Crane Institute Certification of America Certification LLC (CIC), Crane & Rigging Hot Line magazine, and Altec Inc., jointly announce the finalists for the 2015 Crane Operator & Rigger Skills Championship, to be held Sept. 29, 2015 at the International Construction and Utility Equipment Expo, in Louisville, Ky.
Fourteen crane operators, who previously qualified for the Championship at regional competitions, competed for a Grand Prize of $10,000. The Championship was held in the Altec display area using an Altec AC45-127S crane. During 2014 and 2015, CIC Practical Examiners partnered with local sponsors to hold regional qualifiers to select the operators who would advance to the championship.
By the Numbers
19 Average number of years of operating experience
(Least amount of experience=5 years; Most=40)
15 Total number of finalists competing in the Championship
4 Operators who have competed as finalists in previous Championship Events
60/40 Employer Ratio: Crane Rental to Contractor
100+ Number of operators who competed at 2014-2015 Regionals
Meet the Finalists
Paul Aldridge, Paul Aldridge, a CIC-certified operator employed by AME Inc., Fort Mill, S.C., tied for second at the Southeast #1 Regional in Rockingham, N.C. With zero deductions, his score rivaled those of past Championship competitors. He acknowledges that the stress associated with crane operation, and advises those considering this as a career that the job takes extreme patience. He has 20 years of experience. Aldridge is sponsored by Crane Industry Services, M&P Specialty Insurance, and Superior Cranes.
Tim Beck of SNS Rigging, Maxbass, N.D., placed second at the Minot, N.D. Midwest #1 Regional. “A lot of people don’t understand what goes into being a crane operator,” said Beck, who has been operating cranes for about five years. Asked how his work prepared him to perform so well at the competition, Beck said: “It’s fast-paced work moving rigs and you have to be precise. We do a lot of critical lifts with two cranes where the operators must work together.” Beck is sponsored by North Dakota Crane Certification.
Kenneth Bowyer, the 2014 returning Champion, works for ALL Crane Rental of Florida, Tampa. “The public hears about it when we make mistakes,” he said, “but they don’t realize how rarely that happens. We spend weeks every year on continuing education at ALL. This event demonstrates the high caliber of skill operators must acquire in order to do the job right.”
Rudy Cardona, a Supervisor for Bay Ltd., Corpus Christi, Texas, placed second at the Southwest Regional. He has more than 30 years of experience. He advises all newer operators to put safety first on the job. “A lot of the newer crane operators don’t have enough hands-on experience. They need to start at the bottom as rigger and then move up to operator,” he said. For people wanting to become crane operators, Cardona recommends first getting a Rigger Certification and working for at least two years in that capacity “to learn how weight works when being handled, ground conditions, etc.” Cardona is sponsored by Laguna Crane Services LLC and B-C Equipment Sales Inc.
John Clodfelter, Superior Cranes Inc., Rockingham, N.C., tied for second at the Southeast #1 Regional. With zero deductions, his score rivaled those of past Championship competitors. “I love being out there in the cranes. It’s like being in your own world,” he said. He’s been operating for more than 30 years. Clodfelter is sponsored by Crane Industry Services, M&P Specialty Insurance, and Superior Cranes.
Mitchell Cornelius from Birmingham, Ala., qualified during the Midwest #2 regional hosted by Crane Institute of America in Louisville, Ky., the day prior to the Championship. He began operating cranes about 15 years ago, but no longer does so on a daily basis. Today, he’s a trainer for Crane U. When asked how crane operation today has changed over the years, Cornelius replied, “Obviously the technology has changed, but safety is the big one. It’s a major departure from the lax approach safety had in the past.”
Eric Gaut, project manager for CraneWorks, no longer operates cranes on a daily basis, yet scored just a few points behind the first place finisher at the Southeast #2 Regional in Birmingham, Ala. Gaut acknowledged that one of the difficulties of the job is ever-changing standards. “It’s hard to keep up these days with all the rules and regulations changing. It’s hard to remain compliant, I feel like there always some new standard my guys need to meet,” he said. Gaut is sponsored by Crane U and CraneWorks.
Jeff Halland, was one of nine operators employed by Borsheim Crane Service, Williston, N.D., to compete in the Midwest #1 Regional in Minot, N.D. He finished in first place. Halland, who has 10 years of experience, is the Manager of Borsheim’s Minot office. When asked about the most rewarding part of his job, he said, “I get to work with a great crew of guys every day.” Halland is sponsored by North Dakota Crane Certification.
A 40-year veteran of the crane cab, Fred King of Superior Cranes placed first at the Southeast #1 Regional in Rockingham, N.C. With zero deductions, his score rivaled those of past Championship competitors. He began learning to operate cranes when he was a teenager working with his stepfather, a dragline operator. He stressed the importance of proper hands-on training. “You cannot learn good operation in the books,” he said. King is sponsored by Crane Industry Services, M&P Specialty Insurance, and Superior Cranes.
Tyler Mayo, a CIC-certified operator employed by BGM Inc., Hardwick, Vt., is a returning Championship qualifier from the Northeast Regional in North Oxford, Mass. He competed but didn’t place in the 2013 Championship at ConExpo-Con/Agg. He has nine years of experience. Mayo is sponsored by Cranes 101 and Wood’s CRW Corp.
Chris Pavino placing first at the Southeast #2 Regional in Birmingham, Ala. He has 10 years of experience and currently works for rental company CraneWorks. Among the joys of crane operation as a profession is that “every day is different,” said Pavino. “I’m challenged every time I’m out there.” Pavino is sponsored by Crane U and CraneWorks.
Jesse Pettit, a 2012 Champion and 2014 Finalist, makes a return at the 2015 Championship. A U.S. Army Veteran with more than 10 years of experience operating commercially, Pettit now works for Marco Crane & Rigging, Phoenix, Ariz.
Jose Villanueva, a CIC-certified operator with about 12 years of experience, placed first at the Southwest Regional in Corpus Christi, Texas. He works for Bay Ltd., and is a returning Championship qualifier. He competed but didn’t place in the 2014 Championship at ConExpo-Con/Agg. This season, his score was among the lowest of all qualifying operators and is on par with numbers posted at previous Championship events. “Compared to just 10 to 15 years ago, safety is stressed more, which is a great thing,” said Villanueva. Like many operators, he is asked to operate a variety of types of cranes, dictated by the needs of the job. He was drawn into the profession after spending time working in the oil fields. Villanueva is sponsored by Laguna Crane Services LLC and B-C Equipment Sales Inc.
Randy Warner, an operator for Building Crafts, Inc., started his career on the Florida coast at 19 years old and now resides near Cincinnati, Ohio. He qualified during the Midwest #2 regional hosted by Crane Institute of America in Louisville, Ky., the day prior to the Championship. He said the most rewarding part of his job is “going home at the end of every day knowing that is was a safe day for everyone on the job site.”