70 years20 June 2019
Dutch crane hire firm Nederhoff celebrates seven decades in the lifting business this year. Hans van Vliet, one of the company's project engineers, described its origins and history to Will North.
Nederhoff was established in 1949 with a simple idea from founder Kees Nederhoff. In the Gouda region, there were many small tree nurseries, which used dung and other materials shipped on small barges. Each of these had a small crane which Nederhoff realised could be fitted to ex-army trucks.
This combination could simplify the discharge of sand and gravel from the ships of his father, a trader in sand and gravel.
Unloading these ships was then done by hand, using a conveyor belt and shovels. Nederhoff's idea was that using cranes could speed the process.
But the elder Nederhoff was sceptical a truck crane could be built that wouldn't tip, and refused to back the plan. Instead, Nederhoff's wife's family invested in the business, and he worked with local blacksmith Fransens to build the crane, using a winch from SAS.
Slowly the company grew by purchasing its own (ex-army) tippers and received requests to use the cranes for other jobs.
Ex-army cranes were bought and mounted on ex-army trucks and then the first crawler crane was purchased, bought from army surplus.
Lifting became more and more the mainstay of the company. The first 'real' cranes designed for lifting were British-made Coles cranes with strut jib booms.
But for Nederhoff it quickly became clear that telescopic cranes were the future. He bought the first 45t telescopic crane in Holland, the first 100-tonner, 200-tonner, 400-tonner and, finally, in 1999 the first 650-tonner worldwide.
This 650t Demag was developed in cooperation with Nederhoff's four sons, Pieter, twins Jan and Kees, and Ron, who had taken over the company in 1988.
They had decided, like their father before, that the biggest crane then on the market—at that time a 500t nine-axle—was not a good investment, when bigger could be built.
As well as investing in, and helping develop, larger mobile cranes, the Nederhoff brothers invested in 12 axle lines of modular trailers: at that time an unusual move for a company of this size. With two heavy cranes, a large amount of extra equipment such as slings, spreaders etc. they could handle almost every task.
In the late 90s, the brothers supported Leo Spierings, as he developed the first truck-mounted tower crane, with elder brother Pieter, a skilled engineer, helping design a compact, roadable, carrier.
The company was an also early supporter of telecrawlers, which were popular due to Holland's soft ground.
In 2005, working over an increasingly wide area, the brothers realised they needed to broaden their coverage. They bought the well known Van Genderen family business, based in Vlamen, in Utrecht province, closer to the middle of the Netherlands.
The company slowed investment during the crisis, focusing on replenishment. More recently, its focus has been on long boom cranes. It supports each job with a dedicated project engineer, working as the customers point of contact, and solving all their planning need.