Crane Institute of America, located in the Northstar Industrial Park, in Sanford, was the site for the Southeastern Regional Crane Operator Rodeo qualifying event.
Experienced crane operators from around the south competed in a skills test to become one of two winners to receive $1,000 cash and all expense paid trip to compete in the National Championship. The competition will be held in Las Vegas, N.V. during the CONEXPO-CON/AGG world trade exposition in March 2014.
The Southeastern Regional Rodeo was hosted by Crane Institute of America, the Florida Crane Ownersâ€™ Council, and M&P Specialty Insurance. It provided a stage for operators to showcase their skills for fellow crane operators, family, and friends.
Amy McElrath, Vice President of sales and marketing for M&P Specialty Insurance, one of the sponsors, said events like the skills competition highlight the importance of becoming certified as a crane operator and knowing proper safety procedures.
â€œTo have more expert operators out there has made a big difference worldwide within the industry. Injuries have gone down, claims have gone down,â€ McElrath said. â€œIt saves lives.â€
In addition to operatorsâ€™ friends and family, the event attracted non-industry folks like Becky Young of Sanford to the event. â€œYou have to have a lot of skill to make that do what it needs to do, and understand all the dynamics of it,â€ she said. â€œItâ€™s good to see that theyâ€™re being so careful.â€
First time competitor, Thomas Cunningham of Simâ€™s Crane in Orlando, the second operator to take the controls during the event, had the score to beat. He held the lead throughout the day, and ultimately won 1st place.
â€œIt was a challenging course,â€ Cunningham said. â€œOne that tasks operators to perform multiple functions at a time.â€
Kenneth Bowyer of All Crane Rental in Apopka, was also a first-time competitor but impressed the judges by taking 2nd place at the event.
In addition to raising awareness for the industry, the event also gave back to the community in the form of a donation to the Salvation Army in Sanford, FL. Susan Headley of Crane Institute of America urged attendees to make donations to a Salvation Army kettle, and presented Sgt. Tim Roberts with a check for $1,000 to benefit the charity. The funds will be used for the Sanford organizationâ€™s Angel Tree program, which provides gifts to children whose parents are incarcerated.