Morrow Equipment Co. L.L.C.
Morrow Equipment Co. L.L.C.
3218 Pringle Road SE
Salem, Oregon 97302
Telephone: (503) 585-5721
Toll Free: (800) 505-7766
Fax: (503) 363-1172
Web site: http://www.morrowequipment.com
Incorporated: 1968 as Morrow Crane Co.
Sales: $50 million (2006 est.)
NAIC: 532412 Construction, Mining, and Forestry Machinery and Equipment Rental and Leasing
Morrow Equipment Co. L.L.C. owns and operates the largest fleet of tower cranes in North America. It is an exclusive distributor for Liebherr cranes, which are manufactured in Germany. Morrow provides construction and materials for a wide range of services at its 23 locations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand.
John and Richard Morrow acquired their first tower crane in 1968. After their father, Bob Morrow, who owned Morrow Construction, used their crane in his construction business, their brother, Bobby, suggested that they buy and rent cranes to building contractors. Seizing upon what proved to be a profitable idea, John and Richard established Morrow Crane Co. Richard worked as crane operator and John as company salesman. The two set out to persuade the construction industry to switch from the then current standard mobile cranes, with ground-level cabs and angled booms, to European-made tower cranes.
In the late 1960s, tower cranes were not commonly in use in the United States. The advantage of tower cranes is that they do not take up a large amount of space on the ground, and they stretch up to 100 stories high, making use of a horizontal boom. The simplest cranes were extended by adding sections of the vertical shaft, which the operator climbed at the start of his shift. Other cranes had the capability of being attached to the side of the building under construction. The crane helped construction workers move equipment and materials around the job site and enabled them to raise whatever they needed, such as buckets of wet cement or steel beams.
Crane operators are, by all accounts, a “special breed,” according to a 2001 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, since their job requires that they possess extraordinary depth perception and provide extraordinary care and attention to detail. Otherwise the cargo they move using the crane could swing into a building or fellow workers. They also need to be extremely coordinated to perform their job. Their left hand operates a joystick that raises and lowers loads. A second joystick, which they operate with their right hand, sends and retrieves the trolley along the crane’s “jib” or arm and rotates the crane jib and cab 360 degrees. Their right foot operates a brake that secures the crane in position. A series of ladders with landings every 20 feet leads to the crane cab, and operators are paid for 30 minutes of climbing to work each day. Because they spend all day alone in a small space high above the ground, some operators equip their crane cabin with air conditioners, microwaves, hotplates, radios, and televisions. With overtime, many crane operators earn more than $100,000 a year.
The Morrow brothers claimed that the tower cranes they provided were faster and more stable than some other cranes and that the operator, who worked in a cab at the top of the tower, had a better view of the job site. Others, too, saw advantages to using tower cranes, and Morrow Crane Co. grew throughout the first half of the 1970s. In 1974, Morrow made a bid to American Pecco Corp., a manufacturer of cranes, to become Pecco’s Northwest dealer. When Pecco rejected that bid, the Morrows raised the stakes by buying the distribution rights to German competitor Hans Liebherr’s tower cranes for Washington and Oregon. Liebherr was the world’s largest maker of tower cranes. This arrangement contributed greatly to developing the business for the next five years.
Then, in 1979, Liebherr decided to get out of the cyclical United States crane business, and Morrow Crane agreed to buy Liebherr’s fleet of nine cranes on the condition that Liebherr grant the company the sole right to distribute Liebherr’s cranes in the United States and Canada.
Following this deal, business for Morrow really took off in the 1980s. The company introduced the first self-erecting tower crane, the Liebherr FasTower, already popular in Europe, to the North American construction industry, in 1981. The self-erecting design of this crane eliminated the main disadvantage of a static tower crane, which was the need for a costly foundation structure and for a second crane to install the tower. The new cranes caught on rapidly, and, by 1982, the Morrow Crane Company could boast that it was “far ahead of where we thought we’d be in sales in one year,” according to an Engineering News-Record article.
In 1982, Morrow built its corporate headquarters on a ten-acre site in southeast Salem. The company developed a fleet of cranes and made a name for itself in the international construction industry. Christian Chalupny, a Liebherr employee, joined Morrow as president and chief executive officer of the company. Offices in Australia and New Zealand followed.
A little more than a decade later, in 1993, with close to 15 offices in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, and employment at 35, Morrow Crane merged with American Pecco Corp. of Millwood, New York, and became Morrow Equipment Co. of Salem, Oregon. Before the merger, each of the two companies had annual sales of about $25 million. Christian Chalupny remained president and chief executive officer of the merged company, whose fleet included about 400 tower cranes and 100 hoists. Hoists are the elevators outside of buildings that lift people and materials. The merger helped the company weather a nationwide slowdown in commercial real estate construction by eliminating significant tower crane competition.
Throughout the mid-1990s, with increased construction, cranes became a constant part of the building landscape. Then, in 1995, Morrow helped put the first tower crane into the natural world as well. The University of Washington and the Wind River Ranger District purchased a tower crane from Morrow for use in observing the forest canopy in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. In 1998, the company helped place a second crane in a lowland tropical rainforest in far north Queensland for use by James Cook University’s Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Rainforest Ecology & Management. Liebherr took four months to build the specially designed crane to Morrow’s specifications. Parts of this crane had to be brought into the forest and lowered to the ground by helicopter.
Morrow is a recognized leader in the lifting equipment industry in applying new technologies with responsive, high quality service and products. With more than 40 years experience, we remain guided by our commitment to product quality, customer support, business integrity and a growing list of satisfied customers.
Between 1998 and 2002, Morrow bought about 200 cranes, bringing its inventory close to 500. By 2001, Morrow was believed to be the world’s largest supplier of tower cranes, with monthly rentals of its equipment ranging from $8,000 to $30,000, depending upon the size of the crane. A typical contract required that the contractor pay liability insurance. By 2004, the company was the 105th largest private company in the state of Oregon.
By 2005, an unforeseen problem had arisen throughout the construction industry. The country was experiencing a building boom, and there were too few cranes to meet demand. In fact, demand was so high that companies had to reserve cranes for use six months or more ahead of time. The situation spelled good news for Morrow, which by then had about 500 cranes, each of which cost upward of $1 million. In response to demand, it moved its cranes frequently around the country and sometimes even across international borders. If business was slow, for example, in the Midwest or California, it would move its cranes to where the work was. On average, eight 40- to 48-foot flatbeds were required to move one crane. These cranes typically rented for $40,000 to $80,000 per month.
“[I]t’s busy everywhere,” Andrew Morrow, Salem regional sales rep for Morrow, told the Seattle Times in 2006. “It’s a struggle right now trying to get people to plan far enough in advance to be sure that we have the tower crane they need.”
Between 2005 and 2006, the company bought more than 100 new cranes, yet it still did not “have enough of them,” according to Chalupny in a 2006 Daily Journal of Commerce article, to satisfy the demands of domestic contractors. “Based on the backlog we have and what we hear from contractors, there’s so much work in the pipeline we don’t see any signs of this cooling any time soon. We see this going on maybe two or three years more.” The company would certainly grow along with the nation’s skylines.
Morrow Equipment Co. LLC Australia; Morrow Equipment Co. LLC New Zealand; Morrow Equipment Co. LLC Canada; Morrow Equipment Co. LLC Mexico.
Potain Tower Cranes, Inc.; Electric Tower Cranes, Inc.; Lorain Division of Koehring Co.; Mobile Crane.
- The Morrow brothers found Morrow Crane Co.
- Morrow buys Oregon and Washington distribution rights to Hans Liebherr cranes.
- Liebherr grants Morrow distributorship rights to all of the United States and Canada.
- Morrow builds its corporate headquarters in Salem, Oregon.
- Morrow merges with American Pecco Corp. and changes its name to Morrow Equipment Co. L.L.C.
“Builders Face Towering Problems: Too Few Cranes,” Seattle Times, December 12, 2005.
Hudson, Repps, “Morrow Equipment of St. Louis Supplies the World Construction Ladders to the Sky,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 5, 2001, p. C8.
Martinis, Cheryl, “Building a Better Crane Company,” Oregonian, December 17, 1993, p. D1.
Prince, Seth, “Skyline Streaked with Towering Cranes, Portland Rising,” Oregonian, April 17, 2006, p. 20.
Reiner, Vivienne, “Tree Rex Evolves,” Weekend Australian, July 4, 1998, p. 50.
“Tower Crane Shortage Means Project Delays for Portland Contractors,” Daily Journal of Commerce, February 7, 2006.