Doing The Heavy Lifting

Larry Conklin assists many contractors on the island with his cranes. Coco Zickos photos

Larry Conklin assists many contractors on the island with his cranes. Coco Zickos photos

Larry Conklin
Owner of Island Crane and Rigging

Please tell us about your business. I am self-employed – a one-man show. My business is Island Crane and Rigging, and I own and operate two small cranes.

What is an example of what a small crane can do? I helped a lady move a Jacuzzi from her front yard to her backyard recently. I lifted it up and over the house and set in the backyard for her. I also can pick up a half-dozen cars easily, or I can pick up a small commercial truck easily. In addition, I do a lot of roof structures, whether that’s trusses or open beams. I do all kinds of different beams for construction, whether it be commercial or residential. I do work on antennas, boats, air conditioning … but the majority of my work is probably new construction. I also have a basket that I can secure to the tip of the boom, and I use that quite often with trees, lifting people up to work on them.

What does someone do if they need your assistance? People call me up and tell me what they need to move, and I ask about weights, distances, circumstances, electric lines and things of that sort. And then we come up with an idea about how to do it. Often, it’s contractors who contact me and have their own crew while I run the crane. If I’ve never worked with a person before, I’ve got to go to look at it. But if we’ve worked together before and speak the same language, I may be less inclined to look at the situation beforehand.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve had to move? A big, huge bronze or brass sculpture that looked like Jack and the Beanstalk. Also, the Lawai International Center’s Hall of Compassion and the Hindu monastery’s temple.

Conklin’s cranes lift pieces of the new Lawai International Center’s Hall of Compassion into place. Lynn Muramoto photo

Conklin’s cranes lift pieces of the new Lawai International Center’s Hall of Compassion into place. Lynn Muramoto photo

Why did you start this business? I moved to the Mainland for a couple of years while in my 20s (I was born on the Mainland, raised on Oahu) and worked for two guys who owned a furniture store. It was the first time I worked for someone who owned their own business and I thought it was cool, I really liked it. So I started formulating this model for a business. I wanted to be a one-man show, service-oriented, and have some kind of mechanical aspect to it. For 15 or 20 years I had that model in my head, thinking of things while working a variety of different jobs. I stumbled into cranes in the late 1980s while on Maui, and about three weeks into working with them I knew it was a fit.

Why did you move to Kaua’i? I worked for other people on Maui, and in the early ’90s, we all got laid off. I started looking into starting a business somewhere and then ‘Iniki hit. That was my window to step through before it closed. That’s what led to my moving. The business took off.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your business? When the crew and I are thinking along the same lines and we’re really bouncing off of each other, and we’re really open-minded to the other guy’s stuff and we’re really safety-oriented – when we get in there and think there is no way we can do something, but a couple of hours later, it’s done. There’s not much in my life that matches that. I like the rush of working together as a team to get the job done.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your business? The background stuff, the business stuff – all the things we should be learning in school, the paperwork, that’s the tough stuff. The trade that we do, the art we practice, that’s the fun. But it’s the computer skills, writing, accurate communication skills – all of that stuff is challenging.

What makes you get up every day and go to work? In order to do the things I want to do, I have to do the things I don’t want to do. And, if you do a job you love, you never work a day in your life. I have a job I really enjoy doing.

Do you have a business philosophy or motto? I try to treat people as I would like to be treated, which is challenging in my business because my biggest responsibility is safety. Sometimes what they want appears to be in conflict with safety, and I have to sort that out so that it isn’t in conflict.

If you weren’t doing this, what would be your dream job? I’d be independently wealthy.

To make an appointment with Island Crane and Rigging, call 639-1021.