Boom validation: Skyjack's Dave Stewart talks to Murray Pollok

15 April 2008

Skyjack's new SJ40T boom. A with–jib 45T model is also available.

Skyjack's new SJ40T boom. A with–jib 45T model is also available.

As the first production versions of Skyjack's new telescopic booms arrive on sites in North America, Murray Pollok talks to the company's Dave Stewart about the new range, and plans for other products.

Visitors to last year's Rental Show may remember seeing a pre–production model of Skyjack's new SJ40T telescopic boom. Full production for this and the sister 40T model was then scheduled for the third quarter of 2006, a deadline that was missed by a few months.

“We had some significant component supply issues, the same as everyone else,” says Dave Stewart, Skyjack's vice president of sales and marketing. “Major components took longer. The good news was that we got more time for product validation.”

The first trickle of deliveries actually started in November 2006, and ALH understands that by the end of 2006 the numbers in active service werein the double figures. Stewart, although clearly happy that Skyjack's long–time aim to return to booms has finally become a reality, downplays the impact on sales the booms will have, at least initially.

“We' re not going to be aggressive on market share,” he says. “We expect it to be low in year one – it will be the validation year – and 2008 will be the fleet year.” He won't be drawn on production targets, but says 2007 will see “several hundred” machines enter the market.

Following on from the 40 and 45 telescopic models there will be 60 and 65 foot versions, available sometime this year (although not ready for the Rental Show in Atlanta in February 2007), and also two articulated models, the 45 foot SJ45A articulated boom and 30NE narrow electric industrial–type boom, being developed concurrently. The ultimate aim is to be a full–line boom manufacturer, something that Stewart says will take more than two years to achieve.

The design brief for the machines hasn't changed since the pre–launch at the start of 2006, which means booms that are easy to use, simple to maintain, and robust and reliable. “We' re sticking with a simple system,” Stewart says. “We' ve left multiplex controls out of the machines, and it's been extremely well received. We' ve had some sight unseen orders just because of that.” The axle drive system is similarly straightforward.

Something that isn't straightforward, of course, is the economy. Is now the right time to be entering the boom market, just when it seems that the AWP market is peaking? Stewart says Skyjack is looking at another good year in 2007, with a slowdown coming in 2008 or 2009. However, it is a new market for Skyjack, so “even in a softening market, we will still be growing production capacity,” he points out.

Skyjack isn't content to leave it at booms and scissors, and Stewart confirms that other products are on the agenda, with telehandlers top of the pile. “Our intention is to branch out into as many other products as we can see that fits our portfolio,” he says. “Telehandlers are logical…that will be the next project after booms.”

Skyjack could develop its own design or buy one from an existing manufacturer, and not necessarily one in North America. He says, “We will explore all opportunities.”

First priority, though, is the booms. “The plan is to be full range,” he says, “as quickly as possible.”

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