Dallas-based crane and hoist firm Lewis Equipment Co. filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code with the US Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Texas, for bankruptcy protection.

The Chapter 11 petition states that Lewis has assets and liabilities both exceeding $100 million and that its debts are primarily business debts. The Chapter 11 filing also states that Lewis estimates that funds will be available for distribution to unsecured creditors.

A list of 20 creditors holding the largest unsecured claims has also been released and includes Frost National Bank, with a claim to $18.5 million; FCC Equipment Financing, with a claim to $17.5 million; Jake’s Crane, Rigging and Transport International with a claim to $1.3 million; Sierra Equipment with a claim to $483,121 and Remote Dynamics with a claim to $31,837.

A Chapter 11 debtor usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time. Lewis specializes in tower, mobile and crawler cranes as well as rigging equipment, and is the exclusive North American dealer for SunCrane modular flat-top tower cranes and Zoomlion truck, crawler and all terrain cranes.

It acquired Verticon’s New Zealand tower crane and hoist assets for around $12 million at the end of 2007, and began importing Fushun Yongmao tower cranes to the US under the SunCrane brand name during 2008.