WE HAVE got 53 cranes ranging from 40t capacity up to 150t, all crawlers. At the moment 30 are hydraulic machines and 23 are mechanical. Our policy is to get rid of 25% of our mechanical machines over the next 12 months and replace them with hydraulics. It’s quite difficult because we are so busy with them.

While a lot of the larger contractors to whom we rent have a policy of using only hydraulics, there are a lot of others who still prefer the mechanical machines. We get involved quite a lot in marine work and there is still demand there for mechanical cranes because of the bulk strength of them.

Over the last 18 months we’ve purchased 20 cranes. It’s like the car business. I don’t think anyone makes a bad car these days, and no one makes a bad crane. But a combination of ease of maintenance, product support and price has made us choose Japanese – Hitachi, IHI and Kobelco. We buy a mix of new and used, but nothing more than two years old. My aim is to have a balanced fleet to meet fluctuating demand. We are really busy with 50t and 60t cranes this year but last year I could have done with another dozen 80 tonners to satisfy the market.

Our target is to make a minimum return on capital of 20% which so far we have managed to achieve.

Interviewed by Phil Bishop