Anzola finds fit in crane and rigging industry
By D.Ann Shiffler08 March 2021
Greenfield Products’ Gus Anzola is a rising star in the crane and rigging industry.
The younger generation of the crane and rigging industry is doing just fine, thank you very much. They have been toiling in the industry for more than a decade and have become its rising stars.
Such is the case for Gustavo “Gus” Anzola, who started with Greenfield Products in the summer of 2007, a month after graduating as a Mechanical Engineer from the University of Tennessee at Martin. Greenfield had just been acquired by Lanco Group and management was looking to grow the business.
“Greenfield hired me as a design engineer, and it was a great fit,” he said. “It was a position where I could immediately apply much of the theory learned in the classroom and put it into practice.”
Anzola was intrigued by being able to see each design from start to finish.
“The job required fabrication knowledge and a lot of creativity for cost-effective solutions,” he said. “But before I sat in front of a computer and started drawing lines, I was placed in various positions throughout the factory to learn the product and the different manufacturing processes.”
As a young engineer, everything at Greenfield captivated his interest. He was quickly promoted to sales engineer, responsible for all concept drawings and cost estimates used in the quoting process. He started interacting with Greenfield’s customer base, saw the market needs and challenges and was able to dive deeper into the products and people in the crane and rigging industry.
“I jumped into a sales rep role in the fall of 2012 with the idea to design and develop the boom dolly product line that Greenfield started to offer a few years earlier without much success,” he said.
Today his primary role is to market and sell Greenfield’s crane and rigging related products. He also works in product development, ensuring product specs are met and working with the engineering and manufacturing teams to meet production target costs.
“On the marketing and retail side, I see myself as a product consultant rather than a salesperson,” he said. “Our sales team is very clear that at Greenfield we sell solutions that add value to an operation or service. People buy from us because we solve a problem. Even though we have well-defined product lines, within those product lines you will find a lot of customization and unique solutions.”
I first met Anzola at a SC&RA Crane & Rigging Workshop several years ago. He was engaging, enthusiastic and well-schooled regarding Greenfield’s boom dolly product line and the crane and rigging sector. Most recently, we visited at Breakbulk Americas in Houston in October 2019. It’s quite apparent that he is an up and comer in the industry and already well respected for his knowledge and crane and transport industry acumen. He has always been quick to respond to ACT’s inquiries about the boom dolly and boom launch market and he wants to make sure Greenfield Products get the best billing possible.
Anzola has found a fit in the crane and rigging industry, and the industry is better because of young people like him. I think you will find his answers to my questions interesting and important.
When you were young, did you envision working in the crane & rigging industry?
Not at all. While I was always inclined to technology and how things worked, growing up in my early teen-ager years, my job and attention was to play tennis. My upbringing, I believe, is different than most people involved in this industry.
Being born in Tennessee, while my parents attended school, gave me the opportunity of being a U.S. citizen. With that in mind, when my parents moved back to Venezuela when I was only two years old, their vision was for me and my brother to come back to the U.S. under a scholarship so we could get our education and start a career here. Their vision was reinforced by the political and economic turmoil of Venezuela in the early 2000s. In 2001, their idea turned into a reality as I returned to the U.S. to attend high school and eventually university, learning the English language in the process. My dad, being an engineer, influenced me to become one. While getting my engineering degree, I was exposed to various industries, but never crane and rigging. I have to say it is a privilege to be part of it and being able to know so many great skilled individuals.
What is your evolution of Greenfield’s Crane & Rigging product line?
As I began interacting with crane users and winning some early boom dolly deals, I was traveling to every delivery and overseeing the dolly installation. I would ensure the boom dollies met specs and the units traveled with the crane without issues. I immersed myself in the product and the entire process, from engineering to final assembly, which gave me great knowledge not only of the product but also our capabilities.
With this new understanding, I looked at the competition and their product offering. I found features and needs the market was demanding that were not being fulfilled. From there, we identified other products being needed by the same customer base that our engineering team could take on.
Steel outrigger mats was a great fit to our factory and a good complement to the boom dolly sales. When we started building mats, most everyone was either buying wood or building their own. We learned very early on the requirements of the market and made adjustments to our design that added value.
Around the same time, we were taking on the mats, we were asked to modify a boom launch trailer. Modifying the launch trailer was a good first step to understanding the application and the physics involved. After completion of that project, we decided to take on this line and started working on a full boom launcher design.
How has the Covid pandemic affected your business?
The pandemic has certainly affected us. Like many in the industry, we were considered essential and fortunate to operate throughout the pandemic. Many in management and administrative roles started working remotely to minimize the number of people at the office. We adapted quickly by using video conferencing programs such as Teams to host our meetings and still have some sort of face-to-face interaction. Our corporation restricted all travel for several months out of last year, which made it difficult when situations came up in different parts of the country.
I think our biggest challenge during the pandemic was to maintain revenue levels from the year before and to maintain the workflow at the factory. We did have a small number of layoffs last year in cost reduction efforts and leaner operations. We are very fortunate that coming into the pandemic we had strong financials and were able to weather not only slower sales due to Covid-19, but also due to the presidential election. I had several customers that waited until after the election to decide how they were going to move forward.
How does Greenfield Products approach product development?
Our approach to product development centers around the customer and solving the problem at hand. Whether it is a visibility issue on a lift truck while handling large tires or coming up with a reliable jack system for wheel maintenance on gondola cars, we are always listening to the customer for what they need. While we have several product experts in the sales, engineering and production team, our customers are ultimately the expert of our products given they are the ones using them every day. Taking feedback from them and relying on the information to the respective team inside Greenfield is key for continuous improvement of the products. The pandemic has made us more conservative when taking on a new product or project. We have developed metrics for better visibility of the scope of work ahead and to increase our chances of successful projects.
Greenfield Products seems to be a company that is never daunted by a customer’s product requests or challenges. Are most of your products custom designs?
That is correct. We strive in product customization and developing a solution that fits a specific need. I think part of the reason that we are not easily intimidated is being part of Lanco. Our group of companies gives us access to a lot of resources and industry knowledge. We have several locations we can manufacture from and access to a vast engineering group. If that doesn’t quite do it, we also have great relationships with our vendor network across the country.
What keeps you engaged in what you do?
Having an engineering background gives me the privilege of being involved in several areas of the sales, design and fabrication process. In the sales process, I can come up with my own concepts and ideas with a high level of confidence that they are feasible and realistic solutions. I truly enjoy working with engineering in the design process and figuring out the best method to solve a problem. Developing a market for Greenfield in the crane and rigging industry has been an amazing experience and a great challenge. I have come to know a lot of great people and have learned a great amount from them. Talking to new and recurring customers and continuing to improve our offerings is part of what keeps me engaged and motivated daily.
Greenfield recently developed its Smart Crane Mat line. What distinguishes these outrigger pads?
We have done very well with our line of Smart Crane mats. I get asked sometimes, why “smart?” My answer to that is the same answer as to what distinguishes them. We were granted a patent in 2019 for our unique construction and features. We have a light-weight steel construction design that helps us compete with wood/plastic alternatives. Those alternative materials don’t have the stiffness nor the load distribution we are able to obtain with steel. Our unique two-point pick is a very popular feature that helps the crane operator handle the mats using a round nylon sling without the need of expensive shackles, hooks or custom hardware. Being fully engineered with PE stamps behind the design also attracts buyers that are often asked to show documentation on ground stabilization.
How do you characterize the market for boom dollies? Where do you see the most demand in this product line?
Demand for boom dollies is sporadic. The last couple of months we’ve had strong demand but then there are two-to-three-week periods where things get quiet again. We are currently seeing a good amount of activity throughout the U.S. and Canada. Our most popular model is our 3-axle dolly C3 given it can fit a variety of crane makes and models, from 4-axle to 6-axle all-terrain cranes.
What are you most looking forward to after the pandemic is no longer an issue for business?
Besides just being able to approach people without the worry about getting sick or getting someone sick, what I most look forward to is an in-person conference. You can’t replace the interaction and networking power of a conference or exhibit. SC&RA does a fantastic job organizing their events throughout the year, so I am very much looking forward to the next one.
What do you do when you are not working?
I try to stay active. You will find me on a tennis court or breaking a sweat at the gym. I was blessed last month with a baby boy, so the past few weeks have been somewhat intense. We live north of Atlanta, so there is a lot of sightseeing and parks to visit. Non-pandemic weekends, if we’re not grilling out with family and friends, we enjoy going to local parks and suburb city centers. I do Wednesday night dollar bowling with my older brother and, every now and then, we go a few rounds in a Top Golf game.
Did you do anything different during quarantine? Bake bread? Throw pottery?
In addition to my newborn son, I am also a dad of a two-year old daughter. For the first time in many years, I was able to be home for several uninterrupted months. During the quarantine, most of my time was dedicated to her and keeping her entertained. We did a lot of cooking, maybe too much. We also tried a lot of new recipes, particularly on the weekends with close family members.