A.J. Scarr has built its business on the flexibility of the Franna pick and carry. It recently completed a pool installation with a Franna AT20.
A.J. Scarr Cranes operates throughout the Central Coast and Newcastle regions an hour or so north of Sydney. Like many smaller crane operations, Frannas are very much the ‘go to’ for the taxi hire services the business provides.
Anthony Scarr started the business 13 years ago with a 20t truck mount crane. Today, he runs a 3t Maeda mini crawler, a 13t Kato city crane, two Frannas and a 30t Kato truck mount.
Glenn McAuliffe is the Business Manager for A.J. Scarr Cranes and has been with the business for six years. “I started out in cranes 20 years ago working with Central Coast Cranes. As most do, I began dogging and learning the cranes to eventually driving them. I left to work for Pearce Cranes and that’s where I met Anthony. We worked together there for a few years and then Anthony started out on his own and I went to Western Australia.
“In WA, I worked with Boom Logistics and Norwest Crane Hire mainly up in the Pilbara region. I was operating cranes, everything from Frannas through to 350t capacity all terrains. The work was varied but mainly involved heavy lifting and a range of different types of lifts relating to the mining industry,” he said.
McAuliffe goes on to discuss the role the Frannas have in the fleet and the flexibility they offer.
“Franna is a purpose-built machine and a lot of the work we do with a Franna, no other machine will do. This means the utilisation of Frannas is terrific which is great from a business point of view. To get the best out of a Franna, you need to know how to drive it, and for the guys who have spent time behind the wheel and know what they are doing, they know Frannas are great machines,” he said.
“This Franna AT20 is 10 years old, and we’ve had it in the fleet for four years. It was an upgrade in terms of capacity moving from our original 15t. It’s been an excellent machine. It features a Mercedes Benz engine, great driveline, plenty of power and having the larger capacity has opened up more work for us. It’s a great machine with a maximum lifting capacity of 20 tonne at a 1.4m radius and a main boom length 17.9m,” he said.
Work on the Coast has remained fairly constant although COVID hasn’t helped in terms of confidence says McAuliffe.
“A.J. Scarr is mainly in the taxi hire business so much of our work involves pools, trusses and we manage a fair amount of tree work with the local arborists. We’ll be dropping in five to six pools a week for various pool companies. There are some tricky ones amongst them with tight and limited access, but the Franna is perfect for this type of job,” he said.
One of the pool companies working with A.J. Scarr is Waterstone Constructions, a relative newcomer to the Central Coast pool scene.
Ben Silver is the owner and his background is structural landscaping and swimming pool building.
“We kicked off Waterstone Constructions in February. I had been working for one of the bigger swimming pool builders and with the industry booming, I thought now was the time to go out on my own.
People naturally look for the pool shell first and then for the installer. The pool company we use most is Swimming Pool Kits Direct and they recommend us for installs. Once the client has the quote for their pool-shell, we then run them through the installation from start to finish.
We work throughout the Central Coast, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Hunter Valley regions and we’ve been busy from day one, and some days it is hard to keep up with the demand. I planned to have two guys on for the first year of business, but we’ve just put on another apprentice recently and if it keeps going the way we are we’ll have another one next year.
These pools are marketed as Swimming Pool Kit Direct, so they fit the DIY market. But we find most customers realise that putting a swimming pool in a hole is one thing; everything that goes with it including landscaping, paving fencing, compliance is something else entirely,” said Silver.
“When we have a lift, we always start with A.J. Scarr Cranes, they are first choice for every job. When we start working with a client, we can quickly the type of crane we will need, and I’ll give Anthony or Glenn a call. They’re great, they come out and have a look at the job, their turn around is quick, and they always look for the safest and quickest way to manage the lift,” he said.
Silver goes on to explain why he prefers to see Frannas working on his projects.
“I prefer to use smaller cranes for the installs and Frannas are ideal for this. They tend to have less impact on the site and less impact on local traffic which makes a site much easier to manage. A.J. Scarr Cranes run Frannas and smaller cranes including a 35 tonner and these capacities suit our type of work,” he said.
“We prefer to use Frannas for our work. If we go any bigger to 80t or 100t plus capacity all terrains for example, they are obviously more expensive, but they are more invasive on the job as well. They can chew up lawns leaving deep tyre ruts, or the outriggers can damage a driveway, so we try to avoid them as much as possible.
Frannas can get into most back yards as long as you’ve got 2.7m of access. It is always easier to take out some fence panels as opposed to going with a bigger crane and lifting a pool over the home. This will be a straight-forward lift. They’ll have a spreader bar and rigging including soft slings. Glenn will have a dogman with him to help lead it into and through the adjacent garden and slowly put it in to the big hole. How often does the pool fit the hole? First time every time when dig it,” said Silver.
McAuliffe talks about the specifics of the job and discusses the importance of being a member of The Crane Industry Council of Australia.
“Today, we’ll be using 3t capacity endless slings which are 3m in length. We’ll shackle these on to our extendable spreader bar and we’ll hook this on the centre lug and walk the pool around and drop it straight into the hole.
A.J. Scarr Cranes, places significant importance on being a member of CICA. Like many smaller crane companies, we look to CICA for guidance around industry guidelines and compliance related issues particularly.
When we get to site with CraneSafe and CrewSafe stickers on our cranes, clients know we are serious about our business and safety related issue. We believe it is important for the crane industry to be well regulated and CICA does a great job, and the CraneSafe and CrewSafe programs continue to set industry standards,” he said.
“CICA is also excellent with its dissemination of useful information. We find the CICA Bulletins really informative and Cranes and Lifting magazine is excellent for keeping us up to date with what is happening around the country. It is always interesting to see where the industry is headed with the bigger companies taking the lead, and for us smaller businesses, it helps us keep abreast of new product developments which is critical,” said McAuliffe.