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Company History

What does a crane operator do while waiting for a rigger to connect a load, or while holding the load and waiting for another skilled trade to direct the operator to boom out, boom in, swing one way or another, boom down, cable down or release the load? At best there is some "down" time while sitting there. John Swisher spent many years in that seat, operating all sizes of cranes all over the West.

As he participated in steel joist erection for many different buildings, and many different projects, he watched open web joists being erected singly, or as a Christmas tree load, and in bundles. He had a ringside seat for these shows right there on the crane. The ground operation was labor intensive and was truly hazardous. As time went by, he came up with an idea for a lifting device that would eliminate some labor time: a scissor lift and operator and increase efficiency of joist placement while contributing to overall safety for the men on the joist crew.

John, Owner

From Seat Time To New Tool

Having spent a number of years as a mechanic working on the heavy lifting machines he now operated, John was well versed in welding, fabrication and innovative design. As a hobby, he had spent some time in designing and re-building riding lawn mowers to be capable of speeds exceeding 60 mph, and racing the resulting hot rod machines. To do that, you have to be innovative and have a good concept of mechanical design. These skills and a strong desire to develop a far safer more efficient means of joist placement led to the development of a tool to perform that job.

In his spare time, John designed and built a prototype tool that would allow a rigger to place the tool at the center point of an open web joist, lock it in, trail a light rope to one connecting point of the joist, then direct the crane operator to lift and swing the joist precisely to the connectors waiting at the beams to place the joist. One connector grabs the release rope placed by the rigger, and after the team has placed at least one weld at each end of the joist, he signals the operator to slack the cable, and pulls the rope to release the joist. A swivel action on the tool re-aligns two spade shaped posts on the tool, and the connector can now signal the operator to lift away and go for the next joist in the lay-down area. The tool worked! John's design seemed a total success, but there were tons of steps to go through to bring this device to market.

Cheri, John's wife, took over some of the opinion securing, legal steps and miscellaneous errands needed to move forward with this product. Meanwhile, John kept operating and through actual work experience refined the tool more. Cheri approached Arizona State OSHA for an opinion relative to OSHA compliance, and an OSHA Consultant at that time was able to review the tool in its infancy. The potential of the tool was easy to use.

It eliminated the scissor lift, ladder or bucket needed for a man to manually disconnect a joist from a sling and the crane hook while he was 15' to 30' above the floor. No one was exposed to a potential falling load or personal fall. No one had to work under a suspended load. No one was exposed to the outlaw concept of taping the crane hook safety latch open for easy load release. Crew size was reduced by one man. A piece of mechanical equipment was released for use elsewhere, or eliminated from the project lease list.

It was also found that this tool could eliminate some other potentially deadly practices such as "bundling" joists, and placing them unsecured on the beams to be spread out and placed manually by the connectors. Bundling caused injuries are costly, sometimes crippling or even fatal, and are eliminated by use of the tool John had designed.

OSHA explained from the outset that OSHA cannot approve, endorse or recommend a product for use by any trade. Load rating markings, and appropriate laboratory tests were suggested by OSHA, and were followed.

Large Crane

This tool has come of age now, is fully tested, patented (after a long and arduous process) and is fully field and laboratory tested for both operation and load rates. It has become the E-Z Joist Release.

Because this tool has worked so well in the field, and demand is growing by leaps and bounds, John has "retired" from the crane seat and is fully involved with production, quality control, shipping and sales of the tool. Cheri works by his side, makes appointments for sales calls, arranges reservations at trade shows, designs transportation and shipping solutions for trade show materials, and is totally supportive of John's endeavors. They travel the country in their motor home, visiting trade show sites, construction sites, company headquarters and they make "free-lance" visits to construction projects whenever they can. Frequent stops in their home state of Arizona, allow John to maintain first hand control of quality, design and production.

This is the All-American success story. From mechanic, to crane operator, to inventor, to successful business owner. We all dream of becoming the "boss" or the "big guy" for a company, and what better way to achieve that status than to design and build a truly beneficial tool for use by steel erectors everywhere. EZ Joist Release has become the tool name, and company lead product.

John and Cheri have not only marketed their tool in the United States, they have modified the design to accommodate the Canadian design steel open web trusses, and have product presence in Canada. John is currently working on a prototype lifting tool to assist iron workers in another area as well, and may be announcing it soon.

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