COH Inc.

To 40 more

In 2009, Montreal-based COH Inc. celebrated its 40th year in business. What better time to reflect on the successes of the custom crane design and manufacturing company, and hear what is in store for the next 40 years?

To put it simply, COH “designs, manufactures and restores cranes for the North American market,” explains EVP Sébastien Darveau. “Our focus, however, is customization of cranes,” he continues.  The past four decades have seen COH evolve into experts in designing practical and economical solutions to the gamut of material handling challenges presented to the company through the years. This invaluable experience is the company’s greatest asset as it forges into new industries more complex projects.

COH products are all certified ISO 9001 2008, and include production overhead cranes, electro-mechanical hoisting equipment, automatic handling equipment, gantries, telescopic aircraft maintenance platforms, and any other specialized handling equipment that involves hoisting or horizontal movement of a load (by means of hooks or sophisticated grabbing mechanisms).

Customer service is key

COH’s operations are divided into the equipment and service divisions. “The service division does the maintenance and modernization of overhead cranes. After-sales service is a main priority. The way to get stronger tomorrow and match our client’s needs is to continually develop customer service,” says Darveau, articulating the assiduous focus COH has for a long-term relationship with the client.

“We start with specifications,” says Darveau, about the key to the COH service. “Some clients come with quite clear ideas about their needs and they put that in their specifications. For other clients, they come with problems. In that case, we design and implement a tailored solution to solve their problems.”
This is the same holistic approach on which COH was founded and which carries the company through to this day. COH has always prioritised building an excellent product, but also the maintenance and the lifelong use of the cranes. Because all critical components of the cranes are engineered and designed by the COH team, the products enjoy a reputation that is second to none an industry where reliability is absolutely crucial.


The COH facilities are located in Montreal, Quebec, and act as the site for all the structural, mechanical, electrical and programming operations. The plan to house all operations in the 60,000-square-foot facility furthers the company’s stringent reliability and quality control process, complete with a structural welding bay, machine shop, electrical shop and final assembly bays. According to Eric Herbault, also EVP at COH, “All operations are performed in house to final assembly and complete functional testing.”

There is a NC-controlled horizontal boring mill with automatic tool-changing ensures precise machining of gear housing. Other critical components—such as an entire range of A.G.M.A. rated gear reducers, and a hoist drum shell for a 325-tonne capacity—just scratch the surface of the company’s equipment.

COH’s expertise ranges from aircraft maintenance to transfer cars, with the largest majority of projects being in hydro-electricity. “COH has projects with Hydro-Quebec, Manitoba Hydro, BC Hydro and Ontario Power Generation,” says Herbault.  A new initiative for the company is work with the U.S market and nuclear energy. “It’s a new development for us, but not new for the group we are working for, because we are part of the French Réel Group—a group which specialises in the nuclear industry.”  Réel does significant work in the development, building and installation of complex handling systems for the energy sector; it is a perfect match for COH going into the future.

Perpetual innovation

This Canadian company has stayed true to the core strategies on which it was founded and has experienced much success in doing so. Having already become a North American leader in customised cranes and modernisation, COH is going to continue to stick with what works. “We believe in the customisation process,” says Herbault.  The way for COH to grow, Darveau believes, is to continue to provide the best customised solutions for COH clients. “Although we may have competitors who are bigger than us, they are not competition when it comes to customised equipment. We prefer to stay in that kind of equipment and find our niche market,” Darveau continues.  Congratulations, COH, on 40 years of contribution to the Canadian business landscape.