Newcomer leads revival of Sany America cranes
By D.Ann Shiffler09 May 2022
Sany America Crane Group Vice President Doug Newcomer is leading a highly vetted team that is keenly focused on bringing success to the Sany America crane product line.
He terms this opportunity as “the next step in a 15-year run.” Sany introduced its first crane line in the U.S. in 2006. While Sany cranes are well received globally, Newcomer said they weren’t tailored to the North American market.
“Here, everything is about product support and customer service,” he said. “If you don’t have the parts to fix the product, things are not going to work.”
After its first foray into the American crane market, Sany regrouped. Famed crane designer/engineer John Lanning was recruited from Manitowoc to design cranes specifically for the North American market. Ultimately, he designed some “amazing cranes,” Newcomer said, including the SCC series of crawler cranes.
“They were really good machines but if something broke, again, the parts were hard to get, and it took too long to get a crane fixed and back on the job,” Newcomer explained. “They had good cranes, but customer service and product support still weren’t in place.”
Fast forward to today. This time, under the leadership of Sany America CEO Doug Friesen, things are different, Newcomer said. Friesen – who has direct crane industry experience and has held executive positions with Terex, JCB and Crosby Group – has been focused and deliberate about relaunching cranes into the North American market.
“This time, it’s all about product support and customer service,” said Newcomer. “Everything has been put into place. No machines will go out until they are tested and proven in North America, and until there are parts on the shelves to support them. We will sit on a machine until we know that we can support it. Doug has backed our team 100 percent, and he leads with that philosophy. We will ride the coattails of his success with the rest of the company and push it forward.”
I met with Newcomer and his recently assembled “crane team” at the SC&RA Annual Conference in Washington D.C. last month. Dressed in matching Sany America golf shirts with “crane team” embroidered on the sleeve, the four gentlemen have an impressive pedigree in the crane business.
“We put ‘crane team’ on the shirt,” said Newcomer, “but really, we are a crane family. We were all a part of a crane family before, and it’s still the same. Our family just relocated.”
Newcomer is referring to the fact that the Sany crane team previously worked together at Link-Belt Cranes. Along with Newcomer, the team includes Brian Smoot, Lead Crane Product Manager, Team Lead; Joel Hicks, Product Manager Crawlers; Sam Meroney, Eastern North America Sales Manager; Scott Dighans, Western North America Sales Manager; and Kevin Valentine, Training Specialist, Cranes.
Newcomer has been in the crane business for all of his professional career. He started out as a salesman for Link-Belt crane distributor Crane Sales and Service. Like many people in the business, Hugh Murphy was his mentor.
“He’s an amazing individual,” said Newcomer. “He knew cranes inside out. I owe that guy everything when it comes to being in the crane industry.”
He did two stints at Link-Belt as a district sales manager, working with an end user for a time in between.
Newcomer and the Sany cranes team made their official debut together at the SC&RA Annual Conference Products Fair. In our meeting at the conference, I found him to be candid, straightforward and honest about the challenge of taking Sany America to new heights in the crane market. He is a sharp and focused, genuine and personable. Like most crane salespeople, Newcomer is likable and easy to talk to.
What led you to this role with Sany America?
It was not just one thing, but multiple things. Brian Smoot [taking the job at Sany] was the first thing. Our relationship goes back 16 years. If there was a problem out in the field, I always knew Brian could take care of it, night or day. It’s a rare thing to find someone who will answer the phone after hours. Brian does that. So, Brian taking the job at Sany spotlighted the whole thing for me.
That rolls into looking at the leadership of Doug Friesen and talking to him and seeing the opportunity. Doug’s leadership style is as a servant leader. With this type of leadership, servant leadership, we work to serve each other and make decisions together. The goal is to make the right decisions the first time.
Then it was the quality of the product. You have to look at the product because your name is going to be with that product. I believe in these cranes. There’s a value in the Sany product. In the 20 years I’ve been in the industry, I’ve seen quality go down and prices go up. The amazing thing to me is that the quality is as good or better than anything out there. But price wise, these are still affordable cranes. As Doug says, “Sany makes you money.” You can get into a quality machine right out of the chute.
So, you have the leadership, the team, the product and the commitment to product support. It all fell into place. To be considered on this team was an awesome opportunity.
My role is sales, but really, I’m more of a cheerleader. These guys are the brains – the smart people. Ultimately, it’s my job to make sure these guys have everything they need. They are the best in the business.
Sany is a huge force in construction equipment manufacturing globally, and they have been around a long time. Sany is Number 4 globally in terms of construction equipment, behind Caterpillar, Komatsu and XCMG.
We are being very methodical about bringing in new products in North America. The biggest part of this is that we can support these machines and that they are made for the North American market.
Do you anticipate new product offerings soon?
Just the tip of the iceberg is showing right now. The product line will be vast and extensive, and it will cover many crane classes. Again, the number one goal is product support and making sure we are in the position to support the products, first and foremost. We are already building with Tier 1 components. Our engines, winches and many of the components in our cranes are the same ones used in all the other cranes in the market. These machines are being fully vetted. This is our third shot at this; we are going to get it right.
The traditional route to market for cranes is evolving. Do you envision Sany continuing with a distributor network or do you see other routes to market?
A quality distributor network is always going to be, in our mind, the way to go to the market. Building out a dealer network and assuring they can offer the level of product support required is very important. We are being slow and methodical about signing up dealers. We have a dealer development group in place, and it is comprehensive. We want to make sure we are getting the right people out there to support this product. We want to be in a true partnership with our dealers.
With the new team and a new focus of the crane group, what will distinguish Sany cranes in the market?
Product support. We will by far exceed what our competition is doing. We have the best-in-class standard warranty, three years or 3,000 hours. Most standard warranties are one year and 1,000 or 1,200 hours. We are standing by our product with a strong warranty.
What keeps you engaged in the crane industry?
The people. The crane world. It’s not an industry to me. It’s a world. The people in the crane world, when we get together for events, it’s a giant family reunion. Catching up with the people you do business with is just so fun. It’s really an amazing industry.
What is your business philosophy?
I believe we are here to love and serve one another. I take that into what we do in the crane world/crane industry. We need to serve one another. We need to lift each other up.
What do you do when you are not working?
I enjoy spending time with my family, watching my girls play sports, and to be outside and active as much as possible. I have three daughters. One is a freshman in college, and the middle one is graduating high school next month. The youngest is thirteen. Having daughters is amazing. There was a time when I couldn’t put on a piece of clothing without glitter somewhere.