History & Founders

Dale R. Foley, C.E.O.

Richard A. Foley, President

1975 - 1976 - 1977 - 1978-81 - 1981-86 - 1987 - 1988 - 1989 - 1993 - Mid 90s - Late 90s -

Since its inception in mid-1975 as a Corporation chartered in Virginia, Foley Material Handling Co., Inc., has pursued its goal of being the premier Crane and Monorail Systems designers and engineers on the East Coast. Today, with revenues in excess of $35 million, the Company continues to focus on leading the industry in crane and control design, always with the objective of providing its Customers with products designed to fulfill the specific defined need and with the highest level quality available.

The Company's origins stem from its appointment in 1975 as the Regional Cleveland Tramrail Patented Track dealer, and the blending of the expertise of the world's leading supplier of Patented Track Systems and the engineering expertise of Dale Foley. During the first year, revenues were derived primarily from the supply of repair parts and many small equipment orders. The first year also saw the beginnings of the Company's winning credibility with several local and regional Patented Track users although orders for major projects were slow in developing.

In 1976, Foley Material Handling won its first major contract; a $100K Interlocking Crane System for Nabisco in Cape May, New Jersey. This contract was earned from Davis Construction Company, and involved the design and fabrication of controls, miscellaneous support steel, and installation of the Patented Track System. Working from a 1000 square foot facility in the Hanover Industrial Air Park, the Company hired a millwright and two laborers, and purchased some basic equipment to establish a fabrication facility.

1977 saw a major growth in revenues to nearly $1 million. Included in this was a major contract ($400K) from Lynch burg Foundry for their new Medium Castings Foundry in Radford, Virginia This Patented Track System included the design and fabrication of support steel and installation of the steel and the Patented Track equipment.

In 1978, Dresser Industries (now Lift-Tech International) approached Foley Material Handling with a proposal to establish the Company as its regional fabricator of single and double girder cranes utilizing component kits supplied by Dresser. Dresser supplied Shaw-Box brand mechanical components, and Foley fabricated girders and did all the wiring and assembly of the cranes. This relationship provided the impetus to establishing the Company as a manufacturer of Top Running Cranes.

The following several years saw Foley steadily increase its presence in the marketplace and its volume growth. As a result of this growth in the manufacture and installation of cranes, the Company relocated to a larger (6800 square foot) facility. In 1978, the Company added an experienced Sales Engineer and established a Service Department to better support its Customers' full crane repair and maintenance needs.

In addition to the Cleveland Tramrail and Shaw-Box product lines, Foley Material Handling won the distribution right for many of the major hoisting equipment manufacturers including Shepard Niles, P&H, Yale, R&M, Detroit Hoist, and Coffing.

In the three year period ending in 1981 the Company established itself as a full line manufacturer of box girder cranes, culminating in the registration of its brand name "Virginia Crane" in 1981.

The box girder expertise was developed following a short relationship with another box girder crane manufacturer in which Foley Material Handling was to sell cranes manufactured by others. This sales agreement was less than successful partially because of economics, but also because Dale Foley wanted to be able to provide a finished product of higher specification content and of a superior construction quality. With the assistance of Dresser Industries, the Company undertook a program to develop its own computerized design of box girder cranes to the then current standards of CMAA, and to the specific requirements of the industries in which the Company was finding the most interest (Paper, Railroads, Shipbuilding, Power Plants, Aluminum, Aircraft Maintenance).

The next three years saw the Company expand its operations by tripling its volume and adding 50% more floor space and bringing its total employment to 26 persons (visit Our Facility.)

Box girder cranes became the largest product type at the Company, and Foley Material Handling was routinely building cranes of 80' span or more. In 1987, the Company built a 25,000 square foot facility that incorporated a "production line" for the manufacture of box girders. In that year, the Company received a contract to build 4 large box girder cranes for the New Jersey Transit Authority (50/7.5 ton - 90 foot span) which were the first units to utilize the new production line. This was followed by an order for a 70 ton - 90 foot span crane for General Electric. By this point, the Company had established a reputation for building high quality equipment, tailored to the specific application, along with a full Service Department and a first-class Installation Department.

1988 was an explosive growth in the business with orders that included several 120 foot span cranes for the US Department of Energy and two 131 foot span double leg gantry cranes for Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. The year also saw an expansion of the fabricating facility to 36,000 square feet.

By 1989, the Company revenues exceeded $8 million, and employment reached 60 people.

By 1993, sales had grown to $12 million including the absorption of a competitors service business in 1992, and the establishment of a full Inspection Department. The Inspection group includes full US Department of Labor Certification to 29 CFR Part 1919. The Company also undertook a complete rebuild of a 310 ton- 450 foot span double leg gantry crane for Newport News Shipbuilding.

Growth accelerated in the mid 90’s with expansion of our engineering resources and the development of our “Feature SeriesHoist product line. Our reputation as a builder of high quality, technically sophisticated overhead and gantry cranes was spreading. The Company was awarded several contracts from the U.S. Air Force and NASA for cranes used in the assembly and launch preparation processes of unmanned space vehicles. Additionally, the Company obtained orders for cranes designed to U. S. Navy Nuclear Specifications for critical material handling, and for large magnet equipped shipyard plate handling cranes. The Company also continued its growth through expansion of its customer base by placing turbine cranes in several fossil fueled generating facilities and by supplying a number of multi-hoist equipped cranes in the paper industry.

In the late 90’s, the Company moved into the re-emerging primary steel industry by providing multi-crane projects in new steel mills for Bethlehem Steel and IPSCO following in 2000 and later with projects for ACIPCO, Chaparral Steel, Weirton Steel, North American Stainless, California Steel, and others. Most of these projects were for process and shipping cranes and a number of cranes were provided for hot metal service.

Since 2005 the focus of the Company continues to move to the heavier duty cycle crane requirements of the steel and shipyard industry. Traditional constant potential DC cranes have become a niche business, and CMAA “Class F” cranes are now common. The Company product lines also include custom stacker cranes and heavy duty transfer cars.

2005 also included the complete re-build of a 1200 Ton Goliath Crane and numerous new cranes for Northrop Grumman Ship Systems fabrication shops near the Gulf of Mexico following Hurricane Katrina.

“Virginia Crane®” is now nationally recognized  as the primary supplier in its geographic area for highly engineered specialized CMAA-Class 'D' and 'E' Cranes tailored to Customer-Specific requirements. Primary design and engineering criteria are based upon reliability, life expectancy, and conformance to Customer and Industry specifications and requirements. The Company's product lines have been expanded to include Stacker Cranes and heavy Transfer Cars. Double girder crane product offerings now include CMAA Class 'F', and capacities in excess of 100 tons.

The Company now has a full range of services and experiences to draw upon, including such major "turn key" projects such as the large aircraft maintenance facility completed for U.S. Air Group in Charlotte, North Carolina, a major multi-crane and installation project for NASA at Kennedy Space Center, Honda, multiple Steel Warehouse projects, large capacity, long span turbine room cranes for power plants, nuclear-spec cranes, and other highly engineered specialized projects.

Today, with revenues exceeding 35M, employing 140 people, and operating from a 70,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility, Foley Material Handling, with its “Virginia Crane®” and “CRANEtrol®” product lines, looks forward to continued growth and challenges.

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