Soon to start his own crane and rigging business on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Nathan Randles knows his time in the industry has served him well. Recently purchasing a Zoomlion ZTC251V from Australian distributor Gleason Cranes, the founder and director of NR Cranes (NRC) explores his career to date and hopes for the future.
Born on the Central Coast, Nathan lived there until he was a teenager, when he left to work in Darwin.
“So far, I’ve been in the crane industry for about 10 years; initially, I was working on the mine sites and gas projects underway out there.”
Following the energy projects, Nathan took his talents to Freo Group and worked there for a portion of his career – but then, COVID-19 hit.
“The work dried up out there,” he explains. “Most of the work Up North is gas related and so, with the rise in logistical expenses and drop in fuel prices across the industry during the pandemic, there wasn’t much for us to do.”
Deciding at that point to move back down to the Central Coast, Nathan then picked up work with Active Crane Hire, familiarising himself with the local industry, building up contacts, and commencing work that would align with what he is now conceiving his business in: structural steel work.
“It (starting his own business) is something that I’ve always wanted to do,” he says. “I feel as though everything is starting to feel relatively normal again after COVID. I think now’s the right time for me to be starting a business in what I want to be doing.”
Amongst his other considerations in starting his own business is keeping his location stable for his young family. He admits that he “did enjoy” working on the bigger jobs when he was younger, but now wants to “stay closer to home”.
“The steel and construction work that I’ll be doing is what I want to be around,” Nathan explains. “My main passion is to do smaller construction jobs. Considering I’m just starting out in the industry, being able to work regularly and on a much more local basis will allow me to get to know customers intimately and develop a strong connection with the other small businesses in the area.”
At the forefront of his endeavours is a Zoomlion ZTC251V recently purchased through Gleason Cranes, a 25-tonne crane with a four-section, 33.3-metre main boom.
Referencing his history with Gleason Cranes and personal experience with the Zoomlion brand itself, Nathan speaks of his comfort in working with Gleason’s sales manager Chris Logan when it was time to purchase the new crane.
“Back when I was working for Tomago Aluminium, they were in possession of a 50-tonne Zoomlion crane that they’d purchased from Gleason,” he says. “Gleason had styled it and placed their sticker on it, so that memory always stuck vividly in my mind. What also stuck with me was how well the crane endured the tough conditions we put it through, and that was what gave me the confidence to go through Gleason Cranes for the 25-tonner.”
“Additionally, throughout the purchasing process, they were very helpful with finances and ensuring that I received the product I needed for my business,” he adds. “Everything’s unfolded very smoothly so far, and Chris definitely helped to make mind up and commit to the Zoomlion.”
On top of the lifting capacity and boom length, the ZTC251V also features an eight speed, manually driven six-cylinder engine, comes with a three-tonne auxiliary hook, a guarantee on Australian compliance and a 12-month labour and parts warranty as well as being ready to register on the road across the country.
“It’s a very easy crane to use – maybe the easiest I’ve experience in my lifetime,” says Nathan. “It doesn’t overcomplicate itself, and it drives really well on the road; I didn’t expect it to be so efficient on fuel consumption.”
Another feature that set the ZTC251V apart from its competitors for Nathan was the quality on offer when cross-referenced with its price.
“Starting a business requires spending a lot of money,” he explains. “For it to be as affordable as it is and offer that level of reliability is really beneficial for me personally. I’ve had multiple experiences working with Zoomlion cranes throughout my career, and they’re yet to let me down.”
“Additionally, it’s a perfect fit for the industry I want to be operating in (structural steel), so possessing a crane that provides the best option for potential clients is an ideal scenario.”
Speaking further to the qualities and characteristics of his new Zoomlion, Nathan is also very complimentary towards the crane’s practicality, user-friendly interface and the level of safety he feels when operating the machine.
Coming with a full set of manuals for the operator to review, Gleason also offers full operator and service training with the ZTC251V.
“Chris – who helped me in acquiring the crane – gave me the complete run through, even though the controls are very similar to the two that I’ve previously operated,” says Nathan. “Even though it was a while ago, it all felt very familiar to me, and after a quick review of the manuals, it was all systems go – it’s just that easy to use.”
“I feel as though it’s a very safe crane to operate,” he continues. “I’ve got sight of the weight indicators, the load chart – everything. It’s just really accessible.”
“One of the most important things for me when it comes to operating a crane is the ease of use and practicality. If you’re comfortable with what you’re doing, then everything is automatically safer,” he adds. “Because of its simplicity, you can look at the load chart and see where you’re supposed to be quite easily without having to worry about relying on a heap of different technological inputs.”
“It’s so easy with the Zoomlion to know where you’re at and with it having the safety features in place to stop you if you were to make a mistake makes it a safe crane to operate.”
So, armed with a new crane, a company title, and a desire to help and work with fellow small businesses around him, Nathan’s eyes are firmly set on the future as he seeks to establish his business.
“I’m looking at booking in projects that I’ve worked in before, but not with my own crane. I’ve already touched base with a few companies that I’ve worked with previously, and they’ve said they’re happy to work together,” he says. “I’m still working with Active Crane Hire while I go through the formative stages of opening the business, which has been helpful for me to maintain an income and reduce the pressure of succeeding immediately.”
“It might take a little bit of time to get that client base going,” he adds. “But that will all unfold in the next few months.”