrain growth strategy is definitely a reflection of the inroads we are making in the resources sector and the relationships we have developed, particularly in mining and oil and gas,” he said

Belsey and McDonald discuss the importance of maintaining the fleet and how they manage this across a diverse range of products and geographic area.

“A key element of our maintenance and support strategy are the crane OEMs. We have also developed an excellent network of independent service and maintenance providers who are local to where our fleet is working, especially on the east coast. My previous roles have involved the maintenance of construction plant and equipment, including cranes, We have a great network nationally of trusted maintenance crews we can rely on.

“A major advantage of our network is how local the yards are to where our cranes are operating. When a crane has completed a project or contract, it means we can have it the cleaned and serviced locally and ready for the next contract or project.

“Our relationship with this network has been especially relevant and important over the last couple of years where the pandemic has prevented us from travelling and seeing the machines ourselves. Our partnership with the local service and maintenance network has been essential for the running of our fleet and our business.

“Our suppliers and maintenance crews are scattered all over the country, this helps keep our costs for transport and service support low, a saving we pass on to our clients.

“We are very excited about what the future holds for Empire Cranes. We just want everyone to know we are here to help, and don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call, we love talking cranes,” they said.








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