Queensland Rigging Hire

CICA Member Profile: Queensland Rigging Hire

Queensland Rigging Hire offers an extensive range of lifting and rigging equipment to customers operating in the construction, mining, offshore and crane industries. They stock the highest quality lifting and rigging equipment, which is fully tested and certified to ensure it meets industry requirements and the relevant Australian Standards.

Prior to launching the business in 2017, Ben Fitzgerald was the national sales manager for a lifting equipment wholesale company, and he had been in that role for three years.

“I had people ringing me and asking me for help and advice about various products and I kept referring them to other companies. But they turned out to be unresponsive or couldn’t help and after a while my wife and I decided we should give it a go for ourselves,” he said.

“As the name of the business suggests, we specialise in lifting and rigging equipment particularly equipment like spreader bars, slings, load testing equipment. We’re also the Queensland agent for Unique Seaflex who manufacture a range of water test weights. This is a fairly big feather in our cap, because they are a high-profile corporation and they’ve put their faith in us, so it’s a fantastic achievement,” said Fitzgerald.

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Queensland Rigging Hire covers every bit of rigging gear a client will need between the load, the hook and the crane. As far as the rest of the hire fleet is concerned, Fitzgerald says the company will invest in products to meet industry needs, as well as new technology and dry hire it to customers so they can conduct lifts of all types and sizes safely.

“We started in a small industrial unit and I have to say it was a hard slog to get things off the ground and build momentum, but we stuck to it and the business has grown and we’re travelling well. We’ve focused on substantially building our hire fleet so we can cater to a wider range of projects,” he said.

“We have a close working relationship with all our customers, but this doesn’t involve providing independent advice on lifts. Our customers are heavy lift specialists and almost all of them are engineers. They detail what they want and specify what is required for a lift and we in turn offer what they specify, or similar, and let them decide. We don’t get involved in the lift plans or lift studies, that’s not our role, we supply the equipment they require,” said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald reminds himself and his staff about the importance of safety.

“We work in a high-risk industry as most things associated with cranes and lifting have an element of risk and I have to remind my staff and myself what these are. We take the required steps and measures to ensure everything we supply complies to Australian Standards as well as adhering to specific site standards. This has probably been the biggest reason for our growth, because a lot of other suppliers are unable to provide the same level of documentation as us,” he said.

“That’s where we come into our own. We are able to deal with the major contractors like Lend Lease and CPB because our certifications meet the levels they require. Relevant areas of equipment in the hire fleet are certified by NATA. We supply equipment that is compliant to the standards and it’s regularly maintained, through our internal maintenance program and testing procedures. Our equipment can be supplied for a one-off lift or for an extended period and everything is inspected before it goes out and also on return. If something needs repairing, we’ll send it to the appropriate repairer,” Fitzgerald said.

Queensland Rigging services clients all over Queensland and northern New South Wales.

“We’ve done a significant amount of work on the Ballina to Woolgoolga Pacific Highway upgrade, a lot of work on bridges and we had equipment on the recent Grafton Bridge project which was a runner up in CICA’s Lift of the Year. It’s our job to know and understand what the industry needs. We deal with Project Managers and Engineers and crane hire companies – they give us feed-back on what they need, and we purchase our equipment based on that information,” said Fitzgerald.

Commitment to service and going the extra mile for the customer are keys to the success of the business, says Fitzgerald.

“We’re a family business and passionate about what we do. I’ve realised that customers use us, not only for our products, but because we are service driven. We create value by providing excellent service. When you are told by a customer, ‘we need your help’, we step up immediately. I’ve driven over night to Moranbah in Central Queensland and Muswellbrook in New South Wales because I said we would be there with the gear the customer urgently required. When we arrive, the customer is happy and knows we’ve made the effort to get there and they can continue with the project without any costly delays. That’s what it’s all about,” he said.

According to Fitzgerald, CICA has been great for Queensland Rigging Hire, with the various forums providing opportunities to meet with the industry.

“CICA has been terrific in providing us with opportunities to meet our industry, to understand how the industry is changing and what the big construction companies are looking to do. There’s no substitute for having everyone together, talking about projects and equipment and spending time with the people at the forefront. They are making decisions that will impact on the future of our industry. The big builders set the agendas which impact on the crane hire companies and rigging businesses like us,” he said.

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CICA President’s report: Collaboration through passion

“Collaboration” and “Industry Passion” are two key CICA values on permanent display at our annual conference. This year, the crane industry came to life in NSW’s Hunter Valley region during October as the conference was hosted with a theme celebrating “40 Years On”. It was 40 years since the inaugural conference at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast in 1979. Remarkably, we were blessed with a handful of attendees in 2019 who attended way back then, and they showed just as much charisma as I’m sure they did at the very first event all those years ago.

This year’s program was first class, with 420 delegates at the Crown Plaza conference centre being the perfect backdrop to keep everything and everyone close by. It’s a great convenience for our annual conferences to have a crane display so close to the event, allowing all to admire some new acquisitions by local hirers.

I would like to congratulate Jeff Wilson, the NSW chair, and his conference committee, along with the CICA office and the staff of Wise Connections for delivering a fabulous event in a boutique wine region without compromising any facet of the program.

The conference program opened with a keynote address, and we were all intrigued by Kurt Fearnley and particularly inspired by his determination to live such a full life, despite his physical disability. The conference hall and technical information sessions were exceptionally professional, well attended and, at times, inspirational. I would like to make particular mention to the manufacturers panel and crane owners’ panel, which have become feature conference events. And for those of you who saw the session dedicated to cyber fraud, I know you are still looking over your shoulder now as it was revealed how our personal data and locations are constantly tracked and recorded via our smartphones.

As a way of celebrating this year’s theme of “40 Years On”, the conference added a further night on the program. Traditionally, the major manufacturers would use this night as an opportunity to attract clients to an exclusive event. This year, however, we had all delegates at the perfect venue to celebrate the theme, complete with line dancing and whip cracking. I was absolutely impressed by this night and hope it is something we can build on for future conferences.

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For some of us, the conference began with the CICA Annual General Meeting (AGM) where we delivered a comprehensive President’s Report and CEO’s Report detailing the financial position of the association. Further information focussing on the many number of programs delivering member benefits throughout the industry, supported and funded by CICA were also presented and discussed at the AGM. For those that missed this session, the information is available on the members-only section on the CICA website under “Resources: Members Documents” in the Members Portal. If you are missing your company’s login details, give the CICA office a call and they will be sure to help out.

Annually, a portion of the board is dissolved, and nominees are called upon to form a new board with the continuing directors. Our constitution governs that every year, three or four (alternately) of the seven elected board members are up for election, as well as any board appointed directors. This year, we received four nominations for the available three board positions.

With our reduced number of elected directors now at a maximum of seven, we regularly see more nominations than positions. Although it is disappointing that not all those willing to contribute will be elected, it is great for our association to have a level of competitiveness to gain a directorship role on the CICA board.

I’d like to congratulate our board members who were successful in being re-elected.  In alphabetical order, Andrew Esquilant, Marcus Ferrari, and myself (Tom Smith) have all retained a board position. The remainder of the board are continuing to serve the second year of their two-year terms. These directors are; Geoff Bevan (re-elected as vice-president), Danny Black, John Gillespie and Bart Sutherland.

Further, I would like to congratulate Ben Pieyre for being appointed by the board as an eighth director. Ben returns to the board after a 12-month absence overseas and is a welcome addition as we strive to further improve our industry programs.

Our association is benefiting from a dedicated team of volunteers on the CICA board. There are dozens of years of experience in serving as CICA directors among the eight representatives, and all are unified in making continuous industry improvements to the benefit
of our members.

I was nominated and re-elected by the board as CICA president for the second year.  It is certainly very humbling to be extended such an endorsement from the CICA board and I certainly look forward to further contributing in the role. With such an abundance of experience on our board, with two past presidents still presiding as directors, I take comfort in the resources I have around me as we all work together with our CEO, Brandon Hitch, to further develop our industry programs.

Many of us still working together at CICA have witnessed the CrewSafe program develop from a board room concept to its current form. It is our vision to deliver a “safe and progressive crane industry”. This program epitomises this vision and has gained national recognition as CICA was awarded the “Best WHS Training Program” for CrewSafe at the 27th Annual National Safety Awards of Excellence. This type of recognition is well deserved as I have the utmost confidence in this program. CrewSafe is poised to deliver us a far more advanced and improved method to verify competence by holding accountable those who are licensed and claim they are competent, to prove they are competent.

Finally, I’d like to mention how enjoyable and uplifting this year’s Gala Awards Dinner was. We had around 450 attendees greeted firstly with drinks and canapes on the lawn before entering the formal dining area. The atmosphere inside was very relaxing and fit perfectly with the entire feel of the conference.

I’d like to congratulate our “Excellence Award” winners being Marcus Rigney, Steve Gonano and Chris Kolodziej. Thank you again for your contributions because you have all worked tirelessly to improve our industry and we are all grateful for your continued effort.

And a special congratulations is reserved for this year’s inductee to the CICA “Hall of Fame”, Jeff Wilson. Jeff has contributed over many years to CICA through the NSW committee, has been a CICA director, and is the current NSW branch chair. Thank you, Jeff and we all welcome you alongside fine company in the Hall of Fame.

Congratulations to all award winners, and again, thank you to all who pledged an entry adding to the depth of quality our industry hirers put forward annually to our marquee event.

We all look forward to the WA conference committee delivering a fabulous conference next year in the newly constructed Perth convention centre.

Goodbye for now and have a safe New Year.