The 2014 Top Trainers are Chosen

December 8, 2014 Crane & Rigging Hot Line and the Association of Crane & Rigging Professionals (ACRP) congratulate Nelson Plumb, operator, trainer, and lifting and rigging advisor for Crossland Construction Co., Columbus, Kan., and Sam Smith, training manager for North American Crane Bureau, Lake Mary, Fla., the 2014 Top Trainers. Nominated by Clay Kubicek, Plumb won in the Corporate Category, while Smith won in the Professional Category. He was nominated by Joe Crispell, executive vice president.

Plumb and Smith will each receive complimentary registration to the 2015 ACRP General Assembly, to be held May 12-15 in Kansas City, Mo. During the meeting, they will be recognized with an engraved commemorative trophy, and will receive scholarships, made possible through funding provided by Top Trainer Sponsors. Scholarships may be used by the recipient for furthering their own or a student’s education.

Top Trainer judges, including ACRP representatives, evaluated each nomination on a scale of 1 to 10 in use of innovative or hands-on instruction; encouraging peer or corporate accountability; evidence that training was successful; and overall impact on the students, environment, or industry. Eligible trainers must have been actively engaged in crane, rigging, lifting, or construction safety training between Aug. 1, 2013, and July 31, 2014. Previous Top Trainer winners are ineligible for five years, although previous Honorable Mention nominees are eligible.

Corporate Top Trainer
As a subject-matter expert on rigging, signaling, and tower cranes, Plumb is sought-after for advice on lifting and rigging scenarios from people both inside and outside of his company. As a trainer, he relies on the wealth of knowledge he has gained working for crane rental, steel erection, and general contracting companies to develop personal training plans for the crane operators and riggers under his tutelage. This individualized approach exhibits its success in the 95% passing rate those taught by him have achieved in earning nationally accredited certifications and the low accident and injury rates of those operators and riggers.

According to Clay Kubicek, education director for Crossland Construction, “Nelson has spent hours upon hours working as a subject-matter expert for NCCER. He gets calls from people all over the United States asking for input on rigging and lifting scenarios. Most of our jobsite superintendents and project managers contact him whenever there is rigging or lifting involved. And our operators that Nelson has trained have had zero incidents since Nelson joined the company.”

Since coming to Crossland Construction in 2006, Plumb has been instrumental in establishing Crossland Academy’s training curriculum, which combines materials from NCCER programs, The Crosby Group’s rigging program, and materials he has developed himself for use at Crossland and for teaching classes on tilt-up and precast erection at Kansas State Technological Center in Pittsburg, Kan. He supplements these materials with specific instruction for the type of work being done on a particular job site, showing how the lessons practically apply to operations.

Earning honorable mentions in the Corporate Category were Al Abel, Lifting Specialist for Mazzella Cos., Cleveland, who continues to be nominated for this award year after year, and Mike Eggenberger, Crane Safety Manager at Bay Ltd., Corpus Christi, Texas.

Professional Top Trainer

“At 75-years-young, Sam has a strong blend of military service, vocational education, and real-time experience,” said Joe Crispell, executive vice president of NACB. In the 18 years he has worked for NACB, Smith has conducted more than 500 training seminars all over the globe—from Alabama to Al Khubar. “As a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, Sam knows how to give and take orders,” said Crispell. Smith clearly communicates the training objectives to students then uses a variety of techniques to reinforce the learning points. “He carefully blends lectures, exercises, and hands-on demonstrations to expose students to information and to immerse them in it,” said Crispell.

Simulations, hands-on craft exercises, and demonstrations using miniature equipment models are all a part of his repertoire. According to both former students and his employer, one of his most effective tools is to assign homework research projects to students that, upon completion, reinforces and blends in with the learning objectives to take place the next day. Students appreciate Smith’s talent as an instructor and those in his train-the-trainer classes hope to emulate him. “Sam’s program was one of the most informative train-the-trainer classes I have attended in 37 years as a crane operator,” said one student. Another said: “The information Sam has stored in his head is amazing! I hope to be as good as him some day.”

In addition to his years in the military and with corporations serving the defense industry, Smith has provided training for many safety-conscious corporations, including DuPont, GE, ExxonMobil, and others. Crispell describes Smith as a “walking encyclopedia,” saying that the level and variety of his professional experiences shape the training programs he conducts.

Earning honorable mentions in the Professional Category were Scott Crowder, senior instructor and inspector for Crane Inspection and Certification Bureau, Orlando, Fla., and Howard Kaplan, owner of Liberty Crane and Rigging Consulting, and a repeat honoree.

The Top Trainer program, now entering its eighth year, would not be possible without the generous contributions of our sponsors. The 2014 sponsors are Industrial Training International, platinum; Rigging Institute and Slingmax, gold; Altec Sentry and Terex, silver; and American International Crane Bureau, First Sling Technology, Morrow Equipment Co., and Stephenson Equipment, bronze.