Viant Crane

28 February 2012

Viant Crane is a new subsidiary of Reuben Johnson and Son, a family owned construction company run by president and CEO Todd Johnson which was established in the mid 1950’s. Cranes Today spoke to Viant Crane operations manager Nick Minardi.

At the end of 2010 RJS realised we had 16 cranes, and we either needed to be happy with what we had and continue to service ourselves, and maybe some other people if they call, or we needed to take this to the next level and turn this into a crane rental house.

We’re based out of Superior, Wisconsin, and this area demanded a diverse crane rental fleet because there wasn’t one. The closest large rental fleet was six plus hours away, and with that comes a problem of service. If there is an issue with one of our cranes we don’t send you a mechanic, we send you a new crane. That speaks volumes for how we understand and respect their productivity, and the time of our customers’ crews.

I’ve been with Reuben Johnson for six years, as a project manager on the commercial side of the company, and then at the beginning of 2011, I was asked to make the switch and take on Viant Crane. As of January 1st 2011 Viant Crane was launched as a crane rental house for bare rental. We also have a division that specialises in lifting logistics, lift planning and lift engineering.

Viant itself has a total staff of five employees, not including the operators because you can pull operators in from left and right as you need them. We also have some crane staging areas out in North Dakota, in Omaha and Nebraska.

One highlight of our fleet is that our entire fleet is Manitowoc Grove. We value relationships, and we’ve built a good solid one with Manitowoc. They’re a solid name in the industry. For any operator that gets in that seat, a Grove crane is a Grove crane. There are some little eccentricities between each model, but you always know what’s going on, and you don’t have to relearn every time. The other unique characteristic of our fleet through all the models is that everything is less than four years old.

It is a brand new fleet with low hours, and that brings fuel efficiency and productivity onto the job sites.

In 2011 we were ranked 76 out of the top 100 crane fleets in North America, and that was before we purchased eight additional cranes. We now have seven crawlers ranging from 120USt to 300USt, 15 rough terrains, ranging from 30USt to 90USt and two truck cranes, a 45USt TM500 and a 110USt TM9000E.

The 30–60USt RTs are our best selling cranes. They’re easy to transport and the newer models have excellent lift charts, so we really bulked up on the RTs because that’s what’s in demand.

Our largest cranes are two 300t Manitowoc 2250s and we have the ability to put a maxer on them, which takes them to 500t.

With that crane we can serve the wind generation market, petrochemical, refineries, the shipping industry, and in our area one of our biggest industries is the mining industry. Then there are the oil sands of North Dakota.

We tell ourselves that we do a 500-mile radius, but we’ve done business in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, pretty much still the upper Midwest.

But if somebody calls us from Texas or Louisiana and they need a crane, it’s going to go there.

Nick Minardi, operations manager