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The Big Interview: Liebherr's Christoph Kleiner

by Stian Overdahl on Jan 16, 2013

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Low fleet turn over in Europe means higher prices on the second hand cranes bought by smaller rental fleets says Kleiner.
Low fleet turn over in Europe means higher prices on the second hand cranes bought by smaller rental fleets says Kleiner.

Liebherr is a world leader in sales of all-terrain mobile cranes, accounting for 44% of all global sales in the segment. PMV Middle East editor Stian Overdahl speaks with Christoph Kleiner, managing director of Liebherr-Werk Ehingen GmbH, and former head of Saudi Liebherr.

At its sprawling production headquarters in Ehingen, southern Germany, Liebherr Mobile Crane Division’s has production facilities covering 220,000m², with 2800 highly qualified staff.

There, all-terrain cranes, ranging from the 35 tonne LTM 1030-2.1, up to the 1200 tonne LTM 11200-9.1, account for 75% of the total sales turn over for Liebherr-Werk Ehingen GmbH, and according to the company, account for 44% of the all-terrain cranes sold globally.

Also designed and built at Ehingen are Liebherr’s lattice boom crawler cranes from 350 tonnes up to the massive 3000 tonne LR 13000, as well as lattice boom mobile cranes, telescopic crawler cranes, and telescopic truck-mounted cranes.

Christoph Kleiner is the managing director of Liebherr-Werk Ehingen GmbH, but he may be more familiar to those in the Middle East from his role as head of Saudi Liebherr, which he held from 2004-2007, before he was appointed to the top job at Ehingen.

Of his years living in Saudi Arabia, 2004-2007, Kleiner says he enjoyed experiencing the transition into a growth economy.

“I enjoyed it. I was coming at the right time, the business was starting to pick up. [Saudi Arabia] became politically much more stable, during that time the new king was announced. Since then it picked up continually.”

Liebherr has seen its mobile crane sales in the Middle East grow, with a long history in the region. Major customers include Al Faris, McDermott, ACT, and Saudi Bin Laden Group (SBG).

“When it comes to all-terrain cranes, we are quite successful within Middle East overall, but especially [where] we have two Liebherr-owned set-ups,” says Kleiner.

With its two Liebherr-owned ventures in the Middle East - Saudi Liebherr, a joint venture between the Juffali Group and the Liebherr Group, established in the Kingdom in 1981, and Liebherr Middle East FZE, established in Dubai in 2005 inside the Jebel Ali Free Zone – Liebherr is able to deliver the “total package”, and ensure value for its customers, says Kleiner.

“Due to the critical projects, in refineries, all kinds of infrastructural projects, our product is very much appreciated not because of the product itself, but because of the package.”

Most important for customers, he says, is service, up-time of the machine, spare parts availability, and ultimately the end value of the machine when it is sold.
“The worst thing that can happen is if you are in a critical job at a refinery and the crane breaks down and nobody is there to support you.

“This package is what has made us very successful, and we have a high market share in all of the Middle East, servicing all of the big players,” says Kleiner.

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