Third Manitowoc MLC 300 for Wilkerson

Kansas City based Wilkerson Crane Rental has taken delivery of its third 350 tonne Manitowoc MLC300, this one equipped with a VPC-Max variable counterweight system and Wide Boom Plus kit.

Using VPC-Max and the Wide Boom inserts the crane can be rigged with up to 131 metres of main boom, topped off with a seven metre extended boom point, bringing the practical lift height to 131 metres. Alternatively a fixed offset jib of up to 42 metres can also be added, or a 96 metre luffing jib which takes the maximum system length with VPC-Max, to 168 metres.

The basic 300 tonne MLC300 was launched in 2015 with the VPC-Max system, while the Wide Boom Plus kit was introduced in 2022, specifically for installing wind turbines. Wilkerson’s new machine was supplied by Manitowoc dealer Kirby Smith, and after a couple of short bridge projects, it has been working exclusively on wind farms.

Jeff Holt director of operations said: “Four years ago, we bought our first MLC300 for wind farm work. Apart from coming back for a three month job, it’s been conducting maintenance on one wind turbine after another. Two years ago, we purchased our second unit which is currently on a long term job replacing a bridge over Table Rock Lake, Missouri.”
The new ML350 rigged with VPC-Max, full boom and extended boom point

“When purchasing our third MLC300, we included the VPC-Max and Wide Boom Plus. These two new attachments can be used on any of our three MLC300s. They make it possible to install wind towers with hub heights of up to 100 metres. Since the purchase of these attachments, we’ve already used them to perform complete rotor drops on several 100 metre wind turbines The crane is now off to work on a large tyre plant in Topeka, Kansas with main boom and fixed jib.”

An interesting history

Based in Bonner Springs on the western edge of Kansas City, the original Wilkerson was founded in the early 1960s or earlier as a construction company specialising in bridge building. In 1969 the company placed its crane fleet into a new rental division, in subsequent years the company went through several large owners before closing its crane operation in 2013 and putting its assets up for sale.

In 2013 Wilkerson Crane Rental’s owner and chief executive Diana Holt was remodelling the Wilkerson group offices - she worked as a property designer and freelance carpenter at the time - and got to hear about the closure plans. Her husband Jeff had worked for the Wilkerson crane division since 1996 as a crane operator and then assembly director. His father Fred Holt, was the general manager. Wilkerson had never registered or traded as Wilkerson Crane - it was simply known as Wilkersons. Spotting an opportunity to keep the business alive, Diana was able to register a new business as Wilkerson Crane Rental.
Diana Holt

She then spoke with a consultant, created a substantial business plan and managed to raise the finance necessary to buy a few of the cranes and assets. Diana and Jeff set up shop in the basement of their home and managed to persuade Fred to join them. The rest, as they say, is history. As the economy in and around Kansas City boomed, the Holts rebuilt the business and a steady pace, and soon exceeded the original Wilkersons.

Today the Wilkerson Crane Rental fleet includes lattice boom crawlers up the 650 tonne Manitowoc MLC650 VPC-Max, All Terrains up to 650 tonnes, Rough Terrains to a three axle 130 tonner and telescopic crawler cranes to 220 tonnes. It also has a few tower cranes - both flat tops and self-erectors - along with boom trucks, hoists and telehandlers.