A major focus of the new full-service maintenance facility in Nitro (WV) is the customization, rebuild, and repair of crawler cranes. The location, central to most of the ALL Family branches, raises the bar for customer service capabilities company-wide.
With its central location among ALL’s branches, Nitro was chosen to house ALL’s new dedicated rebuild facility on just over five acres of land acquired in 2015. The new facility, referred to as the “Annex,” is about a mile away from the company’s original, full-service Nitro location. There are six buildings in the new complex, allowing for every type of work—from minor repairs to major rebuild projects—to support the entire ALL Family network of branches. The unique new service hub has dramatically enhanced the company’s future as a center for repairing and rebuilding lifting equipment—their own, or even a customer’s equipment.
Annex operations are linked to the original Nitro location, but the facility operates as a stand-alone in the services they provide. The new Annex is like the center of a wheel whose spokes fan out in all directions—to every ALL location, every job, every customer. The pivotal geographic position is a major advantage, whether Annex employees are fixing machines to send to customers in the Carolinas, sending equipment to a job in the Bahamas, or providing a replacement crane for a job in southern Illinois. The Annex joins the branches in a new way and helps expand the entire ALL Family’s ability to quickly provide the equipment and parts customers want and need, with less downtime.
The Annex’s work mirrors, supplements, and adds to that which is done at the company’s headquarters in Cleveland. Specifically, its wheelhouse includes repair and maintenance of crawler cranes, including specialty technical welding, machining, track repair, and even customization of machines for specific jobs. This type of work for ALL’s crawlers is no easy feat; the company has the largest privately owned fleet of crawlers in the nation, ranging from 75 USt to 1,000 USt in lifting capacity. But it’s not just crawlers—the talented crew works on all types of equipment, including all-terrain cranes, rough-terrain cranes, tower cranes, aerials, trucks, and trailers.
With the addition of the rebuild center, ALL has raised the bar on customer service with greater capacity and expanded capabilities. “The new land and property has allowed us to move truck and trailer repair out of the main facility and into its own building at the Annex, for example,” said Nitro General Manager Chad Shamblin. “We can now work on many more pieces of equipment at one time, increasing efficiency and making for faster turnaround on repairs. For example, with our own in-house fabrication and machine shop here, we can handle many jobs that previously would have had to be sent to Cleveland, or outsourced,” he continued. “The undercarriages of cranes are in better condition because of our ability to do complete rebuilds in house. Frankly, we are lucky to be in this particular geographical area. The availability of many highly skilled workers here made it easy for us to decide to build here. With the Annex, we can deliver better, more comprehensive, and faster service across the board.”
The Annex employs approximately 25 people and plans to add additional staff who will specialize in painting and sandblasting. ALL puts each employee through detailed training and testing to ensure that they can skillfully repair, maintain, and rebuild every piece of equipment, top to bottom, down to the final coat of paint.
Shamblin has been with the company since 1995. In a story that echoes that of many other longtime ALL employees, he began his tenure with the company at a young age and worked his way up. He’s worked as a mechanic and repair technician. So, as a manager, he was acutely aware of how stretched to the limits the original location had become after 30 years.
In 2010, the branch moved to its West 19th Street location. But, as company-wide business grew more rapidly, Nitro was undertaking more repairs and needed to transport equipment even more frequently. It was clear that the branch needed more space dedicated solely to the specialty of rebuilds and repairs. In 2015, ALL purchased the nearby property (five-plus acres) as soon as it came on the market and immediately began making plans for the new Annex.
Rehabilitation and construction took a year and a half. Each of the six buildings on the site had to be completely overhauled and customized to suit ALL’s rebuild needs. The buildings became:
- a truck and trailer repair shop,
- a wash bay and prep/staging area,
- a parts warehouse and office,
- a sandblasting and painting building,
- and a fabrication and welding shop.
- The sixth building is rented to an electrical contractor who contracts with the company on select projects.
The Hawthorne Effect
Such is the positivity that’s become pervasive in the Nitro Annex. All of the Annex employees are new to the company, although not to the area. Once a busy mining and industrial town, Nitro and its state have watched income from mining and manufacturing decline sharply, leaving many skilled workers unemployed. These local workers have found new careers with ALL. Initially, Nitro hired 20 employees for the Annex and added an additional 15 people throughout fall 2016, bringing the total number of employees, both at the sales branch and the Annex, to approximately 100, with more positions to fill.