We report this month that seven small UK crane rental companies have joined together to offer a nationwide service. This way they can attract the calibre of corporate accounts that only the really big crane hire companies in the UK can reach.

This strategy sounds like a great way to take on the big guns of the crane hire world.

Although sums were not disclosed, startup costs are probably not huge – a telephone box that routes numbers depending on their origin – provided that your country’s telephone network can carry that information. The network should not take much maintenance time, either. Once a call is routed, it becomes the responsibility of a single member, just like any other business.

What it does require is not necessarily expensive, but is definitely not cheap: trust. Without a hierarchy of control over the companies – as there would be over crane depots in a large crane hire company – trust binds the members together.

In an interview, Alec Glover said that the seven members gained each other’s trust by meeting and talking. Today they field enquiries from four corporate clients.

Last month marked the six-month anniversary of a German association of heavy hauliers and special transport companies, called BigMove. ‘Constant communication makes the knowledge about the other BigMover’’s competencies grow. With every cooperative project, trust with other BigMove members grows,’ it said.

The formation of groups like these shows how it can help even small companies to meet colleagues and competitors and find a way to work together. Together, a group of small companies can win orders they never would have as individual companies.