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Shawmut Equipment Company Marks Golden Anniversary

Wed December 26, 2007 - Northeast Edition
James A. Merolla

Fifty years. It’s called the Golden Anniversary, but for Shawmut Equipment Company Inc., iron and steel have been the most remarkable metals.

Shawmut Equipment Company Inc. has been providing New England construction firms with quality heavy-lifting equipment for half a century. Shawmut Equipment represents The Manitowoc Crane Group, including Manitowoc crawler cranes, Grove mobile hydraulic cranes, Grove GMK all-terrain cranes, National boom trucks and Potain self-erecting cranes throughout New England. Shawmut Equipment has full sales, rental, parts and service facilities at 20 Tolland Turnpike in Manchester, Conn., and 228 Dedham St., Norfolk, Mass.

Founded in 1957

George J. O’Connell founded Shawmut Equipment Company Inc. in 1957. The now third-generation crane distributor attributes much of its success to its strong relationships with customers, vendors and employees.

“We could have never succeeded over the last five decades without the loyalty of our customers, our relationships with our suppliers and the dedication of our employees,” said Shawmut President David O’Connell.

His company has come a long way since 1957, when his father, the founder of Shawmut Equipment, purchased the building and property of a former International truck distributor in Manchester.

George O’Connell opened his doors as a distributor of Lorain cranes. He had previously worked as the equipment manager for F.H. McGraw Company in Hartford, Conn., and brought years of heavy equipment experience to the new business.

In 1963, the company entered into an agreement with Grove Worldwide to become one of the hydraulic crane manufacturer’s first distributors, starting in Connecticut and western Massachusetts.

In the late 1960s, O’Connell’s son, David, entered the business and a few years later, Shawmut Equipment became a dealer for the American Hoist and Derrick Company’s lattice boom cranes.

In 1978, David became president of the company and then his father became chairman of the board. Founder George O’Connell passed away in 1989.

Six years later, in 1995, the Manitowoc Co. of Manitowoc, Wis., approached Shawmut with the opportunity to become a distributor of Manitowoc crawler cranes, making Shawmut the exclusive Manitowoc dealer for the six New England states.

It also was in the 1990s that Grove Worldwide agreed to expand Shawmut’s territory to those same six states. In the late 1990s, to better serve its customers during a period of extensive growth, Shawmut opened a second full-service site in Norfolk.

O’Connell’s sons, Brian and Kevin, joined the family business a few years ago. David’s nephew, Joseph Vergoni, joined the business shortly thereafter.

In 2002, Manitowoc bought Grove Worldwide and the merger formed one of the world’s largest crane manufacturing companies.

Continuing Its Mission

Today, Shawmut continues its mission to bring the highest quality cranes and highest levels of product support to its customers.

Both the Norfolk and Manchester facilities have large parts and equipment inventories and employ factory-trained crane service technicians.

Loyal, Talented Employees

Shawmut takes pride in its many loyal and long-term employees. Vice President Tom Rustico joined the company as a sales representative some 26 years ago. His wealth of product knowledge and many long-term relationships in the industry have been a boon for Shawmut.

Brian O’Connell, Kevin O’Connell and Joe Vergoni also serve as vice presidents and sales representatives for their family business. Service Manager Peter Bonzani and Assistant Service Manager Pete Zboray run that department. Together, the two Petes share several decades of experience in the field.

Shawmut’s longtime former service manager Perry Mason (now in the warranty department) joined the business in 1968 and will celebrate his 40th anniversary there next year.

The company’s strong reputation hinges on its many dedicated and talented technicians who are sent regularly to training at Manitowoc Crane Group’s factories to learn the latest products and technologies. All of the company’s 13 technicians are members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 4 and 478.

The technicians travel throughout New England in fully equipped service trucks to keep customers’ cranes up and running.

“Shawmut Equipment specializes in the sale and support of cranes, but the cranes we sell have a lot of variety in their technology, components and operation,” said David O’Connell. “Our customers need technicians with in-depth knowledge of their particular type of crane, and Shawmut Equipment has technicians with individual expertise in each type of crane.”

Shawmut’s parts department is available 24 hours a day to research parts orders and ship out spare parts. The strength of Shawmut’s parts staff lies in its attention to detail and years of experience.

Parts Manager John Evans joined the company 19 years ago and runs Shawmut’s parts department. He and his team ship parts to crane owners throughout New England and the world.

“John’s superior management and organization of the Shawmut’s parts inventory is a large part of the reason why he is regarded as one of the country’s premier crane parts salesmen,” said O’Connell.

His staff includes Ralph Bragg and John Rita in the Connecticut office and Peter Blinn and Donna Burns in the Massachusetts office.

Helping the entire organization run smoothly is Accounting Manager and General Office Manager Pam Cothran, who has been with Shawmut for 20 years.

“Pam’s attention to every detail of her job makes her an integral part of Shawmut,” said O’Connell. “The company owes much of its success to her hard work and commitment.”

The company also is fortunate to have dedicated office personnel, including Kathy Stimson, Sue Chalou and Deb Molocko.

Advertising Director Kristina O’Connell has launched a new, informative company newsletter, New England Crane News.

As the company reflects on the past half century and looks forward, it will continue its mission of treating the customer well.

“Without the support and loyalty of our customers, Shawmut Equipment could not have reached its 50th anniversary,” said O’Connell. “We are eager to continue building upon these strong relationships for many years to come.”

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