Texas crane maker shipping big loads from Clinton plant

  • Workers at the Ace World Companies plant in Clinton pre- pare for loading of a new 125,000-pound section of a $2 million overhead crane on a tractor-trailer rig for shipment to Kentucky last week. - G. Chambers Williams III

  • A section of a crane sits on trucks ready to be towed from the Ace World Companies plant on J.D. Yarnell Industrial Parkway in Clinton on Friday (March 19). The 133-foot crane beam requires special permits and routing for transport. - G. Chambers Williams III

A Texas-based company that makes custom-designed overhead steel cranes has been rolling out some massive truckloads of its products from its new Clinton plant over the past couple of weeks.

Special tractor-trailer rigs have been leaving the Ace World Companies facility on J.D. Yarnell Industrial Parkway carrying 133-foot and 115-foot-long sections of new cranes heading for a customer in Kentucky, with each load weighing up to 125,000 pounds, said Kevin Beavers, executive vice president.

“We’re sending them to Nucor Steel in Kentucky,” Beavers said. “Over the past week and a half, we’ve sent out three 133-footers, and three 108-footers, with the longer ones weighing 125,000 pounds and the shorter ones 115,000 pounds.”

A total of six cranes – worth $11 million -- will be going to the customer, with a total of about 50 truckloads of the long, heavy steel sections in all, Beavers said.

And that’s pretty much just the start for the new plant, which began ramping up production last summer, he said.

“On average, it takes five months to build each crane, but we did all six at once,” Beavers said. “We buy our steel from Nucor, and on this order, the finished cranes are actually going to Nucor.”

The company is all-American, using American steel and other U.S.-made materials in all its products, Beavers said.

“We built all of our own equipment, too,” he said.

The steel for the cranes “comes in as plate steel, then we build box girders,” Beavers said. “It takes several plates to make the boxes. These are electric overhead cranes – permanent cranes that stay in the building.”

Ace has 20 employees at the Clinton Plant now, but is still building up its manufacturing capacity, and will be adding more workers, he said.

“We have some cranes that weigh a million pounds apiece,” Beavers said. “They went to a rocket company in Florida., We did one for SpaceX that lifts rockets up 250 feet in the air.”

Ace World Companies, based in Fort Worth, Texas, secured a building permit from the city of Clinton in fall 2019 to build the $5.6 million, 55,000-square-foot addition to an industrial building at 250 J.D. Yarnell Industrial Parkway for its new facility.

The building was the former home of Rexnord Corp.’s roller-bearing manufacturing operation, which the Wisconsin-based company moved to Mexico in early 2016.

Ace is moving its former Knoxville operations at 200 W. Quincy Ave. to the new Clinton site, and will be completely moved out of the Knoxville site “in about two or three weeks,” Beavers said.

The new plant has 180,000 square feet of manufacturing space, compared with just 49,000 square feet in the Knoxville location, he said.

The company specializes in overhead cranes, also known as bridge cranes, but also provides other products, including wire rope hoists, end trucks and transfer cars, according to its website. It has been in business since 1987.

According to its website, Ace World Companies serves industries such as concrete, pulp and paper mills, oil and gas, shipyards, lumber, steel mills, aerospace, marine, automotive, manufacturing, power generation and mining.