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Cleaning Chicago Inside and Out with the Compact Crawler Boom Lift
Tom Trinen wears two hats—one as president and CEO of Service One, Inc. and another as the owner of a successful equipment rental business—Service One Access, Inc. Besides Tom, the common denominator to both businesses is the JLG Compact Crawler boom lift.
As president and CEO of Service One, Inc., Tom heads up one of the largest window cleaning companies in Chicago. But he also operates a successful equipment rental business—Service One Access, Inc.—that provides niche machines and scaffolding to a 10-state region surrounding Illinois.
The Compact Crawler boom lift is equipped to run using direct AC power, but Tom chose the greener lithium-ion power option with its quick start. This breakthrough technology, which is unique to JLG, allows him to move freely without being tethered to a power cord. “JLG has a pretty good handle on this technology, and the equipment runs faster as a result. It’s also a quiet piece of equipment, which is definitely an advantage when you use it indoors as often as we do,” commented Tom.
How He Got Started
Tom began cleaning windows in 1976 while attending college. In 1984, he turned the job that had helped pay his way through college into a full-time business venture, and Service One, Inc. was born. Today, in addition to cleaning windows, the company provides a host of façade maintenance services, including glass restoration, metal refinishing, pressure cleaning, caulking and waterproofing, along with a variety of special services.
“As the business grew, we built up an inventory of scaffolding, both suspended and frame, and specialized boom lifts we used in the façade maintenance work,” said Tom. “So, in 1989, I entered the equipment rental business. At the time, I was already familiar with JLG equipment and liked using it, adding JLG scissors lifts to our rental fleet almost from the beginning.”
But it wasn’t until four years ago that Tom was introduced to the Compact Crawler boom lift. Since then, it has become an important part of his inventory, regardless of the hat he wears.
“As a business owner who uses the Compact Crawler in the work we do, I am impressed by its performance features and the versatility it offers, both inside and out,” Tom commented. “It’s perfect for a number of outside applications, beginning with suburban office buildings, where the combination of grass and trees often makes it difficult to fit a large lift. The lightweight Compact Crawler boom (3,682 – 6,592 pounds, depending on the model) and the machine’s low ground pressure, allow us to navigate through landscaped areas and over rough, uneven, soft terrain, where larger pieces of equipment, sometimes weighing as much as 15,000 pounds, either would not fit or would cause significant damage.”
According to Tom, urban settings also favor the Compact Crawler boom lift. Chicago neighborhoods feature a number of narrow, four-foot walkways between buildings that lead to larger interior courtyards. “Until the Compact Crawler came along, no one offered an alternative to scaffolding for the work on the building facades that face these courtyards. When you have pitched roofs, scaffolding becomes very expensive and sometimes impossible to apply safely. With a width of either 31 or 39 inches, the Compact Crawler offers a great option, as it can easily move through the passage and provide access to four- and five-story buildings.”
Tom adds that buildings with long staircases, including churches, cathedrals and museums, do not challenge the machine. “Situations where you have a lot of stairs usually require the construction of a ramp system, and that can get very labor intensive and very expensive. But again, because the Compact Crawler boom is so lightweight, we are able to crane it to the top of the stairs very inexpensively and move it inside the building, if that’s where it’s needed – an approach that might take half an hour as compared to a day and a half to two days to build ramps for heavier equipment.” What’s more, the lift’s tracked wheel carriage does have the ability to climb shorter sets of steps, with the proper protection.
Once inside these and other buildings, the Compact Crawler helps with a variety of tasks. “One of the most common applications for the boom involves retail stores with up and down escalators running side by side,” explained Tom. “The footprint of the machine means it can usually fit in the narrow space between the escalators, where other outrigger-based lifts cannot, for simple maintenance tasks like replacing light bulbs, painting or working above the escalators.”
The list of inside tasks that benefit from the Compact Crawler boom lift also includes repairing leaks, performing electrical work, servicing skylights, cleaning windows and doing fire system maintenance. Three models provide working heights ranging from 45 feet to 75 feet, and as Tom has discovered, the machine is easy to operate.
“The functionality is pretty intuitive, with an interactive control panel that provides valuable information about the operation of the boom,” said Tom. “However, I think the best feature is the fact that it does not require gas to operate, which means we can use it indoors and not worry about fumes.”
In the four short years Tom has been using the Compact Crawler boom, the lift has quickly become an important addition to his equipment fleet, contributing to the success of both of the businesses he runs. “The Compact Crawler is instrumental in helping us accomplish a variety of tasks for our maintenance façade customers,” said Tom. “At the same time, it enhances our offering to our rental customers, providing them with the means to accomplish the work on their to-do list. Due to its popularity, the biggest challenge I face is making sure both sides of the business have a Crawler Boom when they need it.”