Manitowoc Crane Group has unveiled plans for Manitowoc Potain Singapore PTE Ltd as a first step in its global integration with Potain.

Manitowoc’s purchase of the French tower crane manufacturer Potain became final in May. The Manitowoc Potain Singapore business operation will be the first to combine the sales and services structures of the two companies in one market. The resulting organisation will provide sales and support for both Manitowoc’s lattice-boom crawler cranes and Potain’s tower cranes.

The Singapore market integration is likely to be a model for how other markets will be integrated in the future, said Larry Weyers, Manitowoc Crane Group senior vice president of sales and marketing.

“We chose to begin our integration of the companies in Asia because our companies had very similar business operations there,” Weyers said. “In addition, with the strengths of our two companies added together, we see strong opportunities to grow in the Asian economies.” Under the plan, the Manitowoc Potain operation will be headquartered in Singapore, with sales, service and administrative functions located there. The office will also manage divisions in China, Korea, Australia and the Philippines.

As part of the restructuring, the sales and service of crane products in Asia is changing from distributor-based to factory direct. All of Manitowoc’s and Potain’s employees will be located in a new headquarters.

Eric Etchart, managing director for all Potain operations in Asia including the Chinese manufacturing facility, will become the director of the Asia Pacific Region for Manitowoc Potain.

“It’s going to be very beneficial for Manitowoc products because the trend right now is to market products directly. Customers will like to work directly with Manitowoc and Potain,” Etchart said.

Etchart said that Manitowoc cranes should find growth particularly in China despite the current softness in the Asian economy. Potain’s experience and contacts in China should help increase sales of Manitowoc’s lattice crawler cranes. There are presently 350 Manitowoc lattice-boom crawler cranes working in Asia.

The recent awarding of the 2008 Olympics is fueling great optimism in the region, Etchart said.

“It’s going to be very exciting. The new Manitowoc-Potain organisation in Singapore should have an immediate impact in China,” he said.

The new Asian regional organisation should be staffed and operating in its new configuration within the next few months.

Weyers said the combination of Manitowoc’s and Potain’s organisations in Asia reinforced the fit of the two crane makers together as a global partner offering broad lattice-boom lifting products.

“Bringing Potain into the Manitowoc family was nearly a perfect fit. With most of our business in North America and most of Potain’s business in Europe, we are finding we can partner almost without overlapping at all,” Weyers said.