If you’re new to JT Cranes, maybe you’ve wondered — why JT? Does it stand for something, or does it just sound cool?

Well, we do think it sounds cool, of course, but that’s mainly because it stands for the name of our founder and owner — John Taylor. As he’s now turned 80, this seems a great time to have a look at who John is and how he came to found JT Cranes.


Farming to Roadbuilding

The first steps John took on his career seem a world away from mini cranes. On leaving school, he immediately got a job on a local farm, working as a general farm hand. One thing that did foreshadow his later career, though, was his appetite for hard work. If any overtime was on offer, John would be the first to put his hand up for it.

However, his sights were set on a higher-earning sector than agriculture, so he began looking around for a better-paid job. He got a job in London with a company called Tyler’s, fulfilling commercial grass cutting contracts. Quite soon, though, he was working for John Laing on construction teams for roads.

John started with Laing as a driver, but before long he’d progressed to being a fitter/driver. He’d recently married Penny, and the young couple moved all over the UK, as John worked on various projects, including the A2 in Kent and the M6 near the Lake District. Eventually, he got the position of fitter in charge at Fareham, where he ran a shift while Penny cared for their young family.


Settling Down

By the mid-70s, the children were coming up to school age, and the mobile life they’d been living was no longer ideal. The family settled down, and John got a job with Elstree Plant as a mobile fitter looking after their fleet of crawler cranes.

He then moved on to Liebherr, again as a mobile fitter. This meant that, although the family was now settled, John was spending a good deal time away from home, working all over Europe, as well as carrying out work on oil rigs.


John Taylor Crane & Plant Service

Although John loved the work, it wasn’t ideal to be away from Penny and the children so much, and matters came to a head in 1980, when just before Christmas he asked Liebherr for a rise. Their offer of 10p per hour extra was completely unsatisfactory, but when John tried to negotiate, they told him to “take it or leave it.”

John chose to leave it. He went home that day and told Penny he was setting up on his own.  Over the Christmas holiday, he bought a van and established John Taylor Crane & Plant Service. At this point, realising their bluff had been called, Liebherr upped their offer to £1 an hour if John would stay, but he was already resolved. He wanted to work for himself.

The new business again took John all over the country to work on breakdowns of cranes and other kinds of plant — but this time he was working for himself and setting all the terms.


The Firm Grows

At first, the firm was just John and his van, but such was the demand his quality work created that it was inevitably going to grow. At weekends and during school holidays, his son Russ worked with John. As soon as he was old enough, in 1988, he passed his driving test and got a works van, so that he could go out on his own. Russ quickly became an integral part of the business, building up his own high standards in the same way that John had.

By this stage, John and Russ were in high demand. They worked with all the major crane brands, including Demag, Grove, Tadano — and even John’s old employer, Liebherr. It became clear that they needed to move up a step.

In the mid-1990s, John rented space at Bourn Airfield and took on a team. This enabled them to carry out more substantial repairs onsite, and after a few years they moved to a site at Great Gransden, which had a workshop, which is still JT Cranes’ home. In 2004 the company became limited, with both Russ and Julie Marshall as shareholders, and it celebrated 40 years in 2021.

In 2006 Russ introduced mini cranes into the business, and the firm won the Jekko dealership in 2016.


An Ongoing Story

Now John Taylor has reached 80. A while ago, he stepped back from day-to-day involvement, but JT Cranes is in good hands, with Russ leading us into specialising in mini cranes — though we still offer repairs and servicing. John continues to take a keen interest in everything that goes on.

Do you want to know more about the unique family firm that John and his family built up from nothing?

Give us a call and see how we can help you.

No matter what your situation or sector might be, a mini crane is always worth considering. So, if you’re looking to renovate a building, build a shopping centre, or even film an upcoming movie — we’d love to hear from you.

Cranes are complex pieces of machinery that, when operated correctly, can save massive amounts of labour time, and effort for a vast range of sectors.

Yet many forms of hazards can arise from their use, so it is important for any crane operator to be familiar with a crane’s controls, its limits, and operational guidelines to avoid these hazards.

The most common hazards of crane use include overloading of cranes and materials falling/slipping from grabs and hoists.

According to Safety Now IFT, just over half of all fatal crane injuries involved the worker being struck by an object or equipment. Around three-fifths of these cases (91 of 154) involved a worker being hit by a falling object or piece of equipment; in 79 of these cases, the worker was struck by an object falling from or put in motion by a crane.

Many of these accidents can arise from incorrect crane operation, which is why the safety training is so important in ensuring that crane operators are competent and qualified to do the job.

At JT Cranes, we run through a handover and crane familiarisation when a customer purchases a new crane. These crane safety briefings are important to ensure the operators follow the correct guidelines for safe operation of the crane – thus avoiding accidents and hazards.

Aftersales and mini crane safety training at JT Cranes

Here, we cover what happens after a customer purchases a mini crane from us, and some of the key safety and familiarisation training used when handing over a new crane to a customer.

  1. Final check – Pre-delivery inspection (PDI)

Before we hand over your new crane, we undertake a thorough pre-delivery inspection, which includes a visual walk-through of the crane, and a set of operational tests. This inspection ensures that the crane is in 100% perfect condition before being handed over to you.

  1. Driver familiarisation with safety training

When we are satisfied with the PDI, we then arrange to go through our Driver Crane Familiarisation Operation Safety Training with you. The safety briefing and familiarisation is designed to enable the crane operator to understand the functions as well as the proper and safe use of the specified crane.

Each point of the safety training is explained by a competent individual to the intended crane operator, who should also indicate that they have received the training and understood what has been explained.

The process follows a set structure and is completed in writing at the time when the training and familiarisation takes place, or shortly thereafter.

Crane safety training explained

The crane safety training delivered by JT Cranes consists of a multipoint process, whereby every key feature of the crane is described and guidelines for its operation are explained.

Here we cover a few of the essential ones.

The safety training starts with a general orientation walk round of the crane, including an explanation of the features and all the warning decals displayed on it.

As with any powered vehicle, it’s important to keep an eye on all gauges and respond with appropriate action to any warning light. Knowing what each gauge and warning light is indicating is vital for correct crane operations.

Every crane is designed to lift a Maximum Rated Load (also called Maximum Rated Capacity). This MRL depends on different crane configurations, because the lift capacity varies depending on the distance and the angle of the lift, and covers the full weight lifted by the crane.

Crane operators must know how to calculate a crane’s lifting capabilities using a rated load chart. This ensures that the crane does not exceed its lifting capacity.

The fly jib allows the crane operator to lift a load and then place it into a specific target area. Fly jibs are often used to lift materials on a multi-story construction site to height and place them inside the building.  Crane operators must know the correct and safe procedure for attaching, operating, and detaching the fly jib as required.

  1. Safety and Information Manual

On completion of your driver familiarisation, you will receive a safety and information manual specific to your crane for you to refer to at any time.

  1. Customer service – Support and guidance over the phone
    And, our support does not end once we hand the keys over – we are still there for you, at the end of the phone for any advice, should you need us.

Your safety is our priority

When you buy a crane from JT Cranes, your safe operation of the crane is a major priority for us.

That’s why every crane we supply is accompanied by our multipoint safety training process, ensuring that your crane operators know are familiar with the functions, and, most importantly, with the safe and proper procedures for operating the crane.

Ryan Skelton, of Greenworx, said of the driver familiarisation training;
“It was super informative and covered everything our team needed to know in order to use the JF545 V-MAX safely. All of the bases and functions of the crane to ensure we had all the information needed before taking the crane away. It’s also great to know that Wayne and the rest of the JTC team is on the end of the phone, if we do need help.

For more information about our mini cranes, or aftersales service and support, or anything else, please call us on 01767 677155. Alternatively, you can contact us via info@jtcranes.co.uk.