A new ‘heavy’ hitter in town

The Hibbing branch of Vic's Crane & Heavy Haul currently employs five full-time persons, and bare rentals is the main business streaming from this new Range location at 604 W. 41st St.

The ability to both transport and lift things puts Vic's Crane & Heavy Haul, Inc., on a different playing field, according to its leader.

“One of the things that sets us apart from other heavy hauling companies is that we can haul stuff weighing in excess of 1 million pounds,” said Tim Hearty, president and CEO. “We can also transport and lift things, which puts us in a different league.”

And that’s not all that’s unique about Vic’s. Staff has the experience and expertise to assist a client throughout the construction process.

“We have three professional engineers on staff at all times,” noted Hearty. “They do the pre-construction planning. We offer services from the conception of a project in the pre-design planning stages all the way through service completion, so that also separates us.”

Founded in 1951 by the Vic Wenzel family, Vic’s Crane & Heavy Haul has long been committed to providing customers with reliable and competitive service, state-of-the-art equipment and technical expertise.

The Twin Cities-based company focuses on provide hoisting and heavy hauling.

“Vic’s also offers decades of experience in the craning and moving industries,” said Hearty. “Our pride in workmanship shows in our certified workforce as they bring the customer a service they can trust to be both safe and cost-effective.”

And now the big rigs are here in Hibbing — the heart of the Range.

“We expanded in Hibbing on April 1,” said Hearty. “From this location we can better serve Northern Minnesota with our competitive rates and extensive fleet of cranes and specialized rigging tools 24 hours a day.”

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A look back

Vic’s began as a Vic’s Welding Company, a small union shop performing onsite repairs and fabrication in refineries and chemical plants in the area. The company concentrated on establishing Vic’s as an ASME Code shop and maintained “U”, “S” and “PP” code stamps and the National Board “R” stamp to construct, assemble and repair pressure vessels and boilers. VIC’S supplied this service to petro-chemical plants and municipal power plants for over 20 years.

In the early 1970s, VicS identified the need for supplying cranes and moving equipment to its clients and built a fleet of equipment to effectively answer that demand. Over the next two decades, Vic’s continued to purchase large rough terrain cranes for its refinery work and hydraulic cranes for its ever growing day service. The need to transport VIC’S equipment to and from job sites brought an influx of trucks and trailers.

In 1985, with a 13-axle tractor trailer combination, Vic’s Heavy Haul Trucking was started to transport heavy equipment for clients in the area. This fleet quickly grew to include prime movers, Goldhofer platform transporters and gantries for on-site heavy moving.

The Wenzels saw many changes in their company over the years and, in the late 1990s, turned the business over to their three daughters. With new management energy and the industry showing growth into power and wind, the new owners concentrated on growing a less labor intensive business.

In 2001, the welding repair aspect of the business was dissolved and Vic’s Crane & Heavy Haul, Inc. was born. They purchased large crawler cranes to service the heavy lifts in power plants and refineries and continued to purchase larger hydraulic cranes for wind generator erection and maintenance.

Engineering personnel were hired to answer the demand for documentation and graphic representation of critical lifts. The heavy haul division has grown to include new lifting and moving solutions with platform trailers, strand jacks, gantry and jacking systems, and in-house fabrication for special needs in lifting — making Vic’s a front-runner in heavy moving and rigging in the upper Midwest.

With the addition of pre-construction planning services, Vic’s innovative management staff and dedicated employees offer “full service solutions” in hoisting, moving and setting.

“The construction industry continues to evolve,” said Hearty. “However, we still hold true to the values that Vic and Bernice (Wenzel) started the company with: hard work, determination and the view that ‘there is no job too big to be accomplished.’”

•••

At present

Delivering results and value to people and their goals is a privilege the company earns by being

devoted to intangible traits such as integrity, knowledge and dependability, said Hearty.

“We’ve also completed transitioning to a 100 percent employee-owned company through a Employee Stock Ownership Plan,” he noted. “Our goal in doing this is focused on preserving the culture of Vic’s and rewarding the employees who have been instrumental in creating a globally recognized crane and specialized transport company.”

Being employee-owned company provides long-term incentives to deliver the very best in client service and excellence in the crane and heavy haul industry.

“Vic’s employees continue to be driven to focus on customer projects and provide high-quality solutions,” said Hearty. “Further, they are invested to make decisions and efficiently solve problems to benefit our clients and their objectives.”

Vic’s offers specialized services in three areas:

• Cranes: owns and operates its fleet of crane, rigging and heavy haul equipment and supplies. They offer lifting and moving solutions, and dedicate their trained, experienced manpower to safe operations, annual equipment upgrades and certifications.

The types of cranes they have available include: crawler, hydraulic all-terrain, rough terrain, lattice boom truck, boom truck and carry deck.

• Heavy haul: With more than 30 years experience in heavy haul and heavy lift business, Vic’s has the engineering expertise, dedicated technicians and specialized equipment required to assist clients with difficult rigging projects of any size in the power generation, petro-chemical and industrial fields.

It’s fleet of specialized equipment consists of, but is not limited to: hydraulic platform trailer, both self-propelled and pull type; hydraulic gantry systems, hydraulic jack and slide systems; and computer-controlled strand jack systems.

Capabilities include: barge roll on/roll off services, custom fabrication services and detailed engineered lift and haul route planning, including scanning capabilities.

• Pre-construction services: provides clients with a formal method for developing a full-work scope, cost and schedule to perform lift and haul projects. This project management tool allows clients to fully understand and mitigate logistical, budgetary and risk management challenges before work begins.

“We use a team of specialized and experienced engineers and project managers that are equipped with industry know-how and state of the art software,” Hearty explained. “Our team members meet with clients to understand their objectives and help determine the work scope and provide solutions.”

They then incorporate detailed planning and imagery with the use of laser scanners and optical equipment to provide customers with accurate previews of their projects.

“Additionally, we provide full lift planning and haul route surveys, as well as feasibility studies so you are able to plan projects and support requirements in detail,” he added.

The biggest benefit of the pre-construction process is that it takes out many of the unknowns of a project and reduces risks for project owners.

“Having an early and detailed site plan for your crane, rigging or haul projects affords cost savings and helps eliminate run on cost or bid change orders. Cranes and other heavy lift equipment can be very expensive and most successful projects cannot afford to have these resources sitting idle,” said Hearty. “From manpower to equipment, nothing is cheap. Early

and proper planning can save a project unnecessary expenses and stress.”

Over its 65 years of being in business, the company has and continues to hold true to the idea that quality people and quality work make the difference in the worth to customers.

“… We have dedicated ourselves to developing our safety principles, investing in our staff, growing our capabilities and building lasting relationships with the people and businesses of the Midwest,” he noted.

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The move north

“Lifting safety to a higher level” is just one of the company’s many mottos.

Quality and safety are at the forefront of every jobsite Vic’s has the privilege of being invited to, said Hearty.

“It about safety and professionalism,” he said when asked what’s been the key to the company’s decades of success. “… Basically we’re a full service company, and in our view, we’re the best at it.”

Vic’s is just one of the many contractors working on the Highway 53 bridge project in Virginia. The company has been involved in several other Range projects, including working for the mining companies.

“Most of what we do is industrial work and general construction,” said Hearty. “But we’re looking to capture more work in that (mining) arena.”

Other clients in the area include Minnesota Power, Lake Country Power and Virginia Public Utilities, among others.

Setting up a shop in Hibbing simply made sense.

“It seemed to be the place for us to be,” said Hearty of the expansion. “It was always a haul bringing the cranes and other equipment up there then back down here. We’re always doing work up there, and the timing was perfect to do this.”

There’s a demand and niché for what Vic’s offers here on the Range.

“Having the bigger equipment up there in addition to the smaller stuff, and not having to always haul it from here gives us more of a competitive edge,” he said. “The closer the equipment is, the more competitive we can be. We’re hoping to gain more customers there.”

Hearty said they had been eying Hibbing, Virginia and Eveleth for a location. Hibbing was chosen because it’s centrally located and home of Eric Arndt, who had worked for Vic’s in the past and was tapped to be the Hibbing manager.

“And just because we love Hibbing,” Hearty added.

The Hibbing branch currently employs five full-time persons, and bare rentals is the main business streaming from the 604 W. 41st St. location.

Hearty said they are poised to grow not only in clients, but in employees as well.

“Absolutely,” he said. “What we’d like is to have up to 10 full-time persons.”

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