Boom Truck Helps Kuehn’s Crane Service Keep Lifting
A One-Man Operation: Right Equipment and Rigging is Key to Success for Kuehn’s Crane Service
A one-man lifting operation in Minnesota and all over keeps customers happy and calling on him again and again.
“It’s a one-man show,” says Larry Kuehn, of Kuehn’s Crane Service of Cannon Falls, Minnesota. “My wife, Susie, takes care of the paperwork.”
Kuehn works from sunrise to sunset, driving from job to job. Although most everyone wants a 7 a.m. start, he works with his regular customers to spread the lifts throughout the day.
“They work with us and adjust their schedules,” Kuehn says. “We are fortunate to have the customer base that we do. Without the great customers we have, we would not be where we are today.”
Many of his customers have been with him since the start of the business in 2001. Kuehn’s rarely turns down a job, even those with difficult job-site conditions.
“All jobs are a little bit different because of the site conditions,” Kuehn says. “But when you’ve been doing this as long as we have, chances are we have done something similar. There are not too many surprises.”
Kuehn says arriving at the job site with the right equipment and rigging is key to a successful job. He carries plenty of supplies and equipment with him.
A New Truck Boosts Business
Kuehn’s Crane has purchased several cranes from Aspen Equipment in Minneapolis, during the past 18 years. Founded in 1926, Aspen specializes in truck up lifts, grapples and boom truck products. It now operates four offices in Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa.
“Aspen has real good service people,” Kuehn says. “If you get in a bind, you just give them a call, and they will take care of you.”
As a one-man operation, if the crane goes down, no lifts can take place until it is fixed. The Kuehns appreciate Aspen Equipment’s fast response and its skilled technicians who can make repairs rapidly.
“You hate to disappoint the contractor you are working for,” Kuehn says. “You are costing them money, and it’s costing you money.”
The crane company’s newest addition, a Manitowoc crane, increased the business’s lift capacity and the number of jobs it could handle. Kuehn says he likes to upgrade to a bigger machine every five years or so.
“Everybody likes to see new equipment on job sites, especially the state inspectors,” Kuehn says. “Everything is getting bigger and higher and farther away. We get a little bigger with each purchase.”
The Manitowoc NBT 55L Boom Truck has a 151-foot, five-section main boom from Aspen Equipment. It has a 50- and 55-ton capacity. It offers a 36-foot lattice jib for a maximum tip height of 202 feet, which can be tilted. It increases the lift capacity.
“It is not necessarily the largest boom truck in the Twin Cities area capacity wise, but as far as a boom, it is the largest boom truck in the city now,” Kuehn says. “It’s a hell of a machine. For a person who owns the truck and runs it, I wouldn’t run any other crane.”
The NBT 55L has a hydraulically removable counterweight to switch from 50- to 55-ton capacity based on counterweight. The removable counterweight package increases the roadability options. The truck also has an optional wind speed sensor and a two-camera system to view the counterweight.
“The real advantage is the load chart, the capacity the crane will lift,” says Bruce Harrod, Territory Sales Manager at Aspen.
The boom truck also comes with fully integrated machine control, a load moment indicator and an outrigger beam position sensing system to help with load chart selection.
“The big thing about this crane is it has a lot more stability than other cranes on the market,” Harrod says. “They like the feel of it. It is not so flexible. It does not have flex in the boom.”
Aaron Carlson, Sales Support Manager for Aspen, adds, “It feels very stable. And it is federally bridge legal. You can go down a road without getting a permit.”
Striving for Exceptional Service
Larry and Susie Kuehn founded their business on September 10, 2001. He recalls it as a scary first day, watching the terrorist attacks on the country on 9/11. It was a day of surprise and uncertainty about the future.
“I was scared to death,” Kuehn recalls. “We did not know what was going to happen. There was so much devastation to the country. But like with any tragedy, people move on. We had a slow period, but we never thought about getting out of the business.”
The couple aimed to deliver exceptional residential, commercial, and heavy industrial crane service throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, and beyond. “I will go anywhere someone pays me to travel,” Kuehn says.
Kuehn had worked for a crane rental company for 22 years and operated multiple cranes of various capacities from six ton to 250-ton.
“I always wanted to be self-employed,” Kuehn says. “I was getting to the age where if I didn’t do it then, I would always wonder. I knew if I could get the crane, I was confident I could get the work.”
Susie Kuehn reports the couple thought about forming their own company for a long time, considering the pros and cons.
“He is a hard worker, so I knew there wouldn’t be a problem,” says Susie.
Kuehn’s Crane Service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Kuehns rarely take a vacation.
“We enjoy getting up every day and ready to go out and make those dollars,” Kuehn says.
Lifts may include air conditioning equipment, roofing materials, erecting precast and steel buildings, installing signs and cell towers, and assisting glaziers, electrical contractors or tree services.
“Being in the crane business, you never know where you are going to go the next day,” Kuehn says.
The company is a disadvantaged business enterprise, a minority business enterprise and a union contractor. Kuehn holds CCO Mobile Crane Operator certification.
“We are professional, whether it’s a big job or a little job,” Kuehn says. “That’s what we deliver.”