One month after the acquisition of Laurent Keller in France, the global specialist in the sale, rental, maintenance and manufacture of tower cranes worldwide, has acquired Compass Equipment Holdings LLC. A structuring acquisition that opens up real prospects for development in the United States.
Uperio sets out to conquer the United States
Compass Equipment Holdings LLC is a company specializing in the sale, rental and service of tower cranes and hoists for construction sites and industrial sites. They are an authorized Potain tower crane dealer and have a long-standing partnership with access solution provider Alimak. The company also provides qualified crane and equipment operators to its customers. Some 70 people work to operate a fleet of 45 tower cranes and 45 hoists across its four depots in Phoenix (Arizona), Las Vegas (Nevada), Denver (Colorado) and Los Angeles (California) . Complementary locations with those of Uperio on the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico (Texas). For Philippe Cohet, president of Uperio, this acquisition is of strategic importance for the group, which thus strengthens its geographical presence in the United States and diversifies its portfolio of equipment and brands. The French leader in tower cranes sees considerable development potential with regard to the sale, rental and maintenance of these two equipment segments. “ We are taking a step forward in our international development. This operation gives a new dimension to Uperio internationally. Beyond geographic expansion and the contribution of turnover of around 23 million euros, we are diversifying our activities across the Atlantic and adding freight elevator rental to our offer. A complementary product to the tower crane that allows the development of synergies between the two product families. With Compass, we are opening up many new fields, complementary to our activities across the Atlantic. “.
Following the integration of Compass, the majority of Uperio’s activity is now carried out outside France, i.e. nearly 60% of a turnover which now amounts to 240 million euros. . “ Markets move in multiple directions. The effects of the profound upheavals affecting the world of construction have an impact on the tower crane sector. This is what prompted, when the company was created, to establish Uperio beyond France, the aim being in particular to free itself from the cycle of the French market, in other geographies, such as the United. Despite currently high inflation, which is creating short-term disruptions in the economy of construction and infrastructure projects, we are convinced of the attractiveness of the markets for our businesses. commented Philippe Cohet. In the long term, our ambition being to make Uperio a leading global group, we will pursue these external growth operations. But we will also develop organic growth. We have a significant margin in the United States, particularly through the base that we are going to increase. Considering that to operate profitably, a depot must have 40 to 50 tower cranes in stock, we are going to invest significantly “. Attentive to external growth opportunities, the president of Uperio remains convinced that the tower crane market, historically very fragmented with many small family businesses, will necessarily concentrate. This applies to most countries in which the company operates. “ The market is complicated and the tower crane rental sector requires the mobilization of a lot of capital, with, sometimes, the need to mount debt in order to develop. This explains why the market is very open and why Uperio is one of the few consolidation players in the sector, analyzes Philippe Cohet. If we refer to what we have been able to observe in the field of the mobile crane, the tower crane is late. The job is very demanding in terms of services. Customers are more and more demanding and it is unthinkable to overlook the safety and quality of equipment and services, while offering the best productivity. This requires having financial means and competent human resourcess”. This particularly constrained context explains the status quo that prevails in this market.
The service dimension is also asserting itself. ” I based Uperio’s entire strategy in France on the assumption of increasing use of tower crane rental by construction companies. The requirements of these users are increasing for reasons of economic performance, security issues, regulatory constraints and human resources problems. The need to improve the efficiency of the site is obvious, by being more productive and by seeking to standardize operations, emphasizes Philippe Cohet. Within the majors and large regional groups, the dimension of material resources in general and crane in particular has been transformed as the geography of their activities was no longer compatible with the geography of their material services. By offering a solution on a national scale with a service that meets their expectations, we have contributed to developing the use of rental “. Although the lines have changed, there is still a lot to be done, particularly in the area of fleet management on behalf of third parties. A service that Uperio offers and which is meeting with growing success. As proof, with the 1,300 cranes in the rental fleet, the company is responsible for the delegated management of more than 500 tower cranes, in the colors of different customers. A strategic activity for the lessor, enabling it to base its logistics base, its human resources and its technical means on an extended service activity. Eventually, the services will be more and more elaborate. Already in the United States and the United Kingdom, companies are moving towards integrated services in which the service provider bears all the responsibility for the complete management of lifting on the site. On the strength of its Anglo-Saxon experience, Uperio is preparing for this demand for a global lifting service in certain countries, including France. Explanation: the “structural” shortage of crane operators on the one hand and the administrative complications induced on the other.
If, since the beginning of the year, the activity has been maintained in France, the schedules of certain construction sites remain disturbed by the shortage which affects construction materials and by the difficulty in renegotiating the price conditions with the investors. The world of tower cranes is not immune to the inflationary context that began before the war in Ukraine. One item is particularly impacted, that of transport, with diesel-related surcharges due to soaring fuel prices. “ In rental, we are still struggling to pass on this increase to our end customers, as the tower crane market is a long-term one. Between the signing of a contract and the start of construction, several months can pass. Inflation is accepted by all. Our customers must accept our request to pass on the price increase in all new contracts to cover our costs, reports Philippe Cohet. In distribution, the price increase of around 15% applied by Manitowoc Potain over the past year is penalizing us, particularly for small erection cranes in which masons are hesitant to invest. The good news is that the difficulties on supplies seem to be settling. The supply chain is stabilizing and delivery capacities are improving “. However, construction companies are taking care to preserve their margins and are having to postpone certain investment projects, auguring for a less dynamic second half, during which activity could contract.
A new base in the Grand Est
The acquisition of this Alsatian company, which has specialized for nearly 40 years in the sale, rental and maintenance of tower cranes, stems from the same logic of market consolidation in France and neighboring countries. In the rental company’s line of sight, Germany, on the border band on which Uperio was not present. An outlet from the Gerstheim headquarters, subject to investments in the park (45 tower cranes).