VIKING DISTRIBUTOR SPOTLIGHT | Crane Engineering

Kimberly, Wisconsin

Lance Crane, Owner, President & CEO was interviewed to learn more about the company’s working relationship with Viking Pump.

Background

Wisconsin Ave. location where it all began.

Wisconsin Ave. location where it all began.

Crane Engineering is a third generation, family-owned business that began 80 years ago with founder Herbert Crane, who started the company in 1939, on Wisconsin Ave. in Appleton, WI. At that time, it was a one-man operation, representing two manufactured lines provided by Viking Pump and ITT Goulds Pumps. The initial target market was pulp and paper, with Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Consolidated Papers, Inc. (now Stora Enso) as the first customersboth products are still carried by Crane to this day.

Jim Crane joined the business in 1962 and bought it from his dad in 1968, bringing a sense of creativity and vision that led to diversification into various markets, i.e. general industrial, food, and municipal water and wastewater. He also expanded the product lines to include other types of pumps, as well as valves, mechanical seals and filters. The 4-5-person company continued to grow, adding more people and generating more revenue (reaching $1 million in sales by 1972); until Lance Crane came in 2004, bought the company in 2007, and has taken it to a whole new level, with regards to both corporate performance and culture.  

Perhaps the biggest cultural change has been the introduction of a “people first” attitude wrapped around six core values: 1) Integrity & Respect; 2) Teamwork; 3) Customer focus; 4) Excellence & Innovation; 5) Passion & Energy; and 6) Fun. Having evolved into a business performance management system, these values are the metrics against which everyone in the company is evaluated.

Crane employees celebrating their 80th anniversary this year.

Crane employees celebrating their 80th anniversary this year.

At the end of the year, coveted awards are given for achieving excellence in each category. Crane employees are further incentivized by the “212 Award,” comparable to a most valuable player (MVP) award in sports. Engineers know that at 211 degrees, you have hot water; but at 212 degrees it turns to boiling water. That 1 degree makes all the difference in the world!

Viking Pump would have to agree with these values and performance incentives being critical to overall business success for manufacturers and distributors, alike. At a recent Viking-held meeting, the concept of creating a “friction-less” customer experience was introduced to all distributors, and Crane immediately embraced the idea. According to Lance Crane, “Customer experience is a competitive advantage. It translates to technical solutions, speed of response and ease of doing business.”

Location, Markets, & Products

Work being performed at Crane’s Service and Repair Center.

Work being performed at Crane’s Service and Repair Center.

Crane Engineering is one of the midwest's leading providers of fluid process solutions, and Wisconsin’s largest pump and valve distributor, serving over 3,000 customers in 46 states, Canada and Mexico. They now have 106 office and field employees working at three main locations in in Kimberly, WI, including a Distribution Headquarters, a Service and Repair Center and OptiFlow™ Integrated Skid Systems. A year and a half ago, they acquired RD Smith, a small pump distributor in Eau Claire, WI, which focuses on dairies and other food and beverage companies, currently the #1 market in Wisconsin—surpassing paper.

Crane’s offerings have expanded to include additional top-tier pump product lines, as well as other industrial equipment manufacturers. They also have a division just for handling wastewater equipment; and a small, dedicated division of five people dealing solely in corrosion resistant products (CRP) for application to industrial flooring, grating coatings, wastewater clarifiers/screens, etc. After equipment installs, a large field repair force is available to perform onsite maintenance services.

Combining innovation with giving back to people in need, Crane Engineering applied for (and received) a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that kick-started their mobile wastewater treatment system, Oystra. This exceptional, truck-mounted system is designed to treat human waste in developing countries where no infrastructure exists and curb the discharge of dangerous septage into the environment. Read more about it here.

How We Win Together

Crane Engineering has had great customer success with Viking pumps. Recently, they had a big win with a local Wisconsin food processing plant, where they provided Viking 4724 Series™ stainless steel pump assemblies for a corn syrup application that feeds into different sauces for pouched “steamable” potatoes. The stainless bases and guards supporting the pump components set them apart from the competition. In this case, a collaborative effortwith Viking supplying the pumps and Crane putting the assembly together in their shopresulted in a turn-key package.

Working in conjunction with Viking Pump on this and other jobs, Crane Engineering focuses on helping customers improve fluid process performance and reduce their total cost of equipment ownership, two goals that both companies have in common. Tom Schroeder, District Team Leader, commented, “Viking is a progressive solutions provider, selling the right product for the application and providing long service life for the customer.” No doubt, this is a strategic alliance between like-minded folks, who value continuous improvement. Tom takes it one step further, calling it a “trifecta” between Viking, Crane and the customer. There is also alignment in terms of social media marketing and plans to launch E-commerce to promote pumps in the near future. This is a pair of partners to keep your eyes on…

For more information about Crane Engineering, visit their public website at craneengineering.net.

In 2011 Viking Pump celebrated our company’s 100th anniversary.  As part of the activities we relocated and updated our Viking Pump museum.  Here we include past products and other historical artifacts gathered over the past century to help tell the story of our company and the development of our products to customers and distributors that visit the Cedar Falls facility.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” ― Oscar Wilde

Having a great product, with a great reputation, and being a technology inventor like Viking Pump®, positions you as a market leader with high visibility. As such, other gear pump manufacturers naturally want to follow in your footsteps. While that is a huge compliment, it also causes confusion among gear pump buyers. 

Pye-Barker was founded in the 1930s, when John Pye and Ben Barker decided to start their own company in Atlanta, Georgia. Both Georgia Tech graduates, the pair had been working together at Goodyear when they created a new way to cut conveyor belts into custom links. This was an exclusive, innovative concept in those days for which Pye-Barker became well known.

As the end of 2019 is near, it is not just an opportunity to reflect on this calendar year, but the end of a decade. Viking Pump® is proud to be a company with 108 years of history; built by employees, distributors, and customers with a deep care and understanding of the industry who feel motivated to solve the toughest pumping challenges. Let’s take a walk through some of the highlights of the last decade.

A gentleman once contacted me to let me know that he’d cracked a head, an impressive, but not entirely unheard-of feat. When I asked how this had happened he admitted “well, I was wailing on it pretty hard”; I appreciated his honesty. What followed was a 30-minute conversation full of mis-assumptions and confusion. At the conclusion I discovered that he was not talking about a head (as in the end plate of a gear pump) but rather a head (as in the top of a snare drum). An internet search for “head” had landed him on our site by mistake.