Chris Grower was stuck - literally and figuratively. His truck outfitted with a 167-ft. (51 m) National crane was frequently getting mired in the sand and mud that are common in northeast Florida. The owner operator of Grower Crane Service Inc. was spending too much of his time digging out of the loose soil conditions when erecting outdoor signs and planting utility poles.
“I had this crane mounted on a 6 by 6, which, as I found out too often, wasn’t satisfactory to handle the crane,” Grower said. “A crane that size is hard on a truck, and I needed more traction than I could get from a standard truck.”
Grower approached dealers looking for a truck that could meet his needs, including:
• An 8 by 8 all-wheel drive.
• Triple frame.
• The biggest tires he could get “and still be street legal,” Grower said.
• A 500-hp. (373 kW) engine that had enough muscle to pull the rig’s weight and extract the truck from soft ground conditions.
• A heavy-duty drive train and clutch and an 18-speed transmission.
Grower went to Moody Truck Center Inc., the Kenworth dealership in Jacksonville, FL, and discovered that Kenworth was the only truck manufacturer that offered an existing 8 by 8 conventional configuration through its C500.
“As for the other components I needed, the vast majority of requirements could be handled when they were submitted to Kenworth’s engineering department. Kenworth does more custom engineering work than other manufacturers I found and was willing to build with my specs,” he said. “Their customer service was excellent.”
Grower uses his C500, equipped with twin-steer and drive front axle, and 40,000-lb. (18,144 kg) crane to hoist roof trusses, commercial air conditioning units and outdoor signs. His trucks have lifted jet engines off airplanes and boats in and out of the water at marinas. He also has been called to set a car on a restaurant roof.
“Running a Kenworth gives us the mobility that other crane services don’t have,” Grower said. “They call us to get them unstuck. With my Kenworth, I can go 70 mi. an hour on the freeway in total comfort and drive to sandy job sites with a lot of confidence that I won’t get bogged down. They stand up to the heavy wear and tear that comes with carrying a crane.”
Grower drove long haul trucks in the U.S. and Canada for four years, but he always intended to start a crane business of his own. “I grew up around the sign business and worked with local sign companies before I did the over the road trucking,” he said. “I worked with cranes and that was the part I liked best. I’ve always liked heavy equipment and trucks.”
In 1993, he started with a truck and a boom and now operates a second truck with a 95-ft. (29 m) crane, in addition to the C500.
Kenworth Truck Company, a division of PACCAR Inc, is a manufacturer of heavy- and medium-duty trucks.
For more information, visit www.www.kenworth.com.