We have received the sad news that UK tower crane entrepreneur Ray Balach has died. He would have been 84 this month.
Ray Balach or Milan to give him his real name, arrived in the UK in the 1950s from the former Yugoslavia, he was only 15 or 16, but soon found employment in the tower crane industry joining Climbing Cranes Ltd, the UK agents for Linden Alimak tower cranes (now Comansa). The name Ray was a nickname he was given after the film star Ray Milland and it stuck.
When Linden Alimak decided to set up its own distribution business in the UK, Ray played a role and left Climbing Cranes for the newly established company. In his years with the business he was involved with the Alimak hoists as well as the Linden tower cranes, all of which were manufactured in Sweden.
In 1980 he teamed up with Tommy Newell to start Vertical Transportation Limited in partnership with three Swedish crane company executives, Ingmar Pada, Nils Soderlof and Christer Klemets. They began importing a range of cranes from Sweden, including Linden Alimak, Tornborgs and Krøll, all of which were added to their rental fleet which ran very successfully for many years. The company did particularly well with the articulated jib tower cranes manufactured by Tornborg as well as the unusual Krøll pipe cranes.
The Swedish directors left the business in 2000, while Ray and Tommy carried on until 2016 when they sold the business to City Lifting and finally retired. See: City Lifting acquires Vertical Transportation. Long after he retired Ray would drop into the City Lifting yard from time to time for a coffee and to see how things were going. Everyone was always pleased to see him.
Ray met and married his wife Rose in 1961 and together they had four children, Stevo, Julian, Jan & Elaine.
One of his friends and ex work colleagues said: “Ray was a larger than life character with strong opinions. He was also very strong physically and was still preparing and loading cranes in the yard well into his seventies. He had a sharp wit and would help people out if he could. His love of family was his greatest joy.”