Allegiance Crane & Equipment President Jim Robertson got his start in the crane business by accident.
“I arrived in Florida in 1982 and worked as a carpenter for a company setting trusses in July, in 100-degree heat,” he says.
He quickly realized that “beating down plywood” was not what he wanted to do.
Seeing a crane on the jobsite he was working on, he was intrigued.
“I looked down and saw an operator sitting in a crane, setting the trusses,” he says. “I thought this would be a much better job.”
The very next day he landed a job as an oiler for a crane operator at a local crane company. Robertson was fascinated with cranes and the work they could do. He quickly moved into the operations side of the business and the rest is history.
After 25 years building and growing General Crane USA, Robertson and Prophet Equity Group purchased the assets of General Crane and formed Allegiance Crane & Equipment. Over the past two-and-a-half years, the company has been in a high growth mode, updating its fleet and acquiring crane companies throughout the southern United States. Based in Pompano Beach, FL, Allegiance has branches in Houston, TX; Marion, TX (San Antonio) and Carrizo Springs, TX.
Robertson alluded that Allegiance would have more offices in other locations soon.
“Our goal is to be the preferred single source provider of crane, rigging and hoisting rental services,” says Robertson. “Our plan is for the long term.”
While the company has been building its fleet through the acquisition of other companies, the Allegiance team has also been buying new cranes.
I was able to meet up with Robertson at a grand opening event for a new Liebherr facility in the Miami area in June. At the event, three new cranes sporting Allegiance logos were on display, one crawler and two all-terrain cranes.
Each crane was adorned with the Allegiance name and logo, as well as a stylized name, much like you’d see on a WWII Bomber or Fighter plane.
“Yes we have given some of our signature new cranes names,” he says. “They are all names that have a history or a meaning. Most are named after significant females in the Allegiance family.”
We chatted for a bit, and Robertson was able to offer a lot of insight about everything from the Allegiance strategy to the economic outlook for the crane industry. He is very interested in politics and has worked with the Florida Crane Owners Association and the Florida ABC on lobbying the Florida State Legislature on legislation favorable to crane owners.
“I’m looking for pro-business solutions,” he says. “That’s the key to keeping people at work.”
Robertson is also passionate about building a team of people who enjoy their jobs, are well paid and who are the very best at what they do.
“I’m a relationships guy and that starts with our Purpose Partners (employees),” he says.
In Florida, most of the Allegiance team has been with him for a long time. As for the new members of the Allegiance team, he says they are getting to know the culture, which is a family type atmosphere.
“When you walk down our halls, you can feel it,” he says of the culture and positive attitudes of the Allegiance team. “You need to invest in your people. We have been adding a lot of jobs.”
As of June 2013, the company employed about 240 people in Texas and Florida.
Robertson says while Allegiance has been acquiring new companies at a rapid pace, he says the process requires a lot of due diligence.
“We have a strong fund behind us, and that’s good,” he says. “But we have to make sure it’s the right fit.”
Diversity of services is also a key strategy for Robertson and his team.
“We want to take our rigging services to another level,” he says. “We just finished at a pipe manufacturing facility in Corpus Christi that we accomplished with flying colors. We want to do more crawler work and heavy haul work as well.”
The company’s fleet includes rough terrain, tower cranes, all terrains, boom trucks and hoists. He says the company has a lot of work on the books throughout Florida and in South Texas. Work has been steady and the pace has been fast, he says.
“It’s a fast-paced business,” he says. “I love that part of it. Fast paced. That’s me. I like to be moving.”
What is the evolution of Allegiance Crane & Equipment?
Thirty-two months ago, I and the team at Prophet Equity Group, founded by Ross Gatlin, purchased the assets of General Crane USA, which began the birth of Allegiance Crane & Equipment, LLC.
What is the scope of operations of Allegiance Crane?
Allegiance offers a wide array of services to several major industries across the southern United States including commercial construction, petrochemical, HVAC and the oil and gas refinery sector.
The company combines modern equipment with highly trained operators to provide the most up-to-date service in the industry. Allegiance’s single source provider approach also allows us to supply equipment for all phases of a job from start to finish and everything in between.
We furnish rough terrain cranes coming out of the ground, tower crane service from 140 meter ton to 630 meter ton, large hydros to finish up specialized heavy picks at the end of the project along with providing state-of-the-art Alimak and Pega personnel and material hoists and other specialized tools and accessories to meet any rigging needs.
Allegiance Crane & Equipment has performed rigging services for generators and electrical communication, HVAC, medical and industrial equipment and roofing. Allegiance Crane is the full service solution to get the job done safely, efficiently, on schedule, and within budget.
How do you characterize the Florida economy?
The Florida economy is coming back strong, especially in the multi-family sector.
How do you characterize the market for cranes in the geographic areas that you serve?
Very diverse, from commercial to all types of industry.
What about the tower crane market? How would you describe it?
Supply and demand is showing signs of a comeback in certain regions. Pricing is showing a slow return to acceptable rates.
What do you like about working in this business?
The people! Those we work with and those we work for.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
That limited time is spent with my young children and amazing wife.