Wood's CRW Corp.

With a firm focus on heavy construction equipment distribution, Wood's CRW Corp. has grown from its origins 50 years ago in Vermont and has a presence throughout New England and New York. The company has a team of specialized sales and product support professionals that understand customers’ needs and can devise equipment solutions.

Currently, CRW has offices in Burlington, Vt.; Worcester, Mass.; Syracuse, N.Y.; and remote field service in Bangor, Maine. The company has two divisions – one focused on cranes and lifting equipment, the other on earthmoving. CRW’s crane and lifting division covers all six New England states and all of New York other than New York City and Long Island, while the earthmoving division is focused on Vermont.

“Quarry, aggregates and site development contractors, as well as small utility and landscape contractors, are a big part of our earthmoving customer base,” President Chris Palmer says. “Crane and lifting focuses on infrastructure, heavy highway, crane and rigging companies, steel erectors, commercial roofers and tree removal companies. Our crane and lifting division covers a broad swath of the northeastern United States and Canada.”

From the Ground Up

On the earthmoving side, CRW is Vermont’s Volvo dealer for equipment such as wheel loaders, excavators, skid steers and backhoe loaders. In 2011, CRW was presented with the Volvo Mark of Excellence Award. CRW was one of only nine dealers in North America to receive that award in 2011. Beyond Volvo, the division represents brands like Terex /ASV Track Loaders, Fecon Mulching Heads and FRD Kent Hydraulic Hammers.

“Volvo equipment is higher-end, but it has a significant advantage with operating costs and their safety and environmental record,” Palmer says. “Volvo has been on the forefront of telematics and remote machine monitoring. All the larger machines we sell come with a standard three-year CareTrack system for remote monitoring and repair diagnostics.”

As for crane and lifting, CRW offers Link-Belt cranes, including rough terrain, telescopic truck, truck terrain, all terrain, lattice crawlers, lattice trucks and telescopic crawlers. The company has been a top five Link-Belt dealer over the past decade.

Other products include National Crane Boom Trucks, Tadano’s Boom Trucks, Shuttlelift’s carrydeck industrial cranes and Genie’s telehandlers. CRW stays on top of crane and lifting trends. Palmer says there has been a movement toward machines with greater capacity that transport more easily and can be moved and assembled with fewer trailer loads.

“Some Crawler cranes used to take days to put together and now that can be done in hours,” he says. “That helps contractors reduce their costs. Our fleet now has rough terrain cranes up to 110 tons.”

CRW is adding mini cranes, too, which will fit where no other machine will go and are powered either by diesel or electric motors.  In both divisions, CRW only deals with top tier manufacturing partners because they have the best equipment and understand how important it is to take care of the end customer.

More than Iron

Beyond a broad portfolio of offerings, CRW looks to create partnerships with customers rather than a preference for one and done sales. By caring more about long-term partnerships than short-term sales, the company has become a solutions provider that does more than sell iron.

“Partnerships with customers help us grow in infrastructure and energy,” Palmer says. “We work with some heavy highway contractors who have expanded into wind energy and grew along with them.”

Investing in people and training has also been a key part of CRW’s strategy. Palmer says the organization has low turnover and a culture that is like an extended family. Team members need to be well informed of their responsibilities so they will take ownership in the company’s success. As a result, the company has assembled a team of about 50 employees who are fully able and committed to providing timely solutions based on customers’ success.

The company has also increased the size and breadth of its rental fleet because the economy has caused many companies to push equipment ownership risk to distributors and crane service companies.

“We’ve invested in increasing our rental machines and options for rental-purchases for higher ticket items,” Palmer says. “That gives flexibility to customers in terms of returning machines or buying over time.”

CRW is working to find the right balance between rental fleet options and meeting customer demands without taking on too much inventory risk. Other concerns include the tax environment, the cost of healthcare and government authorization of only a two-year highway bill.

No matter the challenges, CRW plans to be around for another 50 years. The company will continue to make long-term investments in people, facilities and equipment offerings. The company’s strategy is to play offense and reinvest in its future so it can evolve and provide more creative solutions to customers.

“Strong partnerships with customers help us provide better solutions,” Palmer says. “For top-50 U.S. contractors or small mom-and-pop operations, we must listen to customers and provide the right solution.”

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