Original crane of Matherson Crane Hire
Original crane of Matherson Crane Hire

‘Big gamble’: Matherson lifts town to new heights

When Neil Matherson went to his boss with the idea of running his own crane business, he was greeted with support, and in 1980, Matherson Crane Hire was born.

Mr Matherson said the idea originated in the late 70s.

"There was that much work coming into Gladstone … I always knew it was going to expand," Mr Matherson said.

He told his wife, Beth, he was thinking about starting his own business.

"I went and said the same thing to my boss Ivan Ruzic and he said 'I'll make sure you don't run out of work' because that's the sort of boss he was," Mr Matherson said.

The company Mr Matherson was working for was so supportive, they even showed Beth how to do the books over three nights of dinner.

Neil Matherson says wife Beth had the hardest job at Matherson Crane Hire
Neil Matherson says wife Beth had the hardest job at Matherson Crane Hire

The Mathersons bought their first crane for $50,000.

"We went into debt for three houses in that day to buy a little tractor crane," Mr Matherson said.

"We took a big gamble but there was so much work in Gladstone at the time."

The company still has the original cashbook from 1980 when the business operated out of the family's home.

Matherson Crane Hire's original cashbook
Matherson Crane Hire's original cashbook

Mr Matherson said as a 5-year-old, his daughter Tanya would answer the phone.

"I might be downstairs and Beth could have been somewhere else," he said.

"Tanya would ask all the questions before I got there."

If anything went wrong with the crane, Mr Matherson said it was all hands on deck.

"They'd all be down helping me so we could get the crane going for the next day," he said.

While fixing the cranes could take him until 1am, Mr Matherson said it was Beth who had the hardest job.

"I couldn't have done it without my wife," he said.



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