Earlier this week we received the sad news that Australian crane veteran Ron Downie has died. He passed away on Thursday November 18th.
Downie played a significant role at Linmac in the 1980s and 1990s when the company built tractor and articulated cranes, initially in partnership with BHP/Chamberlain.
He founded the crane manufacturer Ronco in 1994 and began building his own cranes, including the five tonne R5000 articulated crane which he built for Alcoa, followed by the six tonne R6000 which won an Australian design award. He also ran a crane service business in Maddington and worked with David Potter to get the first XCMG cranes AS 1418 certified, and was appointed as the service agent for Western Australia.
He sold the Ronco business to his colleague and general manager Rob Smith in 2011, today the company is still going strong and distributes a wide range of cranes and excavators. It was appointed as the Sany crane distributor in 2019 and also handles Tidd and HYVA cranes as well as Scheuerle trailers.
In the words of his friend and colleague, Greg Mitchell: “Ron was a good friend of mine since the early 1990s, when we worked together at Linmac. I was the senior designer and found Ron to be a genuinely honest, open source of knowledge on cranes and someone willing to share his experiences and work with others. Ron had an absolute love of cranes, and mechanical engineering in general, with a great work ethic and hands on approach to solving problems, and business in general.”
“Ron was always interested in knowing more about the crane industry and was not afraid to develop new solutions or products. At Linmac in the early 1990s he travelled to Indonesia, and India to help develop manufacturing for a mobile tractor crane. At his business Ronco in the early 2000's we developed the R5000 and R6000 mobile cranes, that latter winning an Australian design award for Ronco of which he was immensely proud."
“Ron sought out advice and knowledge from people in industry, and genuinely listened. When he started his business he had a business coach for example, and sought out professional accountants, and professional engineers for advice. He never pretended to be something he wasn't and had little time for those who did pretend. I have contracted to Ron over the years on many projects and had the greatest respect for him.”
Another friend added: “Ron was a very good man and a true blue Aussie crane man through and through.”