Case Studies

Empire Crane Company

Selling and Servicing Quality Cranes in the Northeast
  • Written by: Empire Crane Company
  • Produced by: Empire Crane Company
  • Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Brothers Paul and Luke Lonergan founded Empire Crane Company (Empire) in January 2002 as a mid-sized local crane dealership. “Our father was the district representative for Pettibone Cranes in the 1970s,” says Paul, president of Empire. “I graduated college in 1988 and went to work for him. From 1990 until 2000, I worked as district manager in Buffalo.”

Later in 1991 Pettibone went out of business, therefore, Paul and Luke decided to utilize their industry experience to form a new dealership. “We formed Empire in 2002,” he elaborates. “We’ve been in business for 12 years, serving Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey all the way up to Maine.”

The team’s headquarters is in Syracuse, N.Y.; however, Empire also has satellite branches in Somerville, N.J., and Billerica, Mass., to house Empire’s 27 employees who deal exclusively in cranes. With strong supplier relationships and the help of emerging technologies, the Lonergan brothers have taken the company international. “We are selling cranes, new and used, all over the world,” Paul notes. “We’ve sold cranes from the tip of Chile all the way to Korea.”

Crane Game

Empire’s flagship brand is Terex, a global manufacturer of heavy equipment including cranes, lifts, mixers and material handling machinery. For the last six years, Empire has achieved top performance with the brand through sales and marketing, and has also accumulated the world’s largest inventory of Terex cranes. The company is able to offer leading selection and with a direct line to the manufacturer; clients do not experience a long waiting period. Customers can also find a number of other brands, both new and used on the lot. The company’s cranes are put to use on a range of applications, and recent projects include oil field and wind turbine projects within the energy sector.

Outside of sales, Empire offers parts and services for all major brand cranes. “Service is a growing division,” says Paul. “We service everything we sell. We have road mechanics with service trucks who travel all over to work on cranes. Our technicians have been to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and in the middle of a gold mine in Mexico.”

Many manufacturers offer warrantees on equipment, leaving the services to individual brand mechanics on a case-by-case basis. “We are also a worldwide parts distributor,” he adds. “Every day we are sending parts out all over the world to both customers who have purchased equipment from us and people just shopping around.”

While Paul and Luke remain focused, it is not all business at Empire. In 2013, the company is hosting the second annual Crane Rodeo in Syracuse. “This is an opportunity we create in conjunction with Crane Institute Certification for crane operators to showcase their skills,” says Paul. “On July 19, 2013, we will have operators here working our products through a predetermined course. It is a fun way to see how they stack up against their peers and it’s a lot like a cowboy rodeo. We want to see who can complete the course in the shortest time with the fewest infractions. The regional qualifiers are then invited to the finals at the Con Expo in Las Vegas. We are hoping to continue this as an annual event.”

Game Changing Developments

Paul acknowledges that with time, comes change. “The Internet generation has improved our mass marketing capabilities, giving us the ability to reach all corners of the world,” he explains. “It has brought the world to our doorstep with a few keystrokes. My brother has been to the Middle East. I’ve been to Chile, Argentina and Brazil. On Monday I’m heading to Amsterdam. 20 years ago I was carrying around a beeper and I knew where every payphone in Central New York was located. Now we can communicate at a moment’s notice. We still make local sales, but I think the technology takes a bit of the personality out of it. We are seeing fewer faces, there isn’t as much getting to know customers. 20 years ago, you knew who your client’s favorite ballclub was; you don’t see that anymore. The business is less interactive. We are still seeing customers in our backyard, but it is important for us to follow demand wherever it takes us.”

While face-to-face business is on the decline, the benefits of worldwide transmission have given Empire a major boost over the last few years. “Through the early 2000s, we saw slow, steady growth,” Paul notes. “It’s like the world woke up in 2005 or 2006 and if we had it, we sold it. We were aggressive about orders. It was essentially a supply-demand issue where the demand was way up, so as long as you had the supply you were OK. Empire weathered the financial crisis of 2008 very well. We’ve had some of our busiest years during the recession. The thing is, Luke and I don’t golf and we don’t fish, because we are hands-on owners. We are there every day, because we understand the value in being attentive to our employees and customers.”

Day in and day out, Empire continues to grow. With over a decade in the market, the team is making a big impression on equipment sales. Relationships have proven to be the key to success for the brothers. Empire Crane Company is dedicated to providing a leading customer experience through knowledgeable, professional staff and a broad selection of cranes.

For more information on Empire Crane Company, please visit

Published on: September 10, 2013

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