When describing his experience in becoming the National Crane Rodeo Winner for 2014, Ken Bowyer of ALL Crane Rental of Florida, LLC said “I had to give it everything I had.” The competition was held at CONEXPO/CON-AGG 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
All contestants drove a Liebherr 1220-5.2 all-terrain crane. “All in all, the whole test took about 15 minutes, with a five-minute warm-up,” Bowyer reports. “The actual hands-on, crane driving portion probably took me about four minutes.”
There were three taxing challenges to meet in the driving portion: the barrel slalom, in which the driver had to pick up a 3,000-lb barrel from which hung a six-foot chain, drag the chain along the ground without lowering the barrel, and then maneuver it through empty 55-gallon drums. The second challenge required the placement of an 850-lb headache ball inside separate barrels in two locations without dumping or moving the barrels out of a very narrow range of acceptability.
The third challenge involved hooking a headache ball to a 10-ft-long, concrete-filled PVC pipe only six inches in diameter, then lifting it from a horizontal to a vertical position before lowering it into a barrel. The difficulty lay in moving a light object with a weighty headache ball. Afterward, drivers had to place the pipe between narrow lines of cones.
In addition to the driving portion, there were two “written” tests: the first, sponsored by Vertex, involved the computer-simulated unloading of a truck; the second, a 20-question general rigging test, was sponsored by Crosby Rigging. “In the end, I was 30 seconds faster than the next best competitor,” Ken says.
Of course, countless members of the ALL Family of Companies were there to cheer him on.
“Close to 80 people from ALL were there,” Ken notes. “My manager, Mitch McDonald; my wife; employees from all over the country—I even got to meet Michael Liptak, Sr. I felt so proud to represent the company and bring us this honor. I have always been made to feel like family at ALL, so it was great to have a chance to contribute to our 50th anniversary celebration. There was a lot of handshaking and claps on the back.”
Ken received a special belt with buckle inscribed with his title as “CIC–Crane Hot Line Magazine National Crane Skills Champion 2014.” Ken was also awarded a check for $2,000 and a miniature Liebherr LR 1100. A special monogrammed jacket was designed for Ken, and a plaque listing his accomplishment will be engraved and sent to ALL.
The rodeo’s goal is to emphasize the need for safe crane operation, which can only be achieved through training and experience. Furthermore, it seeks to raise the stature and visibility of crane operation as a profession. Operators gain recognition for mastering the skills required to be successful and provide positive publicity for the crane and rigging industry.
The rodeo, or Crane Operator Skills Championship, is a partnership between CIC and Maximum Capacity Media, publisher of Crane & Rigging Hot Line magazine. Other sponsors supporting the event are Liebherr, Houston International Insurance Group, Slingmax, The Crosby Group, Hirschmann, DICA Outrigger Pads, and InfoChip.
Since 1964, the ALL Family of Companies has grown to become one of the largest crane and equipment rental companies in North America. The company offers its fleet of cranes, aerial work platforms, boom trucks, material handlers, and other lift equipment from strategic locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, providing rental, sales, service, and jobsite analysis to help customers get the right equipment for the job. An important measure of their commitment is meeting or exceeding all pertinent regulatory and safety standards. For more information, contact ALL Crane Rental of Florida, LLC at 6429 Harney Road, Tampa, FL, 33610. Phone: 813-304-4100. Toll free: 813-304-4100. Fax: 813-622-7787. On the Web: www.allcrane.com.