C&L, CICA, Cranes & Lifting, Features

Snowy Hydro 2.0 boost for local crane business

Local crane hire business, Cooma, takes on any job that requires their services all year round and they’re currently busy with preparatory work on the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project.

Local crane hire business, Cooma, takes on any job that requires their services all year round and they’re currently busy with preparatory work on the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project.

Cooma Crane Hire is a family-owned business, servicing the Monaro and surrounding areas as it has done for over 40 years. With a versatile fleet of cranes and a strong focus on work, health and safety, the business recently secured a significant contract on the Snowy Hydro 2.0. project.

With a background in the building industry, Keith Bottom started the family business back in the late 1960s. He started with a small lattice crawler and soon after bought a B61 Mack truck, 1964 model with a 1972 Tadano crane on the back. Keith used the crane to drive piles for the bridge work as well as other lifts. Then the general started to call and the business snowballed from there.

Today, Keith is semi-retired, and the business is run by his son Craig Bottom, who took over the business in 2013. Like his father, Craig is also a builder by trade, completing his apprenticeship as a carpenter. After a stint in the building industry he jumped across to the cranes to work with his father.

“In terms of work, we’ve had a pretty good run locally over the last eight to ten years. There has been a local windfarm project that’s generated a fair amount of work and we recently had the Snowy Hydro 2.0 start up.

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“We’ve also been doing a lot of modular housing work. We’ve created a bit of a niche for ourselves in the area, and we can find ourselves working anywhere from Jindabyne, Canberra to the South Coast on modular home projects. Our client likes what we do and how we do it and we always get the job done for them,” said Bottom.

“We have also spent a lot of time in mountains building lodges and infrastructure for the NSW ski fields. As years have rolled on, the general hire has got busier for us and we have been expanding our client base which now reaches from southern NSW, ACT, and south coast. We have worked on some major projects including a local windfarm, a full powerline upgrade from Cooma to Bega, and various construction projects in NSW and ACT.

“Customers call us up to talk about the next project. They confirm their job requirements and we either visit the site for a site inspection or use site plans and satellite images to determine what requirements we need. We are a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week business. If the phone rings and we can help someone with our services, we will.

“We tend to hold onto our clients for one main reason, service. We put the customer first, we make it easy for them to do business with us and we get the job done. Clients like our no fuss attitude,” said Bottom

With the Cooma Crane Hire fleet, it’s important that the mix of capacities is right, so every crane is utilised to its maximum potential, says Bottom.

“In terms of lifting capacity, we go from a 20t to a 90t. We run a 20t Franna, and in the all terrains we’ve got a 35t Liebherr, a 55t Grove, a 60t and a 90t Liebherr.

“We have bought new cranes in the past, but most of our recent purchases have been used cranes. We’ve bought three cranes through the Baden Davis Crane Connection and we’ve been really happy with what they’ve done for us. Anthony Davis and his team have always been helpful with their advice.

“I’ve thrown my ideas at Anthony and he’s gone away to see what is available. Most recently, I bought two cranes through them which were out of Europe, they were from the same company. They look after their cranes over there and BKL are a fairly big concern, so the cranes have been well serviced and well maintained,” said Bottom.

“All our cranes are on Level 3 access which enables us to get to 98 per cent of the places we need to get to. Obviously, if I upgraded to a bigger crane, I’d have to go to Level 4 or Level 4/12 which would mean a lot more access issues. As we stand our fleet is very mobile,” he said.

Cooma Crane Hire recently secured a contract to provide cranes for the Snowy Hydro 2.0 construction project says Bottom.

“At the moment, we’ve got the 90t Liebherr on site and we’ve got a full crew there including an operator and one or two dogman. We’ve been unloading accommodation units and we’ve been doing a bit of general hire around the project.

“We recently unloaded 200 plus accommodation units, there’s a lot more to come and then they’ve got to be installed. There’s a fair amount of preparatory work going on and a lot more work to do. They have bought their own cranes for the job and it will be interesting to see how they go,” he said.

“Like any small business, a big job like this gives us a degree of security knowing we have the work in the pipeline. In mid-July, we only had four crane jobs for the week and the following week we were absolutely flat out. With the crane business, it’s a case of ‘swings and roundabouts’, but a job like the Snowy gives us a bit more confidence that the work is there for a while to come.

Cooma Crane Hire runs a crew of seven full time staff and a couple of casuals. Bottom says the business will turn it’s hand to anything where a lift is required.

“We recently completed some bridge construction and I’ve focused more on the general hire market and we’ve got a concrete pump and a couple of trucks as well so like I’ve said, we can turn our hand to most projects,” he said.

Cooma Cranes have been members of The Crane Industry Council of Australia (CICA) since the early 2000’s says Bottom.

“As far as we are concerned, we receive numerous benefits being a member of CICA. They keep us up to date with the changes that are happening to our industry. We are kept informed on the various industry issues CICA is working on, what’s happening with the various standards, regulations and certifications and what’s new in the different areas we need to be across in our business. CICA provides the opportunity for companies like ours to keep our finger on the industry’s pulse,” he said.

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