Global SA crane group reaches half-century

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Pre-sink portal crane designed and manufactured by Condra

Condra, South Africa’s home grown global crane manufacturing group, turned 50 on June 24, half a century after modest beginnings as a local drawing office based in Braamfontein. Today, the group has factories on three continents producing hoists, end-carriages, singlegirder and double-girder overhead travelling cranes, portal cranes, bridge cranes and cantilever cranes for markets worldwide.

Founder Josef Kleiner remains group owner, with the company being family managed. There are no external shareholders.

Under pinning this remarkable success story is a very tight focus on quality and rugged reliability. Overhead cranes are designed and assembled to specification from hoists, drives, endcarriages, brakes, gearboxes and some 250 other sub-assemblies produced in-group. Two lines of hoists are manufactured in a number of standard models suited to most mining, industrial and general applications, from 1 to 500 tons. Motors are bought from external suppliers.

Condra’s evolution from local drawing office to global manufacturing group began with the development of the company’s first manufactured components in 1971, and the production four years later of one of South Africa’s first locally manufactured hoists.

Rapid growth followed, necessitating a move in 1976 to premises in Elsburg, south of Germiston, which remained home for more than 30 years, the original factory and office space doubling over that period of time to allow for the development and introduction of a new range of hoists in 1985.

A second range was launched in 1997.

The need for yet more space became apparent during 2006 when the company began manufacturing very large cranes for the mines at Sishen (capacity 150 tons) and Tati (capacity 145 tons) along with a glut of machines of more standard size. Land with an area of 22,000m2 was bought in Gosforth Park, Germiston, and factory space of 9,000m2 was custom designed, built and occupied in 2008.

Transformation from a single entity into a group then followed. Appointment as South Africa’s sole distributor of the Hitachi range of electric chain hoists was announced in 2009, followed quickly by the formation of the first overseas subsidiary, Condra OOD of Pazardzhik, Bulgaria.

Today, entities in the Condra group number nine, with two manufacturing companies in South Africa, one in Chile, one in Bulgaria, and five other associated firms. The parent company and main manufacturing facility remains headquartered in Germiston.

Cranes are designed and manufactured up to and including heavy duty Class 4, and to the standards of ISO, GOST and other internationally recognised quality control bodies.

Condra’s stated intent for the future is to continue to focus on high product quality and lower overall useful lifetime costs for sustainable competitive advantage.

Expansion of the global distribution network is to continue, but without targeting growth for its own sake. Group management is actively courting reputable, respectable companies that can to help achieve this.