Creating the Cranes that Clients have Always Wanted

G.W. Becker, Inc.
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

Don’t think “cranes,” think “overhead lifting solutions.” That small difference in approach, says G.W. Becker, Inc., is what has made the company into one of North America’s most recognized and admired “providers of innovative overhead lifting solutions.”

From custom-designed and engineered overhead cranes, workstation cranes, and jib cranes to hoists, freestanding runway systems, and parts and services (including inspections, repairs and troubleshooting) fabrication, machining, engineering, and training, G.W. Becker, Inc. is truly a one-stop shop on a quest to make the lifting life better and easier.

Based in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, the company is an Executive Member of the Crane Manufacturers Association of America, Inc. (CMAA), which has member companies serving markets across the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Specialists in the design and manufacture of custom overhead cranes, hoists, and components, G.W. Becker, Inc. fabricates high-quality products to exacting CMAA Specifications (Class “A” through “F”), and/or Association for Iron & Steel Technology standards.

The company is also proud to be affiliated with the Material Handling Industry of America (MHI) – America’s biggest association for material handling, logistics, and supply chain – and some staffers hold membership in the non-profit Association for Iron & Steel Technology (AIST), which has over 15,500 members from more than 70 countries.

Advancing its knowledge since the company was created in 1980 in Grove City, PA, G.W. Becker, Inc. today has grown to a staff of over 70 and counting. From general laborers and welders to certified welders, electricians, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, and structural engineers to machine operators, service technicians, and a fully staffed engineering department, the business is comprehensively equipped to handle every customer’s crane need.

Industry-wide praise

“We pride ourselves as an overhead lifting solutions company,” says Sales Manager Ron Piso. “We are turnkey; we are not just products, but products, services, and people,” he says.

“The products part is the cranes and the components. The services are repairs, troubleshooting and inspections in engineering and training. And we think the people we have here are the best in the industry.”

In business 42 years, G.W. Becker, Inc. began as a crane parts distributor and has been manufacturing cranes for over 24 years. This includes the company’s own brand of cranes for 23 years. Although the company is sometimes seen as a regional crane builder, it is so much more, with over 50 percent of its cranes already in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and West Virginia, and is now eyeing far-flung projects in Jamaica and other locations.

But no matter where clients are based, or the type of crane, decades of top-quality products and outstanding service result in satisfied customers.

“We have a very loyal customer base, so when they’re in need of a new overhead lifting solution, we’re the ones they call,” says Piso of G.W. Becker, Inc. which will build a new crane, and disassemble the old one. At present, about 85 percent of the company’s customer base are end-users, with the remaining 15 percent being construction companies, contractors, engineering firms, and others involved in erecting buildings.

“We work hand-in-hand with construction companies, the contractors, subcontractors, the engineering firm, and the end-user to make sure the equipment is functioning properly once it is all installed and ready to use.”

With solid and experienced teams, the company self-performs about 90 percent of its work. This covers all aspects, from designs created by its engineering department to manufacturing and professional installation by its service crew.

After the crane is installed, G.W. Becker, Inc. performs maintenance or repairs on all cranes, not only those it provides.

“Our focus for the company is ‘Overhead lifting solutions,’ so we go from design to build, and from service to inspection and training. We are also a major distributor for every major crane brand, and its crane parts, in the world.”

Safety first – and always

Along with building a reputation for quality and service, G.W. Becker, Inc. is known for its strong safety record, which includes zero injuries/zero recordables, and no OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) violations.

To maintain its enviable record in the workplace, the company has implemented a rigorous Safety and Health Program training employees in safe work practices, and how to recognize and correct unsafe conditions.

“Our Safety Policy has equal importance with G.W. Becker, Inc.’s policies of providing the best quality and most productive service in our industry,” says the company on its website. “It is our goal to completely eliminate accidents and injuries. Because of the many different hazards of our industry, we must maintain a constant safety awareness to achieve this goal.”

Holding monthly safety committee and Toolbox Talks every week, the company covers everything from conservation programs to forklift training and machines. “Something comes up probably every quarter in our safety committee meetings that we address and add to the list, making our workplace safer,” says Piso.

Well-timed expansion

To keep up with customer needs, G.W. Becker, Inc. began planning a much-needed expansion throughout the third quarter of 2019 before giving it the green light in December 2019, when the project broke ground.

By March/April 2020, the company was already under roof, which proved to accommodate its growing production needs. “The reason the expansion was greenlighted was because actual growth and projected growth were significant,” says Piso. “We had a tremendous backlog from 2019 and needed more room in our manufacturing facility.”

This saw an expansion of 60 percent to the company’s existing building – which today has about 68,000 square feet under roof, including office space – and the purchase of new equipment, including plasma tables and shot blast.

The objective, says Piso, was for the G.W. Becker, Inc. to become as vertically integrated as possible, bringing in raw material and turning it into cranes.

On the business side, the investment in expansion is already paying off. In the past 18 months, the company has built nine automated cranes for clients, as automation is fast becoming a significant growth opportunity across all the industries it serves, along with steel and steel providers.

“I think that may be the silver lining of COVID. In the manufacturing process with cranes, when you’re moving heavy items, automation is going to explode, and it kind of has already.”

Ahead of the curve

Continuing to innovate, G.W Becker, Inc. recently introduced the first automated-coil handling (via magnet) crane in North America. The product evolved from a meeting in early 2020 with a company providing the software end of a fully automated warehouse system dependent on cranes.

Best of all, the new system is 100 percent fully automated and does not require human touch until it is prepared to ship. “We do all the manufacturing, and we joined with this company to make sure everything is in the control panels of the automation,” says Piso.

The crane was built for a new greenfield facility in the southern part of the country and features branded names: G.W. Becker’s – the crane manufacturer/designer, the software company, the magnet company, and the end-user. “There were a lot of hands in doing this. It was interesting and a very successful process for everyone.”

Acquiring significant business through word-of-mouth and referrals over the years, G.W. Becker, Inc. is now also bumping up its presence in social media and implementing broader marketing tools. These include accurate tracking of the impact of marketing on sales revenue, empowering the marketing department to better meet the company’s requirements, and being a stronger presence in several trade shows a year.

In the coming years, G.W. Becker, Inc. aspires to keep growing, but also to respect and maintain the family-owned values that have served the company so well.

George Becker, the company founder, maintains an open-door policy and an enthusiasm for training up people and sharing his knowledge, while his son and company president, Chris Becker, is always there for everyone in the company for any reason, personal or professional.

“That’s our message,” says Piso. “We may be categorized as a small company, but we are a large-thinking company, and the three strongest aspects are our people, our products, and our service.”

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