Case Studies

DeSHAZO Crane Company: A Stalwart of American Innovation

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DeSHAZO Crane Company (DeSHAZO) has become one of the leading manufacturers of overhead bridge cranes in the United States since its founding in 1974. DeSHAZO maintains an in-house team of professional technicians to consult with clients when a modernization may be the best option and ensure that cranes are always in good working order. DeSHAZO has five regional offices and over 200 employees who take pride in upholding the standards for quality and customer satisfaction for which the DeShazo name stands, no matter the make or model. The company guarantees that every crane is custom-built and engineered to do precisely what the customer needs it to.

“We look at a lot of different metrics, like warranty claims and sales numbers, but at the end of the day it all comes down to customer satisfaction,” expands Guy K. Mitchell III, president and COO of DeSHAZO. Mitchell started at DeSHAZO in 1998, not long after his father, Guy K. Mitchell Jr., purchased the company from the second generation of DeShazo family members. The company has gradually expanded beyond its headquarters in Birmingham, Ala., with additional locations in Houston, Texas; Indianapolis, Ind.; Atlanta, Ga.; and Charlotte, N.C. DeSHAZO now boasts over 15,000 cranes in use to date, primarily on U.S. shores but also in Latin America and the Middle East.

DeSHAZO’s client base includes industrial behemoths Nucor Steel, Ryerson Coil, ThyssenKrupp Steel USA, NASA, Lockheed Martin, Metals USA, Exxon and Steel Dynamics, all who continue to choose DeSHAZO cranes over the competition because of the company’s vertical integration and equipment durability. The DeSHAZO team follows the entire lifecycle of each crane from concept to decommissioning with every component designed, engineered, machined and fabricated at the company’s 150,000-square foot manufacturing complex in Alabaster, Ala.

Any Product, Anywhere

The company manufactures a variety of cranes, including single- and double-girder cranes, hoists, runway systems, crane components, as well as radio controls, under-the-hook attachments, jib cranes and monorail systems. Every installation is handled directly by DeSHAZO crews for maximum quality control and reliability, ensuring every crane is done right the first time.

DeSHAZO manufactures all of its products using state-of-the-art technology and computer-controlled machining capabilities to yield precisely uniform parts. The company is capable of building parts to factory specifications and even issuing a new warranty to the customer when needed. DeSHAZO has technicians constantly traveling the continent to inspect systems and perform periodic maintenance. The company is also capable of providing skilled technicians and in-house engineering talent to bring older cranes up to the latest industry standards, including OSHA. DeSHAZO also surveys all of a crane’s systems to ensure every component operates as promised.

The company’s band of traveling technicians can pull repair parts from warehouses across the country stocked to the brim with original equipment manufacturer parts, ensuring that components arrive quickly and downtime is minimized, even if the emergency happens in the middle of the night.

Renowned Reliability

Over the years DeSHAZO has also established a presence amongst highly specialized and peripheral markets. “We have critical lift cranes designed to move things like satellites for NASA, and at a few U.S. Air Force bases, as well as cranes designed for shipyards and distribution centers for Publix Supermarkets,” says Mitchell.

Mitchell reports that the company has seen only a slight dip in sales in lieu of the recent economic downturn. The company’s stability is partially due to the fact that DeSHAZO products are major ticket purchases with long life cycles, so new equipment sales will always be balanced by a healthy after-sales service division.

In fact both the new sales and the service divisions have been able to grow in spite of a sluggish economy. The team was busy for many months after the financial meltdown manufacturing three dozen cranes in a project totaling over $29 million for a ThyssenKrupp steel mill being built in Mobile, Ala.

The company launched its Texas branch in January 2011 in order to expand its geographical footprint and then landed a contract from Wacker Polysilicon North America in September 2011. The contract called for DeSHAZO to supply and install a number of overhead bridge cranes at a new production facility being built in Cleveland, Tenn. The facility is scheduled for a 2013 completion date, allowing Wacker to begin manufacturing the key raw material in the manufacturing of solar cells: polysilicon.

Facilitating Future Growth

“We’re actually seeing manufacturing activities relocate to the country from overseas in some cases,” adds Mitchell. The most prominent example for DeSHAZO would be the new Mitsubishi Electrical Power Products Inc. plant currently under construction in Memphis, Tenn.

Mitsubishi announced the new plant in February 2011, and it will ultimately serve as the company’s North American headquarters for the manufacture of heavy electrical equipment, including the company’s extra-high voltage shell-type power transformers. DeSHAZO announced in December 2011 that the company would be supplying the requisite overhead bridge cranes for the facility, which is scheduled to begin production in 2013.

“Since my family took over DeSHAZO, we have averaged 15-percent growth rate year over year,” says Mitchell. “Our plan is to continue to expand our footprint and always retain the same level of quality and customer satisfaction we are known for.”

There doesn’t seem to be any slump in sight for the domestic manufacturing industry and DeSHAZO Crane Company is poised to build upon its track record of customer satisfaction with the help of its skilled professionals and proven reliability.

Published on: March 9, 2013

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