With the arrival of the gas industry, a local company is seeing exponential growth in jobs and equipment.
Allison Crane & Rigging, 2817 Lycoming Creek Road, expanded from 100 employees to 200 in a year because of the increased need of workers for the gas industry, Larry Allison Jr., part-owner, said. Three years ago, the company had 75 employees.
Allison said most of the workers are used for water trucks and cranes. Two people are needed on every crane and Allison said some places have people on duty in cranes 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The reason for the extra person on the crane is for one to signal to the rigger where he should go.
Crane operator Jeff Bierley becomes more familiar with the cab of the company’s new 160-ton crane
during training at Allison Crane and Rigging on Lycoming Creek Road Thursday. The crane is the newest of a fleet of 27 with two more expected by year’s end.
"They're watching for any issues," he said. "They are the eyes and the ears of the operator. We do it for safety. Safety is our number one goal so that everyone goes home with what they came with."
Along with the growth of employees comes an increase in the equipment the employees use. Allison said that by the end of the year, they will have purchased 12 new cranes, which will bring them up to 27 cranes. They also purchased 20 new water trucks.
"We're growing and we'll continue to grow," Allison said.
Many of the employees that were there before the gas industry came into the area, worked at Allison Crane & Rigging between 10 to 35 or more years. Allison said some of them worked with his family even longer, from when his grandfather started Lycoming Construction.
"We provide cranes to the natural gas industry," he said.
Allison Crane & Rigging is also expanding its area into a new facility down on the corner of Lycoming Creek Road and Hayes Lane. Allison said a gas-related company will lease the property, which will be ready by the end of the year.
He said the gas industry will be in the area for at least 50 to 60 years, and that could be a guess on the shorter side. When T. Boone Pickens came to visit in September, Allison said the tycoon claimed it will be the area for 100 years.
He said the area is very lucky to have the Marcellus Shale bringing in the natural gas industry.
"If this goes away, Williamsport is in trouble, big trouble," Allison said. "We're very fortunate for it to be here."
Despite the new presence of the gas industry, what the company does has not changed in its 35 years of history. Allison said they still have water hauls, cranes and moving machinery.
"The crane works the same, working on a bridge and on a frack," Allison said. "The water hauling is new, but it's still transportation."
Whatever happens in the future with the gas industry, Allison is optimistic about it.
"The future is bright," he said. "There's no question about that. The commitment we see is strong. The gas industry is spending billions of dollars. We're training operators on new cranes."