MORITSCH CRANES

Veneto, Italy 2020 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Mariano Moritsch, Managing Director of Moritsch Cranes, on rebuilding a brand, the perception of Veneto abroad, and trends in the construction industry.

How has the company evolved since you restarted it in 2015?

In 2015, I restarted the building industry tower cranes company that my father originally started in 1962. I was able to do this thanks to my extended experience in developing new markets for that company, which I joined in 1986. With our previous company, and thanks to our global expansion, we have built some of the highest and most famous skyscrapers worldwide, including the Shard in London and other prestigious building in the US, Dubai, Singapore, and Seoul among others. We then decided to sell our crane businesses to an American multinational. After a period of time, I realized that most of my old customers and dealers found that the approach by multinational companies in our sector was unsuitable, as contractors or rental companies need quick answers, and a dedicated product. Restarting from zero in a mature field, where there are already large players, was not that easy. The evolution in just four years has been more than expected, and the market really welcomed our approach because, through listening, we take care of our customers' needs. This is the reason for our success: speed of response, quality/price ratio, and product knowledge. Our product range has grown a lot through huge investments, but we can grow much further, as we have just begun.

How do you select the markets you are going to, and what markets would you like to enter?

Having quality on our mind, natural markets for us are the US, the UK, the EU, and Australia. These are countries where technology is required, as well as sophisticated safety controls, which are not mandatory in other less developed countries. There are many other markets I know well where we are not yet present. I want to return to the Middle East. Though it is not a good market now, companies have to be there because of growing neighboring markets like Syria, Kuwait, and Oman. We will have an office in Dubai, from which we will approach the region again. I want to return to being a leader in the UK. There was a small pause this year because of Brexit, but the market is rearing up again. I want to keep an eye on Ireland; there will probably be huge demand there.

What makes Moritsch Cranes unique?

When we erect a crane, for example the cranes that built the Shard, we built three that were special to the building. The façade and structure were unique. We also have to be sure the quality and type of steel is right and of pure quality. Quality control is important. We buy our steel only from the EU. It has to be a certain grade and certification. We are investing large sums of money on creating a product that is safer, trustworthy, and easy to transport and erect. European manufactures can survive only if they create better and safer cranes. We have invested a lot in the technology of our cranes. We have black boxes and can conduct remote diagnostics. If there is an accident, we have all the data recorded in the computer that is driving the crane and we can determine within minutes what happened. We cannot be one of the biggest players, though we do want to be one of the top five in terms of quality, safety, and reliability of the product.

How have your origins from Veneto affected the way the company is perceived abroad?

In our business model today, we do not do any welding because there is no added value. There are many companies in the region that have been making these products for us since my father started. I really wanted to maintain this kind of environment. For multinational companies, if it is cheaper to make a crane somewhere, that is where they will go. They do not care about the environment; however, we do. There is a school here that really knows how to weld. It knows the procedure and what to control when it is manufacturing a certain part of a crane. Welding a crane requires one to consider the fact that people will work at a certain height on the crane as well as below the crane. It is extremely important to ensure quality and safety in such an environment. 90% of the product is made in Belluno valley, and there are many companies here that are world leaders in their field. This region is known for its quality, and it has certainly had an impact on the way we operate. As a result, we are constantly researching and developing sophisticated technologies for our products.

What trends are you seeing in the construction industry?

An Italian construction company 10 years ago used to buy earth-moving machines, cranes, and pavers. It had a huge depot of machines that were used once or twice and were just aging. In some parts of the world, there is a mentality of owning a machine, making it a part of your assets. Few construction companies were buying machines and were instead renting. I felt this would become the wider approach. We have to think about products in this way: modular systems, modular tower sections, ease of maintenance and erection, and interchangeable parts. At the end of 2008, the construction business worldwide changed. We had a drop in turnover by 80% from 2008 to 2009. I believed business would never recover to its previous levels come and that 99% of my future customers would be rental companies, where the builders send their request for a suitable product for each job site. That is exactly what is happening now. A year ago, I made a crane for the US that was completely new. Even if the crane was large, I wanted it to be partially pre-assembled. In 18 months, we built a prototype and sold 10 such cranes to various rental companies. The owner of the second-largest rental company in the US, which has a turnover of USD1 billion, called and asked why we did not invite him. I told him the company was too big for us, though he said this crane was innovative and he wanted to be a distributor. I wanted to sell it on my own to all the rental companies and flew to San Francisco and had a meeting. The company eventually acquired 20% of our company's shares. We are now developing a product alongside its team of engineers that will be even more dedicated to the US.