With a renewed focus on bringing youngsters into the business, renewing the crane fleet and expanding operations, Two Way Cranes Managing Director, Frank Zammit is happy with where the business is currently sitting.
“We’ve recently introduced some youngsters into the business. I refer to them as the next generation and we have had success pairing them with experienced crew members, where they can watch, listen and be mentored on the job.
“On the radio, they listen and watch the operator work with the crew and really understand what is happening. This is how I learned. It’s a hands-on approach and a very important aspect to their training, not just sitting in a classroom learning from a textbook.
“I think this approach is more practical than theory. Theory can only give you a basic cover, but the practical experience on site provides you with life experience of what the industry is really all about. For me and my teams, that’s better training and I’m a prime example of it and so are many other in the industry,” said Frank.
“We just had another youngster start and he’s a motor mechanic. He’s done his trade and now he wants to get into the crane industry. I said, “Go get your Dogging and Rigging tickets and we’ll put you through a training program here,” he said.
Frank explains how the experienced team members are responding to the training and mentoring of the new generation.
“We are handpicking the experienced guys for the mentoring roles and the response has been really good. Take Dylan Ross for example, he just walked into the yard one day, scaffolder by trade and was just happy and enthusiastic from the start. The response out in the yard to him has been unbelievable.
“One of my experienced Franna drivers said, “Mate, I want to work with this bloke, he helps me really enjoy my job, and I love showing him what needs to be done and how we do it at Two Way Cranes.” The operator has had a boost in his confidence, and he is enjoying the job more because of Dylan’s personality and positive approach to everything. When you see him, he’s just smiling,” said Frank.
Jason Jordan has been in the crane industry for 18 years. Over this time, he has held various roles within a number of Sydney’s leading crane hire companies before joining Frank Zammit and Two Way Cranes six years ago. His job title might be Allocator but watching Jason at work, it is quite apparent he is the focal point of the business, central to everything that happens every day, and night.
Jason talks about his role at Two Way Cranes.
“Job titles don’t mean much to me, I’m just here to help Frank run Two Way Cranes”.
Jason spends his working day managing an ever-changing schedule of customer bookings, crane movements and ensuring the right personnel move with the cranes.
“It’s like you have a huge mental jigsaw puzzle in your head and you are constantly moving the pieces to ensure you have the right ones in place at any given time. We operate a tracking system, so you can see at a glance where everything is and when you get an urgent job, you are on the phone to the crews giving them the instructions so as soon as they finish the job they are on, they are onto the next,” he said.
Jason discusses one major frustration he faces on a day to day basis.
“I couldn’t count how many inductions the crews do, it’s a major issue for the industry. As a business we absorb the costs and make the crews available which leaves us short. Then we find certain personnel are inducted on certain sites, cranes are inducted on certain projects, it’s an ongoing issue and gets very difficult that way. You could spend a couple of hours juggling things around just to make it all happen, it’s very time consuming. And unlike the good old days, every builder and project have a different set of requirements” he said.
During his six years, Jason has seen a lot of change within the Two Way Cranes business
“When I started working with Frank, we had between 25 and 30 crew and around 14 cranes. Today we have a fleet of 47 cranes and our team is in excess of 100. I’ve had a couple of people in here to help over the years, but the pressure of the job isn’t for everyone. Personally, I don’t look at
it as pressure, it’s more of a puzzle
that has be solved every day. We just make it happen,” he said.
“Sometimes it is logistically impossible and we can’t help that, but most of the time, it takes a bit of effort and patience, and everything goes to plan, and we make it happen,” said Jason.
“We’re not only just managing the yard, we also have to manage the information from the supervisors, manage what cranes are going where and what’s on site and what’s not on site, anything to resolve the situation,” he said.
“Sometimes you got to be an open ear for the crews in the yard, as well. We are mindful that this type of work can be stressful, there can be long hours, which can lead to difficulties in relationships and that type of thing. So, we are always here to listen and to make sure everyone is OK, and if they are not, they have the confidence to put their hand up and say so,” said Jason.
Frank goes on to explain that young women have also come forward and expressed an interest in working in the industry.
“Riarna Anderson who we had working within the office, showed a genuine interest in getting her Dogging ticket, now she is working and learning on the cranes I have at Garden Island and the customers couldn’t be happier with her. “
Frank goes on to discuss the Wollongong operation and how it
has been performing.
“The Wollongong operation is starting to move and is gaining some really good traction. We opened the yard almost early two years ago and for the first 15 months, it was chugging along. But today it really has some traction.
“I was in the yard for a toolbox in late September and we have 11 full time employees, and it really feels like a crane yard now. I haven’t been spending much time there as I’ve got Scott Slender who is the allocator and Sash Vujic the project manager running it and they are doing a really terrific job.
“We brought some new employees on board, and they are all locals, and we are getting people approach us and wanting to join the operation,” he said.
“There are eight cranes permanently based in the yard and I feel like we need more. I’m going to put a dolly crane down there. We’ve already got a 250t all terrain, so we’ve got a solid base. There’s a Franna AT40 permanently based there as well. I’ve got another two AT40s on order. We probably need another 40t and 60t capacity all terrains there as well. So yes, it’s taken almost two years, but the Wollongong operation is self-sufficient,” said Frank.
Frank goes onto discuss the Sydney operation.
“The Sydney operation is headed in the right direction. Anyone that knows me, understands I am very focused on the Two Way Cranes’ brand and everything it stands for and we are seeing that the brand getting noticed.
“We are getting comments from new customers saying they see Two Way Cranes branded utes or a Two Way crane, or a truck. Everyone sees Two Way everywhere. Again, when I hear this I smile. I guess I love doing what I’m doing,” said Frank.
The Two Way Cranes’ Sydney operation is growing not only from the recruiting of trainees but it is also attracting experienced crane staff as well.
“The good thing about the business today is we’ve been receiving enquiries from ex Gillespie Cranes employees. Some of them left prior to me purchasing the business, or they decided not to come across to Two Way after the purchase.
“Well, they are coming back. Recently we had five ex Gillespies employees join us and that’s a big positive for the business, I feel. They’ve been watching what’s happening, they have been talking to the existing guys, they went off to try something different and now they’re willing to come back. I’m wrapped with that,” said Frank.
Frank goes on to discuss how he
is expanding the Two Way Cranes fleet with new purchases.
“As I mentioned we have another two Franna AT40s on the way and there will be another two arriving next year, that’ll be six in total. In October we receive a new 150t capacity Liebherr. The new Grove, long boom XL, is ready for shipping and that should be ready for delivery in November or December,” he said.
Frank goes on to explain what he likes about the Franna AT40.
“I just like the fact that they are strong lifters. You don’t have to put counterweight on them and when get to site you start working. When you’ve got to put the Superlift on the smaller capacity Franna, it takes time to set up then you’ve got to pack up, and customers don’t want it. They say, ‘just give me the AT40’.
“We’ve also seen a change in the approach from customers. Because they can see how much time the AT40 saves, call ups have gone up”.
“These are interesting times and in the back of my mind there are nagging doubts about the economy. What’s going to happen with interest rates climbing to curb inflation. But I still don’t see it slowing down with spend out there,” said Frank.
“With the amount of infrastructure planned for the airport, for example, this has got to continue. There’s still significant construction to come with the planned metropolis which is going to be huge. You can’t have a new international airport with nowhere to go. This means there’s a lot of infrastructure to go in and it’s all in my backyard,” he said.
“I feel really positive. As I’ve said, I have good people around me. It’s been hard work, but we are here now.”