WA’s Goldfields have long been a fertile breeding ground for successful family businesses but few manage to make the leap into the big league.
At 59, Cranecorp Australia founder Rick Musarra achieved that this year when he signed a multi-million dollar private equity deal that has catapulted his family crane company into the industry’s top tier.
The business started as a one man, one crane operation in Kalgoorlie, back in 1994, and now operates one of the biggest mobile crane fleets in Western Australia with 140 fleet assets, 70 cranes, seven depots and more than 100 skilled operators contracted around the State.
But far from heading out of the business for a life of retirement leisure, Rick is raring to go. As technical and strategic advisor, with a seat as Non-Executive Director on the new Cranecorp Australia Board, he has his eyes firmly set on the future.
“When I started, I had no real expectation of where I would end up,” said Rick. “I get a bit overwhelmed when I think about how far we have come and I am very excited about the future.
“Along the way there have been plenty of opportunities to sell the business but I am passionate about the company and I didn’t want to give it up. It is a legacy for my family although there was only a certain level of work we could secure as a smaller operator.
“Now we have the capital to pursue bigger jobs and the resources to meet the challenges that come with that as well as expert finance and management expertise that will make a huge difference to the business.”
Rick is very comfortable sitting in the driver’s seat with the pedal to the metal – whether he is taking the checkered flag at the speedway, where he has been racing since the age of 10, or in the cab of a giant crane. His wife and three children share his enthusiasm and his son Jake has followed him into the business.
“I gave up crane operating about 10 years ago. The business was getting too big and there wasn’t time to drive cranes although I had been doing it all my life,” Rick said
Rick’s father was a crane operator and Rick eventually followed in his footsteps, after completing a mechanics apprenticeship and spending 15 years in the mining industry.
He purchased his first crane in Kalgoorlie in 1994, finding a niche in the local market. Four years later he established Goldfields Crane Hire and the business went from strength to strength, with support from long-standing business partner Craig O’Donnell.
Having built up a fleet of 50 assets and an enviable reputation in the mining and exploration industry, Rick moved the operation to Perth and pursued iron ore and oil and gas opportunities across the State.
The company changed its name to Cranecorp Australia, in 2014, and has continued its stellar trajectory – now boasting a mobile fleet supported by a network of company depots in Henderson, Kalgoorlie, Leonora, Leinster, Geraldton, Tom Price and Wickham.
Specialising in complex shutdown and maintenance lifts, the company provides wet hire, dry hire and specialist labour hire services for clients in mining, oil and gas, construction, manufacturing, utilities and renewables. Its client list reads like a who’s who of the resources industry including BHP, Rio Tinto, AngloGold Ashanti, Glencore and Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines.
Six new cranes have been added to the fleet in the past six months.
“The craneage industry has changed in a big way but it is still a high risk industry – not just in a safety sense but also in the size of equipment you are working with, the value of the loads and the heights you are lifting,” Rick said.
“My business development theory has always been very simple – right crane, right area, right person in it – today we have the same commitment to the basic things, providing good service and building relationships with clients for the long term.
For more info visit www.cranecorpaustralia.com.au or call 1300 CRANE HIRE