Western wonder

By Alex Dahm14 January 2009

Potain luffer at work in Perth, Australia

Potain luffer at work in Perth, Australia

Former New Zealander Gino DeCesare founded D&G Hoist and Crane Hire back in September 1998 with long-time friend David Keating. The pair started out with a self-erecting Potain HD-40 tower crane, offering a maximum capacity of 4 tonnes and a 35 m jib.

Since then the company has increased its turnover to about AU$ 35 million (US$30.4 million) and has 89 employees. D&G Hoist's success is based on the constant investment of new cranes and selling machines that are more than five years old. In this way, they have been successful in keeping overheads and maintenance costs to a minimum, while supplying their customers with the latest cranes that are no more than 2.5 years old. Due to the young age of the fleet the cranes have very little downtime.

Potain appointed D&G as its official importer for Western Australia (WA) 10 years ago and the company recently sold its 100th crane. Seventy of these cranes are owned and operated by D&G itself, while 20 of them were sold directly to their customers along with additional services. They include servicing, erection and dismantling and, in some cases, supplying the operator. Some 10 cranes have been sold outside Australia, with one of them going to the Maldives.

Competitive

D&G is also the authorised Potain distributor for Australia's Northern Territories. Initially, Potain supplied the familiar hammerhead tower cranes to Australia but, to be competitive with local tower crane manufacturing giant Favco, D&G also offers luffing jib tower cranes.

Favco continues to produce mainly diesel driven tower cranes, while Potain models are fully electric. In cases where the main power supply is not sufficient, D&G can provide diesel generators. Electric cranes have less environmental impact at the point of use and are gradually becoming more popular. Main advantages are less noise and pollution, no refuelling is needed and there is less maintenance, according to D&G.

The most popular Potain tower cranes in the D&G fleet include the MR-615; MCR-225, with a 14 tonne capacity and 55 m jib that can lift 2.15 tonnes at the tip; and the MR-295 H-20, with a 60 m jib and 20 tonne lift capacity.

Big share

Gino DeCesare estimates that the company has an 80 to 90% share of the Perth tower crane rental market and claims it is the biggest of its kind in Western Australia. D&G's main competitor is Perth-based Toms Cranes, which operates Favco towers.

The utilisation rate of D&G's rental fleet is about 80% with average rental periods ranging from 8 to 24 months per unit, DeCesare says. In addition to the Potain dealership, D&G has a licence for Preston work platforms and has between 50 and 60 units. The company also imports concrete buckets from Italy as an additional service.

A major contributor to D&G's success is the hands-on approach of DeCesare and Keating. Their goal is to supply the best service to their clients and keep the cranes running. This explains why so many luffing jib cranes are now used in Perth, with their advantage over hammerhead cranes. In constructing high-rise buildings with a limited site area, the luffing jib can access narrow spaces between buildings more easily then a hammerhead tower crane.

Expansion

In 2003 Keating and DeCesare acquired mobile crane rental business Northern Suburbs Crane Hire to meet the increasing need to erect and dismantle their own rental tower cranes.

The D&G philosophy has been incorporated into Northern Suburbs, with old cranes being sold off and replaced with the newest and latest Grove and Terex Demag models. Again, this approach means low overheads, low maintenance costs and satisfied customers, DeCesare explains.

Northern Suburbs' 16-strong fleet includes a 220 tonne capacity Grove GMK6220, a 160 tonne Demag AC 160-2, two 130 tonne capacity Grove GMK5130s, three 80 tonne Demag AC 80s, two 55 tonne Grove GMK3055s, a 130 tonne Grove GMK5130-2, a 100 tonne Grove GMK-4100, a 55 tonne Tadano and three Australian manufactured Franna pick-and-carry cranes. The largest and newest addition to the fleet is a new 350 tonne capacity Terex Demag AC 350 all terrain.

Prices of machinery have drastically increased, says DeCesare. "Two years ago we bought a 15 tonne Franna pick and carry crane for AU$200,000 (US$175,000), now that same crane is costing AU$300,000 (US$262,000)."

Despite the price increases, Northern Suburbs Crane Hire replaced all it cranes with new ones in the three years from 2003 to 2006, creating a fleet with an average age of two years, which is based at the company yard in Malaga, just north of Perth.

Transport services for Keating and DeCesare's equipment are subcontracted to local transport companies but, the author speculates, the next phase of expansion could see D&G Hoist & Crane Hire adding a transport division in the near future.

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