Southwest Industrial Rigging
- Written by: Tom Faunce
- Produced by: Ryan Fecteau
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Southwest Industrial Rigging (SWIR) was founded in 1986 by Harry Baker, who was working at the time with a single crane in Casa Grande, Arizona. Over the past 30 years, the company has grown into a leading full-service, industrial rigging company with locations in Tucson, Arizona, Flagstaff, Arizona, and two locations in Phoenix including its corporate headquarters.
When Baker set out to start SWIR, his goal was to create a company that offered a turnkey service to customers. With each division that has been added to the company over the years, the purpose has been to decrease the amount of parties involved in transporting and lifting heavy equipment. “Harry has been successful in creating divisions that work really well together as well as managers and team leaders that all have a solid grasp on everything that we do,” says Andrea Williams, safety, public relations and marketing manager for SWIR. “Everyone is able to work together so that clients only have one company to deal with. We’ve been able to do that for years now and our customers know they can count on us for turnkey solutions to their unique projects.”
As a company that places safety as a top priority, SWIR embraces new technology, almost daily, that provides safer, more efficient methods of completing each job. “We are always striving to eliminate any risk of someone getting injured on the job,” says Williams. “It can be challenging in the construction industry to get people to move forward in technology because many people want to hold onto the old ways of doing things. But when it comes to the safety of your employees, you have to invest the money and embrace new methods.”
Building upon success
SWIR recently completed a project in Phoenix that showcases the different divisions that the company manages to work together. The job involved removing a 600,000-pound transformer from a railcar and transporting it across town where it was unloaded at a new substation in Buckeye, Arizona. “It was a really great project for us,” says Williams. “It involved our heavy rigging, machinery, heavy transport and welding divisions to complete the transport from rail side to the substation. This is the kind of project that really shows how unique we are, and how well our divisions work together to get the job done safely and on schedule.”
Currently SWIR is involved in supporting the construction of a large aquarium, which is scheduled to open in July 2016. The machine and crane divisions of SWIR are being utilized to move fish tanks and build the infrastructure of the facility. The company has also been awarded a project involving rail and pedestrian bridges throughout the state of Arizona.
As the company’s projects get larger in size and scope, SWIR is expanding to meet the demand. Baker considers one of the company’s biggest recent accomplishments to be a new 40-acre facility completed in 2012. “We purchased the land in 2009,” he reveals. “It was previously home to Manzanita Raceway. Our old facility was just 10,000 square feet and this new expansion adds two 22,000-square-foot buildings: one for fabrication and the other for maintenance of our fleet trucks, cranes and trailers.”
Safety a top priority
The ability to keeps its employees safe and busy is one of the biggest measures of success for SWIR. The company’s growing portfolio and safety record have proven its ability to achieve the desired outcome of every job while creating the opportunity for its employees to support their families. The company’s reputation was crucial during the recession as SWIR felt the effects of the economic downturn, but managed to survive and keep its employees at work. “We have a lot of people who depend on us to provide them enough work to take care of their families,” says Williams. “Nobody wants to see any layoffs and fortunately we haven’t had to do that.”
Providing turnkey solutions for clients has generated a diverse market for SWIR as the company has remained padded from fluctuations in the market. “Cranes are always going to be needed,” says Williams. “We spread our services around to different industries and clients to diversify ourselves and minimize negative economic impacts generated from relying on one customer or industry demographic.”
Williams has been with SWIR for more than six years. Originally hired for a sales position, she was initially charged with the task of selling training programs, which incorporated her background from her former position at a crane and rigging training and safety company in Orlando, Florida, before joining SWIR. “Once I started working here, we discovered that my efforts were better utilized to improve the training and safety of our workforce rather than focus on outside training sales for our training center,” recounts Williams. “Our safety director Mike Patten and I have worked very hard to nurture a culture of safety, where everyone looks out for one another as well as themselves.”
Amid consistent growth SWIR focuses on supporting longstanding customers and doing each and every job — big or small — with precision. Southwest Industrial Rigging continues to build on a trusted reputation — 30 years strong — expanding through specialized capabilities and remembering humble beginnings.
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