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Thinking outside the square

Patterson Crane Hire recently took delivery of another crane from Gleason Crane Sales and Rentals. Laurie Patterson has been buying cranes from Chris Logan for years and credits him as being an industry innovator.

Patterson’s interest in cranes began when he was working in his family agricultural business and the neighbour had a crane business.

“I was working in my family farming business and I enjoyed helping the neighbour with his cranes to a point where I bought an old crane, fixed it up and sub-contracted to him part time. The crane was a Coles 1012, a 12t capacity crane. I worked with him off and on for about two years and then in 1991 a local crane company come up for sale and I bought it. I couldn’t afford to buy the cranes but I bought the phone number and the company name which was Coastal Crane Hire.

“To this day, the business has the same phone number and we were able to capitalise on the fact that the previous owner had a good business and sound reputation. We upgraded the crane with a 20t capacity model a year later and we gradually introduced Patterson Crane Hire as the company name whilst keeping the same phone number and as I’ve said, which we’ve had for the past 32 years,” said Patterson.

Patterson has always thought a little differently about the crane industry and this has been reflected in the way he has evolved Patterson Crane Hire.

“Because we are based on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne, one of Victoria’s playground we have a number of high profile clients including Daryl Somers, Steve Vizard, the Fox family and football coaches including like Alistair Clarkson,” he said.

“The work is mainly focused on the development of their properties. We’ve put in concrete tanks for Steve Vizard, we’ve done everything from lifting sculptures, irrigation tanks and sheds for Daryl Somers. We’ve completed lifts on the boat sheds for the Fox Family and helped build their new house. Alistair Clarkson is building at the moment and we’re shifting shipping containers for him. We’ve also worked on TV shows including House Rules and Get Away.

“I have never aimed for Patterson Crane Hire to be a big crane hire company but it was always meant to be one of the best crane companies. We haven’t been chasing volume work we’ve been after quality, that’s what we’ve always chased and that’s what we have.

“We’re not scared to spend money on the right gear for the job. In some instances, we’ll buy gear for ‘one off’ jobs and put it into storage, but we know we have it. We also understand that we might not make any money the first time we use that piece of equipment but once we have it, we will make it up on the second and third time we use it. An example is spreader bars which we’ll buy for a ‘one off job’ we’ll use it and then store it carefully and then we’ve always got it. I don’t like to hire equipment, I like to own it. We have had a working relationship with Buchanan Crane Hire for over 20 years as they have different cranes to us helping fill the gaps with the work on the Mornington Peninsula,” said Patterson.

Patterson explains a bit about the fleet he operates and provides an insight into the way he views the mix of cranes.

“In my fleet I have a 40t capacity Liebherr, a 15t Franna, a 13t ‘bubble’ and I’ve just purchased a 30t capacity Demag AC 30 which has been sourced by Chris Logan at Gleason Cranes. This will be the second of these cranes we’ve owned. We had the first of these in Australia, but we sold it and we’ve kicked ourselves for selling it. Now we’ve re-purchased another, newer model.

“We’ve also got a Jekko mini crawler crane, which was the first into the country four and a half years ago. We also introduced the first track carrier into Australia and we are the first to bring in the Jekko glass manipulators. We’re always been thinking a little outside the square. We had the first remote controlled crane in Australia, we’ve won a couple of awards with CICA’s Lift of the Year for jobs we’ve completed. We’ve been successful because we’ve been innovative,” he said.

Logan and Patterson have been doing business with each other for many years. Patterson credits Logan for his initiative when it comes to sourcing innovative cranes.

“Because I’ve always thought and operated outside the square, on occasions I’ve seen the mainstream crane dealers and OEMs have been reluctant to do what we want. I’ve worked with Chris to bring in product that doesn’t meet the usual criteria. He’ll do the homework for me and advise if we can get it on the road here, confirm that it’s going to be compliant and work, or not to worry about it all.

“I go back to Gleason Cranes as a bit of a sounding board because he will tell me if a purchase is a viable proposition and confirm if we can or can’t get one into the country. I’ve dealt with Chris for 25 years, and over that time I’ve bought four cranes through him and some of these have been outside the square. That’s why I have used his services, mainly because the main-stream dealers and OEMs won’t do it. As an example, he sourced a 40t capacity Liebherr with remote control, ” said Patterson.

Patterson explains more about the service from the team at Gleason Cranes and how Logan and his team, work through their international network of used equipment dealers to find the right crane.

“Chris will work with his network to firstly find the crane. He then manages its importation and the shipping. He retrieves the crane from quarantine, takes it to his yard and ensures it is Australian compliant. He has it CraneSafe approved, has the crane painted and registered for use on Victorian roads.

“In my opinion, Gleason Cranes have been an innovator for the crane industry. There are people that knock him but he was the first guy to bring the ‘Bubble’ cranes into Australia and if it wasn’t for him, we probably wouldn’t have them here today,” said Patterson.

“Chris saw the opportunity and the potential for them years ago and we’ve all bought them. Then the mainstream OEMs and manufacturers saw that they were working and jumped on board but Chris had done the groundwork. He’s fairly unique in that sense, he not scared to have a crack at bringing something in. This is the second city crane I’ve bought from Chris.

“Chris has his critics, I’ve heard them, but there are a lot of cranes running around here which the OEMs wouldn’t have bothered bringing in unless they knew there was a market. Those markets have been created because Chris took the gamble to bring the cranes in and sell them to create the market,” he said.

Logan has been responsible for creating demand for various types of cranes over the years.

“The mainstream dealers and OEMs have seen Chris bring in various types of different cranes and then see there is demand and a market for them and then decided to bring them in. I view Chris as a genuine pace setter, he’s been innovative with his approach to the market and the others are only just catching up with him.

“He’s not scared to bring something new into the market, knowing it’s a gamble and it might work or it might not. We bought an original RK 70 from Chris, and we could see Kobleco was never going to bring one into the country. I reckon there are probably 500 of those machines running around Australia now.

“We had the first remote controlled crane in Australia, we’ve won a couple of awards with the CICA Lift of the Year for jobs we’ve completed. We’ve been successful because we’ve been innovative,” said Patterson.


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