Since Scott and Peter McLeod took over the family crane hire business in 2012, it has tripled in size, despite operating in a tough economy. While the brothers say exponential growth came from choosing the right niche, they also credit their class-leading systems and use of innovative technology for taking their business to the next level.
Scott and Peter joined the 10-year-old family company in 2005, when their late father Curly McLeod was diagnosed with cancer. Previously, Peter, a professional engineer, had worked on heavy lift construction, while Scott had a background in electronics, working in computer systems and programming. Their diverse skill sets have had a positive effect on the McLeod Cranes business, with the brothers tapping into their own expertise to develop new systems and technology to make their operation more efficient and customer focused.
Boosting growth and revenue through increasing efficiency and productivity is a key focus for many New Zealand Mid-Market businesses, with the recent GE Capital New Zealand Mid-Market Report 2014 showing that 65 per cent of Mid-Market businesses are concentrating on this as a key growth activity this year.
Today McLeod Cranes, based in Tauranga with offices in Taupo and a presence in Kawerau and Taranaki, has a team of 44 and operates in four main fields: lift engineering, crane hire, Hiab transport and drilling rig logistics. Peter is a director and the company's engineer, Scott, the managing director.
"More often than not we can be found right across the central North Island and often have Hiabs in Auckland, Hamilton and the greater Bay of Plenty," says Scott. This ever-extending geographical reach led to the two directors taking steps to modernise the way the company is run.
"Peter, in the field, changed the way we plan and manage our onsite operations while I looked at how best to organise internal and staff issues more effectively and efficiently and what systems we could use to achieve this," says Scott.
One of Scott's solutions was the app vWork App.com, which helps communications between head office, their team and customers. The app was designed by Visfleet, a company chaired by Trade Me founder, Sam Morgan.
"We are working with his team, led by Brendon Petrich, to customise vWorkApp for our industry. It's a very powerful planning tool for managing our assets and team. It directly connects the dispatcher to our workers in the field, providing written instructions and job-specific steps which are recorded and reported back to our office. This allows our team to tailor each job and its requirements to each customer."
The vWorkApp provides clear transparency on the current workload, with completed jobs flowing through to invoicing.
Using this app and other technology has helped McLeod Cranes manage growth and enabled Scott to lead an outstanding team.
"Our systems allow us to view the big picture. We can report and learn from our own information. We can see and understand our industry better and through this understanding we can change our approach - and do so quickly."
It is not just about the apps the company is using, it is the use of systems in every area, says the managing director.
"It's about our comprehensive health & safety systems, our environmental accreditations, our continuous improvement approach, together with our training investment in every member of our team," says Scott.
He says the focus on systems and technology has also assisted in attracting high calibre and engaged employees: "Because we are using high levels of technology and computer systems, we are attracting younger like-minded individuals to the business."
The GE Capital New Zealand Mid-Market Report 2014 shows that Mid-Market businesses (those that turn over between $2-50m annually) take the role of leading in their industry seriously, determined to set the standard through new ideas and innovation. McLeod Cranes is no exception.
"There is no doubt that our investment in these professional and technical systems and in our team culture have set us ahead of usual sector standards," says Scott.
"On a national level we are participating in a number of projects to improve safety within our industry. So we are working on things such as the Crane Safety Manual rewrite, Concrete Panel Erection Code of Practice review and on further industry guidance material through the Crane Association of New Zealand."
For more information on McLeod Cranes, see www.mcleodcranes.co.nz
For more insights into the state of the Mid-Market in New Zealand, download the GE Capital New Zealand Mid-Market Report 2014