Crosby’s Peter Hird: ‘It’s in my blood to work with cranes and lifting equipment’
By Hannah Sundermeyer01 August 2022
There is truly something to be said about the integrity of the crane and lifting industry. Early on in my career, I remember someone told me that most of the people I was about to cross paths with would be eager to help me learn and answer any questions I might have. I am happy to report this rings true. Peter Hird is a wealth of industry knowledge, and certainly no exception to this theory. He is quick to offer a bright smile and a handshake, no matter the occasion. I am fortunate to have spent a bit of time with him throughout the last five years I’ve been at American Cranes & Transport, and he is always a familiar and welcome face.
In April of last year, Hird made headlines when The Crosby Group acquired BlokCorp. Following the purchase of the camera and alert systems company, Crosby then formed its Technology Solutions business unit. The division was created to include BlokCam and Crosby Straightpoint.
The company then created their Technology Solutions business unit to broaden The Crosby Group’s portfolio of products and solutions.
But Hird is no stranger to the crane and lifting business. He has been involved for 38 years and counting, starting out at the family business Peter Hird & Sons in 1983 and progressing into specialist lifting and rigging project management. In 2004, he became managing director of Peter Hird & Sons, and subsequently also Valla Cranes UK, Valla Cranes USA and Compact Lifting Group. Compact Lifting Group was at the forefront in the development of the mini crane market worldwide and rapidly developed into a significant business.
In 2015, he and Ben Windass launched Blokcam after seeing a gap in the market for a high-quality camera system that would fit to the hook block of many types of cranes. Blokcam is a multi-million-dollar business and has a distribution network in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Australia.
Following the 2021 sale of BlokCam to The Crosby Group, Hird now serves as business development director.
I think you’ll be eager to learn more about the benefits of this acquisition, and the role BlokCam plays in the Crosby realm. Hird has his finger on the pulse of rising crane camera technology, and an ardor for all things safety.
What is the history of BlokCam?
Blokcam was founded in 2015 with the initial development of three camera systems for cranes. We started selling our products to the UK tower crane market and then evolved to supply cameras to all types of cranes. In 2020 we were approached by The Crosby Group who completed the acquisition in April 2021.
What was your role in the founding of BlokCam?
I personally funded the cash to start the business, and we never borrowed a single dollar from start to exit. My major role was business development and very much on sales and marketing.
How did the acquisition evolve and what does it mean for BlokCorp and its products?
Crosby had bought Straightpoint back in 2019, and when the Crosby board was looking to increase their presence in the lifting technology sector, BlokCam came up on their radar. Becoming part of The Crosby Group gives us a far greater global reach and adds huge financial strength that allows us to develop and expand our global footprint.
What has been the reception of your customers to BlokCam as a Crosby entity?
Crosby is a household name in the lifting industry, so it was very well received and reassured customers that BlokCam would be around for many years to come.
Do you see more contractors requiring these sorts of technologies on jobsites?
Globally we have different levels of acceptance, but certainly in the more developed markets we are seeing the use of crane cameras becoming a must have operator aid.
Do you see better acceptance in the United States than in the past?
The U.S. is engaging more and more, year on year, the growth of our sales in very encouraging.
What has been the cause for debate in the U.S. regarding camera systems on tower cranes?
The debate has been safety and saving lives versus lawsuits. Some of the crane industry risk management professionals have actively denounced the use of cameras on the grounds that the crane owners and operators will have more liable cases brought against them if they use crane cameras. Crane cameras have been used in the U.S. now for a good 10 to 15 years, and we are still yet to see a single case brought against any crane owner or crane operator for using crane cameras as an aid. I’m happy to allow you to make your own judgment on these claims.
BlokCam has another product, BlokAlert, an audio/visual warning system for crane operations. How does it work?
Blokalert is a visual and audible warning system that attaches to the hook block of the crane. The rigging teams or crane operators can activate the functions via radio remote controllers. This is standalone product as not everyone wants a crane camera but needs a warning system when lifting operations are in progress.
Do you envision helping Crosby develop additional products in the tower crane realm?
Yes, I already am, and we have great team in the Technology Solutions division that is working tirelessly to develop new and improved products that will be an initiative within the crane and lifting industry.
What is it about this industry that keeps you engaged?
I’m a thoroughbred, so it’s in my blood to work with cranes and lifting equipment. I believe we can make the industry safer, and I’m totally committed to play a part in this.
What is your business philosophy?
Safety, reliability and innovation.
What do you do in your leisure time?
I ride trials motorcycle sport and enjoy driving sports cars.