November 22, 2008 in Voices

Crane inspection company expanding

Juli Wasson
 
J. BART RAYNIAK photo

Bob O’Dea stands in front of an unassembled 1-ton crane his company, PCI, is building for an area foundry.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Bob O’Dea discovered a way to take a crane inspection business to a new level.

Since purchasing Professional Crane Inspections of Liberty Lake earlier this year, the longtime employee relocated it, created an informational and promotional Web site, and developed a DVD of the company’s crane operator training and safety course.

The combination of changes since becoming owner/president in March must be at least partly responsible for the increased demand of PCI services, O’Dea says.

PCI specializes in the comprehensive inspection of overhead cranes, which by federal law must be inspected annually. The company also offers high-capacity load testing, crane construction, heavy maintenance and repair, equipment sales and the operator training software and classes.

“It’s one of those little niche things that once you know about it, it makes sense,” he said of his business that serves a four-state region and competes with national and international companies. “If we keep growing like we have been, within the next six months we probably will need to move.”

O’Dea first relocated the business from the previous owner’s property that was also a home site. The larger facility currently allows for bigger equipment to be built and repaired than before. But now it seems even more room is needed to meet the growing demand for training classes and to stock parts and supplies, as O’Dea says the Web site has boosted calls for a variety of equipment.

Additionally, O’Dea says he’s hoping to hire at least two more employees to bring personnel to eight. He says experienced electricians and welders often transition easily into crane inspection because they adapt that knowledge to the intense certification training course.

No crane part is left untested when his inspectors are on the job. The inspection emphasizes safety and performance and approval places liability on PCI. The company inspects an estimated 2,500 cranes each year in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. An inspection can range from taking one person an hour to two people a 10-hour shift, and can cost from $70 to $1,500 based on size and location.

“Once we do an inspection, we say: ‘Pass or fail,’ ” O’Dea says. “We go through a lot of red tags.”

With a “Do not operate” sign adhered, companies often request repairs on site or opt for their own employees to repair equipment. Samples of bad equipment are used in training classes and include crushed wires, broken gears and worn out chains.

Are you opening a new business in the Spokane Valley? Is your business expanding, moving or remodeling? Are you wondering about that new store that has opened in your neighborhood? Send an e-mail to Juli Wasson at juliwasson@gmail.com or contact us by fax at 927-2175 or by writing to Business Notebook, Valley Voice, 13208 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane Valley, WA 99216.

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