Tough-playing Titan lifts its game

JAZIAL CROSSLEY
Last updated 05:00 13/10/2012

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Family-owned Lower Hutt crane hire company Titan has turned from facing tough times to investing in the biggest mobile crane in the Lower North Island.

Business development manager Bruce Whiley's late father started the Seaview-based business in 1965 with just five cranes that could lift up to 18 tonnes.

It now has 52 cranes with a maximum lift load of 350 tonnes and employs 85 people across its branches in Wellington, New Plymouth, Dunedin and Christchurch.

The new Liebherr LTM1350 mobile crane, worth "millions of dollars", has become the flagship for Titan's fleet of mobile, truck, pick and carry, all terrain and rough terrain cranes.

It will give the company capacity to take on new jobs of a larger scale.

"It is certainly, we believe, the most versatile crane in the Lower North Island. When they get into that size, it usually takes a lot of trucks and equipment to move a crane with that capacity around, but the set-up time and ability to get this around is really good," Whiley said.

One of the huge piece of machinery's first jobs was lifting and setting up an 80-tonne transformer in Wellington, as well as work lifting generators for maintenance work at Palmerston North wind turbines.

"The crane is based in Lower Hutt but we're expecting it to go quite often to New Plymouth working in the oil and gas energy sector and to travel between here and really any job in the lower North Island needing a big crane, because there is nothing else in that range."

Like all businesses linked to construction, Titan has had a tough time in recent years. Around a year ago it divested its Titan Plant Services arm, which had been the New Zealand agent for Volvo trucks and equipment.

"This year, we have bought five new cranes to replenish our fleet and sold off some of the older cranes," Whiley said. "The construction industry has seen quite a dip but we've been quite fortunate with our work in the New Plymouth energy sector. New Plymouth hasn't really had a recession. Wellington is very flat, and looks to stay that way."

The Dunedin branch keeps busy with taxi crane hire jobs, typically short-term jobs, where the cranes are driven to jobs during the day and return to Titan's grounds at night.

In Christchurch, Titan has been working on deconstruction and expects business to stay strong during the rebuild of the city.

"One aspect that has been working very well for us is that we're moving more, moving people and cranes between our branches," Whiley said.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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