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Top Trainers Recognized in Ninth Annual Award Program

With the crane operator certification requirements in the Cranes and Derricks in Construction final rule going into effect in November 2017, quality crane training is more important than ever. Technology-based training tools, like computer-based simulators and virtual reality, aid the process, but the real heroes are the men and women who bring the classroom to life.

Each year, Crane Hot Line recognizes industry trainers for having a positive impact on students, the work environment, or the industry. They do this through the use of innovative training techniques or hands-on instruction, by encouraging peer or corporate accountability, and/or through quantitative or anecdotal evidence that shows successful training.

ralf20notheisCorporate Top Trainer
Ralf Notheis

In 2016, the Corporate Top Trainer Award went to Ralf Notheis, manager – Crane Academy, Bigfoot Crane Co. Inc., Abbotsford, British Columbia. He represents Corporate Trainers who work for companies such as suppliers, dealers, contractors or rental companies, and provide crane and rigging training to their customers and/or employees.

With more than two decades of experience in the heavy equipment industry, Ralf Notheis has the knowledge and personality to take a complicated subject and relate it to a group of trainees, no matter what course they are studying. His background, which includes positions at Canada’s largest crane rental companies, has given him the practical experience and technical expertise that are highly sought after in crane and rigging training. Ralf creates his own teaching materials using real-life scenarios to make the material relevant. His theory content covers everything from correct maintenance procedures to always being early so that mistakes are not made while rushing to make up lost time. To date, not one of Ralf’s students has been involved in a serious incident.

matt20schmittProfessional Top Trainer
Matt Schmitt

Matt Schmitt, Instructor – Overton Safety Training Inc., Aloha, Ore., was recognized as the 2016 Professional Top Trainer. Schmitt represents Professional Trainers working for companies that are primarily engaged in training activities.

Communicating a complex technical subject in a simplified manner has gotten Matt Schmitt far in his training career. His knowledge of technical lifting combined with his unique style of teaching has enabled him to bring clarity to a group of students who may not have passed a difficult certification process without expert instruction. Matt was tasked with bringing up to speed crane operators who must comply with Chicago city rules and regulations. Many students have a primary language other than English, and their background is in material delivery with limited education on other types of equipment. Using some of Overton Safety Training’s base materials, Matt worked with the operators to develop a training program that improved their previous training and testing by more than 200%.

Six other trainers received Honorable Mention recognition. Far more than a conciliatory prize, these individuals are excellent trainers, worthy of recognition.

Corporate Honorable Mention

  • Chris Smith, Director of Training and Corporate Service Manager, Morrow Equipment Co.
  • Don Horn, Senior Technical Trainer, Link-Belt Construction Equipment
  • Larry Petkovsek, Lifting Specialist, Mazzella Lifting Technologies

Professional Honorable Mention

  • Amanda Jordan, Vice President of Operations, American International Crane Bureau (AICB)
  • Don Childers, Owner, Nationwide Equipment Training
  • Jesse Garcia, Instructor/Inspector, Crane Inspection & Certification Bureau (CICB)

Endorsed by the ACRP, the 9th Annual Training Excellence Awards are supported by the following sponsors:

Platinum Sponsor: Lifting Gear Hire

Gold Sponsors: Rigging Institute and Slingmax Rigging Solutions

Silver Sponsors: Altec Sentry, Crane Inspection & Certification Bureau (CICB), Terex, Mazzella Companies, and Morrow

Bronze Sponsors: Stephenson Equipment Inc. and the American International Crane Bureau (AICB)

ACRP has provided a complimentary registration to its 2017 General Assembly to the two Top Trainers, and winners are recognized in an award ceremony at the meeting. Corporate and Professional Top Trainers also receive a scholarship, made possible through donations by the 2016 sponsors. Scholarships may be used by the recipient for continuing education, or donated to a student.

2014 Trainers Receive Awards at ACRP General Assembly

Each year, Crane & Rigging Hot Line and the Association of Crane & Rigging Professionals (ACRP) recognize two crane and rigging industry trainers—a Corporate Trainer and a Professional Trainer—who use innovative instruction, encourage responsibility among their peers or companies, and make a positive impact on their students, environment, and industry.

In May, the 2014 Top Trainers were presented with their awards at ACRP’s annual meeting, which was held in Kansas City, Mo. The winners included Corporate Top Trainer Nelson Plumb of Crossland Construction and Professional Top Trainer Sam Smith of North American Crane Bureau.

Nelson Plumb
Nelson Plumb

Plumb, an operator, trainer, and lifting and rigging advisor, provides an individualized approach to training, which equates to a 95% success rate for students seeking nationally accredited certifications. “His passion for lifting safely, efficiently, and correctly, followed by his communication with students even after the training is over, is what sets him apart as a trainer,” said Katie Parrish, editor of Crane & Rigging Hot Line, who presented the awards at the ACRP General Assembly.

Sam Smith
Sam Smith

Although Smith, training manager for NACB, has conducted more than 500 training seminars across the globe, he connects with each student through a combination of hands-on demonstrations, learning, exercises, and lectures. “His professional experience in the military and with companies serving the defense industry helps shape the training he conducts,” Parrish said.

Nominate a Crane or Rigging Trainer

Deadline July 31, 2015 ●

The following companies are providing financial sponsorship for the 2015 annual training excellence awards program. Additional sponsorships available. For information, 515-574-2312 or

  • Gold Sponsors Rigging Institute LLC and Slingmax Rigging Products
  • Silver Sponsors Terex and Altec Sentry
  • Bronze Sponsor Stephenson Equipment Inc.

Also supporting the program to its members is the Institute for Safety and Health Management.

One trainer in each category—Corporate and Professional—will be honored. Who is eligible? Crane or Rigging Trainers, Craft Instructors, Safety Directors, CTE Instructors from Contractors, Equipment Dealers, Rental Companies, Rigging Suppliers, Manufacturers and Training Companies.

Winners receive complimentary registration to the 2016 ACRP General Assembly and Workshop, where they will be presented with a trophy during an awards ceremony. They will also be granted $2000 scholarships to be used for educational purposes. Both winners and those receiving Honorable Mention will receive free registration to attend the next scheduled Crane & Rigging Conference. The first 30 people making a nomination will be sent a 2015 Hot Line Crane Guide, featuring data on crane models from more than 100 manufacturers, circa 1950 to 2014. 

Tips for Making a 2015 Nomination

  • Clear communication and documentation supporting the trainer’s qualities and accomplishments, such as letters from customers, trainer evaluations, and the trainer’s resume.
  • Supporting evidence of the trainer’s positive impact on students, the work environment, or the industry through evaluations or comments from trainees.
  • Evidence of the trainer’s use of innovative training techniques or hands-on instruction.
  • Proof of how the trainer encouraged peer or corporate accountability.
  • Any other examples of quantitative or anecdotal evidence that training was successful.
  • While recognition is not a popularity contest, it is helpful when multiple nominations are made for an individual, providing varying personal testimony from colleagues or students.


About the Companies

Since 1997, Crane & Rigging Hot Line has been the leading national marketplace for the crane industry. Published monthly, the magazine offers readers a broad mix of topics related to current issues, new products, and job applications. It is read by more than 80,000 crane and rigging professionals in heavy construction, specialty trades, crane and heavy equipment rental, mining, manufacturing, and equipment sales.


Association of Crane & Rigging Professionals (ACRP) is a non-profit association whose mission is dedicated to improving crane operations and rigging activities in all industries. This is accomplished by providing educational opportunities to its members and the public. The association holds an annual General Assembly meeting. ACRP works to develop national quality standards for the training and qualification process of crane operators and riggers.

Crane & Rigging Hot Line Announces Top Trainer 2012 Winners

November 7, 2012Crane & Rigging Hot Line is proud to announce the winners of Top Trainer 2012. Brian Fuller, southeast regional safety manager for All Erection & Crane Rental Corp., has won the Corporate Top Trainer award, and Don Jordan, president of American International Crane, has been named the Professional Top Trainer for 2012. Continue reading Crane & Rigging Hot Line Announces Top Trainer 2012 Winners

Sims Crane Safety Director Invests in Future Safety Professional

Bob Berry, winner of the 2011 Top Trainer award in the Corporate Category, recently donated his scholarship to an up-and-coming safety professional in the Sims Crane & Equipment organization.

“Chris Peek was assigned to me as a safety assistant,” said Berry, who is director of safety for the Tampa, Fla., crane rental company. “It is nice to see a young person with drive and an attitude to learn.” In discussing with him the qualifications needed for a career in safety, Berry said he saw an opportunity to use the $2,000 scholarship he was awarded as a Top Trainer winner to help Peek develop his career. Continue reading Sims Crane Safety Director Invests in Future Safety Professional