We received the sad news earlier this week that Ib Steffensen, until recently the truck mounted lift director of Danish based crane and aerial lift rental company BMS, has died aged 55.
He passed away on Tuesday November 30th after a long and extended battle with several forms of terminal cancer, which eventually obliged him to retire earlier this year. He joined BMS in 2009 as a key account manager for its self-propelled aerial lift division, having worked in the aerial lift rental business for many years, initially with Nordjysk Lift and then as a sales director with VMC Pitzner. He began his working life selling videos, a tough market in which there was plenty of competition. It taught him not to take no for an answer, and gave him a deep understanding of quickly learning what a customer wanted.
In 2011 when BMS sold its non-operated aerial lift fleet to Riwal, Steffensen took over the management of the company’s truck mounted business, which at the time had a small fleet of around eight or nine units, serving the Danish market. His strategy was to build the business in a more stable and substantial operation, serving more project based industries such as the wind energy, high voltage power line and telecoms industries, both in Denmark and overseas.
As part of this strategy the fleet transitioned towards larger and more specialised truck mounted lifts. By the time he was obliged to step down the division had a fleet of around 40 large units with working height from 45 to 103 metres, which were kept busy all over Europe. He also launched a fleet of underbridge inspection platforms and units for drilling and installing safety nets on cliff faces sides, dubbing them 'mountain protection platforms'.
He had been struggling with cancer for many years but survived three to four years longer than any of his doctors predicted, due, say his friends to his indomitable will and spirit. He had a reputation for decency, fair play and good working practice, as well as being a direct and thorough negotiator. He was always happy to listen and help mentor those who worked with him. He loved cars, going to watch the local ice hockey team and getting a sale - work was a pleasure, not a chore.
He leaves behind his wife Pia, two sons from a previous first marriage and Pia's two sons.
In the words of just a very few of the many people who knew him:
“His network within the business is very unusual - he knew everyone, and everyone knew him.”
“Now the day has finally come that I have been thinking about for long time. In the nine years that I worked for Palfinger, Ib was first a customer, soon a partner, and finally a friend and mentor. He was a fighter, stubborn and rough, but also humorous, sensitive and a caring father. I will miss him as a person, as a business partner and his visionary, respectful attitude. Always win, never lose. Until the end.” Henning Deichmann
“A man with a real presence, I was fortunate and grateful to have worked with Ib, he taught me a lot in the two years I was with BMS.” Eddie George.
“He was truly one of a kind - an original, I will miss our chats and laughs so deeply. The heaven is now one star richer and will be far more fun too, I am sure.”
"I think BMS was his 'hobby' and he never worked a day while he was there!!"
Tom Wilson of BMS UK sums up the feelings of many of Ib Steffensen’s friends and colleagues when he writes: “Yesterday was a sad day for me. I lost the greatest person I’ve ever met. He was the best listener, advisor, mentor, manager and friend and I will be eternally grateful for having known and worked with him. Ib Steffensen was a genius, a gentleman, a comedian and a teacher, an amazing father and husband and treated everyone with the upmost respect. He was the instigator of a laugh and a smile in the office, he cared about everyone, and he always had a steady stream of people at his door who he was helping or advising even when he was terminally ill. I wish I had one more chance to thank him for everything he has done for me and my family. Rest in peace Ib.”
In 2015 when Ib Steffensen launched the next major stage of his strategy for the truck mounted lift business, the company commissioned the video, below, in which he makes several cameo appearances. He was also interviewed by Cranes & Access in 2017.