Deep South Featured in October 2018 Issue of BIC
Fifty years of continuous operation is a milestone few businesses achieve, but in 2018, Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Deep South Crane finds itself proudly celebrating five decades of success in the crane and rigging industry. It's a story with humble beginnings, fueled by hard work, a close-knit culture, proven product innovation, and a safety-first, customer-focused approach. Although the industry has experienced its share of challenges over the years, Deep South's promise to customers - to bring the best best tools and the right talent to every project, no matter how complex - has never wavered.
Created to meet customer demand
Deep South began in the spring of 1968, when young chemical engineer Camile Landry saw an opportunity to make a go of his own business. He launched the venture as an electrical contracting company, but when Landry's industrial customers began asking to rent his equipment, he saw an even more promising opportunity in the rental trade.
He started small in the early '70s by renting individual pieces of equipment, but when the area market need more rough terrain cranes, he quickly broadened his offerings to satisfy the demand.
"My dad's always been an incredibly hard worker," said Deep South President Mitch Landry. "I think what sets him apart is his passion for this industry and his drive to be the best of the best. He's always been an outside-the-box thinker, coming up with unique solutions to make projects run as smoothly as possible."
Eventually, Camile's drive to improve his company by serving his customers would introduce an imaginative new solution to the global crane world.
Raising the bar for an entire industry
By the 1980s, Camile saw a need in the industry for a new generation of cranes. He envisioned a smaller footprint and tighter tail swing that could be easily transported on current highways and capable of large capacities. With help from German-born Dieter Juergens, one of the crane industry's most inventive engineers, he set out to bring his vision to life.
The first 1,500-ton VersaCrane TC-24000 emerged in 1993, pairing sheer strength with a patented compact design, allowing it to perform in crowded and congested areas and to travel easily and economically. This single, highly configurable unit made efficient work of what seemed impossible - a game-changer for Deep South's customers.
The line features crawler and pedestal cranes from 750-ton to 2,500-ton capacities, and with its small footprint and industry-leading low ground-bearing pressure, VersaCranes execute high-capacity lifts without requiring plant closures or costly foundations to support them. The company has continued to invest in this technology, adding a 1,000-ton VersaCrane crawler crane in 2014 and currently developing future enhancements. A team of certified engineers and craftsmen build all VersaCrane models at Deep South's Baton Rouge manufacturing facility.
A full range of services and equipment
Though it earned a reputation as "the VersaCrane company", Deep South is far more than a specialty operation. Today, it's a comprehensive heavy lift and heavy haul contractor with an equipment portfolio that includes:
- Cranes up to 2,500 tons.
- Transporter, including SPMTs and over-the-road Godlhofers.
- Specialty rigging.
- Jacking and skidding.
- Steel matting.
- Bridge systems.
Customers trust the company to meet a wide variety of lift and transport needs. In doing so, Deep South has developed expertise in turnkey solutions - projects where equipment must be moved from a fabrication facility or other point of origin and placed into "final slab" position within a plant or other facility. These end-to-end challenges draw on the team's integrated knowledge across all project phases, from logistics and site planning to innovative project engineering and safe, timely execution.
One such project - among the largest team efforts in company history - was helping Marathon Garyville Major Expansion (GME) transform a 200-acre surgarcane field in Garyville, Louisiana, into a state-of-the-art refinery. In a year-long effort involving 125 team members and logging approximately 375,000 man-hours, Deep South transported and set more than 200 pieces of equipment. The company offloaded equipment from ships to pre-dressed barges, unloaded 47 barges, and designed and constructed a 100-foot long rail bridge capable of supporting up to 2,235,000 pounds. At the refinery site, VersaCranes and other high-capacity models lifted and set numerous heavy equipment units, including 500-ton crude columns, a 730-ton vacuum tower and six 800-ton hydrocracker unit reactors. The latter, together with the crane, weighed 5,430,000 pounds.
Deep South regularly serves companies across the construction, oil and gas, petrochemical, paper and other industries, and as those customers' needs have expanded, so has the company's footprint. Its nine offices span from Louisiana, Texas, Kentucky and Indiana to South America, and in 2013, Deep South completed its first international project through DS Americas, a Columbia-based division established for the South American market.
A principled team with deep family roots
If the Deep South company culture feels more like a family than that of most large businesses, it's with good reason. From early on, it has truly been a family operation, with Camile joined by his children, Brian, Regina and Mitch, and eventually grandchildren Jeremy, Marie, Margaret, Kate, and John. In five decades, they have welcomed hundreds of likeminded employees who believe in the value of teamwork and the importance of taking personal ownership in their customers' success.
The family environment has nurtured a great deal of trust, where the concept of team always comes before "me," and saying "it's not my job" isn't an option. It shows in how Deep South works together to serve, collaborate with and respond to every customer.
"Our team understands this business inside and out," said Mitch Landry. "We take great pride in our work and we like to get things done safely and efficiently the first time."
Safety is the top priority
At Deep South, workplace safety is the foundation of all success - a philosophy shared across every level of the company. "We want our employees and our customers' employees to go home safely every day," said Mitch Landry. "We appreciate their commitment to safety, and it is our driving principle for the future."
Years ago, the company carved out a "safety roadmap" to help define its overall approach and process. This master safety plans starts at the top with safety-focused management and is carried through the organization by means of written standards, excellent planning, thorough training and clear communication.
Ultimately, however, the best measure of safety is results, and Deep South's on-the-job performance has earned several recent industry awards. In 2018 alone, the company received a first-place honor in the Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance (GBRIA) Contractor Safety Excellence Awards; "Best of the Best" recognition in the Houston Business Roundtable's (HBR) Safety Excellence Awards; and an Industrial Safety Training Council (ISTC) achievement award for safety.
In 2017, Deep South launched "What's Your Why?" - an internal campaign that seeks to deepen team members' personal connection to safety, from the workplace across the greater community. The campaign inspires people to keep safety top-of-mind through their own stories by asking, "Why do you stay safe?"
Facing tomorrow with optimism
What's next for Deep South? Expect more of the same solid strategies that have helped it reach the half-century milestone: investing in - and sometimes creating - the newest tools and technologies; expanding strategically to better serve its customer base; and cultivating the next generation of heavy lift, heavy haul talent.
"We are committed to retaining our workforce while also training the next generation," explained Mitch Landry. "We need bright, committed young talent to keep moving our company forward." To that end, the company boasts an apprenticeship program and participates in events like the recent Lift & Move USA career day, hosted at Deep South headquarters and attended by more than 700 students interested in the crane, rigging and specialized transport industry.
Five decades after its founding, Deep South Crane & Rigging faces the next 50 years with the same spirit of teamwork, responsibility and respect that has made its success possible.
Deep South Celebrates 50 Years of Customer-focused Success
2018 is a milestone year for Deep South Crane. Fifty years after hardworking electrical engineer Camile Landry saw an opportunity to make a go of his own business, Deep South is now among the top 20 crane heavy lift, heavy haul companies in the world, operating nine offices throughout North and South America. As we celebrate a half-century in business, we couldn’t be prouder of what our people have accomplished and the future they’re paving for us.
Deep South Employees Honored for Life Saving Response
Deep South employees, Josh McDavid and Daniel Potter, were awarded Bring Your A-Game coins by Marathon Petroleum Company for their quick thinking to save a car crash victim.