In the vigorously competitive construction services market in Pennsylvania, Iron Stag Crane Service is making its mark and stamping its intentions. Despite the company’s relative youth, its iron stag logo is recognized everywhere as being synonymous with quality.
Iron Stag Crane Service was established in 2015 by Shane and Ned Eisenhart, a nephew/uncle duo, both of whom were born into the crane services sector. With only four years between them, the two grew up together around cranes in the family business, Eisenhart Welding and Crane Service.
“We were born and raised around it. We started off young in the business as crane operators,” says Shane Eisenhart, who serves as Vice President of Iron Stag Crane Service, which he co-owns with Ned.
Eisenhart Welding and Crane Service operated as a family-owned and operated business until 2000, when it was sold to a local construction company. It continues to operate under that name today.
When asked why the business was sold, Shane replies, “My dad and his brother were at retirement age, so that’s why the business was sold, and Ned is the youngest brother. We’re only four years apart, so we stayed with the business.”
Ned and Shane remained with the company from 2000 to 2015, but it was clear that something was missing. It was a family business in name only and they longed to serve customers and do business their way again.
As Shane notes, “The construction company that bought us was huge, and their philosophy was different from ours. Our family philosophy was always to take care of the customer. The customer is always number one and when they need a crane, we do everything possible to make that happen.”
Unfortunately, since the family name was sold with the business, Ned and Shane needed to come up with a unique way to pay homage to the family legacy, while blazing their own path under a new moniker. While Eisenhart as a name was off the table, there was a creative way around it: “Eisen” is German for iron and “hart” is an adult male stag or deer. “Our family is German and this honors our family heritage,” says Shane. Thus, the name Iron Stag Crane Service was born.
With Iron Stag Crane Service, the Eisenharts have employed the very business principles that served the family business for 75 years, and ironically, find themselves in direct competition with their namesake.
In fact, Iron Stag Crane Service found itself in an entire market that was busting with competitiveness. “Everyone thought we should have our heads examined,” Shane says, “especially with the competition in our market,” but then Shane and Ned had the family’s secret recipe for success to bring to their business.
So, from one crane, two men and a dream, to a fleet of 13 cranes and a team of 25 people, the family, by way of Iron Stag Crane Service, has asserted its presence in the industry once again as a reputable and dependable crane rental and service provider.
Meeting the challenge
The only challenge was, and still is, finding the talent to take advantage of the opportunity to grow. This is especially true of the shortage of crane operators in the market, which is not just an Iron Stag problem, but rather, a national market challenge that continues to stifle growth.
“The biggest challenge we have had is getting employees. We can get the work. We can get the new equipment, but getting the employees is the hardest part. That’s been the biggest challenges since we’ve been in business,” says Shane. And, unfortunately, the pandemic just made things worse.
Luckily, or rather, strategically, Iron Stag Crane Service invests in its own and has developed an in-house training program to develop talent from within and give people career advancement opportunities, which makes it attractive to many.
“We train our guys in-house. We’ll hire them as Class A truck drivers, and we’ll run them with the cranes, and we’ll train them and teach them to eventually become crane operators and get them certified. There are a lot of certifications involved with a crane operator, and you have to be licensed now in most states,” said Shane.
He also explains how this takes place and why this is valuable to Iron Stag Crane Service, “Our trucks, tractor trailers, run the counterweights that go with our cranes, so the men are out there, and they see how the cranes get put together and operate and the crane operators will teach them,” which offers invaluable on the job training and exposure to real-life scenarios and situations.
Making customers the priority
Further to on-site training, there is a dedicated training center at the company’s brand-new headquarters which opened on April first of this year, six years to the day after its grand opening. Located on a twelve-acre property, the building offers approximately 20,000 square feet over two stories, ample enough to accommodate future growth.
“We had leased a building to get started in 2015 and we were there for six years. It was a great location and a great building; we just flat-out outgrew it. We had no more space and we had to do something, so instead of leasing we decided to purchase land at a good location for a good price and we put up a new building,” Shane recalls.
From its home base, Iron Stag Crane Service undertakes projects within a 100-mile radius, though it will travel further for the right client or the right project. The team will also offer consultation and support, even if the requirements exceed its in-house capabilities.
“We provide crane rental and trucking. We lift anything. We’ll entertain any project even if it’s something that seems over our head. We’ll still take a look at it to see what type of resources we can provide to get the job done,” says Shane.
The team at Iron Stag Crane Service goes to great lengths to serve and satisfy its customers, which it holds in the highest regard. This includes leveraging its existing relationships with other crane rental companies to subcontract overflow work to reputable sources to ensure their customers are taken care of, even if they themselves don’t have the bandwidth to do so.
Shane notes, “Our people are taught the same philosophy: our customers come first. We’ll do whatever we can, as long as it is safe, to make the customer happy. We tell the guys, we can sell the job, we can get the customers, but you are the ones that keep them. You’re the ones they see out there and you are very pivotal in maintaining that customer relationship.”
The Iron Stag way
The team works safely above all else and this philosophy and approach, as well as the ability to execute in accordance with it, is why Iron Stag Crane Service secures big projects. One of its largest projects took place last year at a power plant shut down in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, which required six cranes on site. As Shane recalls, “It was one of the proudest moments for us.”
Another source of pride at Iron Stag Crane Service is the relationships it has built with its customers and employees. Customers want and appreciate the culture it brings to projects and how it operates day-to-day as a family-owned and operated entity.
“We are family-oriented. We consider our employees family. We are a team. Ned and I treat our employees like we want to be treated. We remember our roots and where we came from and we always try to treat our people that way; like they’re family,” says Shane. Consciously building a rich and vibrant family culture is clearly playing off in spades.
It’s apparent from the motivation that shows everywhere in the company that when it comes to a job well done at Iron Stag Crane Service, there is a lot riding on success. Not only does the reputation of the company depend on it, the reputation of the Eisenhart family and its legacy in the industry is on the line, and Ned, Shane and their team will continue to do what it takes to honor the past and challenge the future in that regard.