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Atlantic Coast Cranes Prospers in Both Good, Bad Economies

Tue August 03, 2004 - Southeast Edition
Jennifer Conway



T.S. Elliot once wrote: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” For Wally Jones, founder and current president of Ashland, VA-based Atlantic Coast Cranes & Machinery Inc. (ACC), this philosophy could not resonate more true.

In 1991, Jones, along with long-time colleague Dennis Samuel, rented a small office and started the fledgling crane dealership with two lines –– American Crane products and JLG boom trucks.

The inherit risk in the business was not its initial undertaking but rather such a green company staying afloat in questionable times. In the early 1990s, after many years of rapid growth in the highway, commercial and industrial construction sectors, the industry bottomed out, leaving many contractors struggling financially.

But with a solid dedication to the customer, the company not only survived but grew and is now a full service Terex dealer serving Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia and the Carolinas with parts and service for American, P&H, Lorain, Northwest, Bucyrus-Erie, Koehring, Bantam, R.O. Stinger and Demag.

ACC also is an authorized dealer for Shuttlelift and Straddlelift cranes, noted Jones, and recently delivered a new 150-ton Straddlelift to the I-95 Woodrow Wilson Bridge project and a new Industrial Shuttlelift to the Westinghouse Savannah River Nuclear Plant.

“If you would have told me 13 years ago that we’d be in the same position we’re in today, I don’t know if I would have believed it possible,” said Jones after celebrating the company’s 13th anniversary. “The economic conditions at the time we started were very poor, especially in the crane industry. You just didn’t know what to expect because it was such an unsettling time.

“ACC’s flexibility to changing business conditions has allowed the company to maintain its unique market position in both good and bad times,” he said.

Atlantic Coast Cranes is now celebrating its 13th year as an exclusive crane distributor with sales, parts and service for Terex American, Terex Demag and the rest of the Terex crane family. The company was recently honored –– three out of the past four years –– as the No. 1 dealer worldwide for the American Terex crawler cranes.

“We have delivered over 100 new Terex cranes, 52 of them American Terex hydraulic cranes, in the past 36 months,” said Jones.

Additionally, ACC buys, sells and trades used cranes from its facility. The company offers rent-to-purchase options, and noted Jones, “We anticipate more opportunities for crane rental purchase this year, utilizing the Terex rental fleet and other crawler cranes either owned or to be acquired by the company.”

In the mid-1990s, Jones joined Bill Grubb of W.O Grubb Steel Erection Inc. in Richmond, VA, in starting a remanufacturing process, where 1,000-plus hour cranes were given a complete overhaul and put back into service. Soon after, ACC began attracting customers from all over the country who were interested in extending their cranes’ lives.

“We think it’s a great concept,” Jones said. “It gives the contractor a piece of equipment that is fully warranted and performs as if it were new, yet he has it at a price considerably less than the cost of a brand new crane.”

The company completed remanufacturing a 165-ton 9299 crawler crane last year, noted Jones, “earning a new serial number and a full factory warranty for the customer-owned machine.

“An American 9270, 150-ton crawler and an American 7260, 100-ton crawler were just rebuilt by the same experienced crew that completed the reman project and placed into service on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge recently,” he continued.

Ten years ago, Jones also found success in the import-export business, which the company still maintains “buying and selling machines and parts oversees when currency and business conditions are favorable,” said Jones.

Key to the company’s sustained success over the past decade or so has been its commitment to service. ACC has a 5,000-sq.-ft. shop, which includes three service bays and two overhead cranes as well as five parts and service trucks and three fully equipped road trucks equipped with cranes.

All of the service technicians attend service schools regularly and safety training on a monthly basis. With a parts inventory worth approximately $3 million, the company can turn around a request within 24 hours more than 90 percent of the time.

“Experienced personnel both in sales, parts and the service department add to the strong customer relationships maintained by ACC,” said Jones.

For more information, call 804/798-4500 or visit www.accranes.com.