Jonelle Anderson is Director of Marketing for NessCampbell Crane + Rigging with eight locations throughout Oregon and Washington. In addition to crane and rigging services, the company provides specialized transportation and engineering.
The company’s history dates back to 1946 and began operations under new leadership of five partners in 2015.
You first came into the crane industry working in business development and now you lead marketing strategy. How have those experiences shaped how you approach worker recruitment and retention for your company?
I come from a farming family—six generations of rice farmers, my son is No. 7. I have a psychology degree and went to school to become a teacher. After I met John, it was cranes or bust! Seriously, though, a background in business and heavy equipment paired with psychology and teaching, has shaped me and our company as we seek to hire new employees. I’m honored that the partners at NessCampbell continue to trust me as the brand and reputation manager.
I had to be open to learning all aspects of the industry. I believe exposing yourself to challenges, and being vulnerable to something new makes you a better leader.
We recently hired an 18-year-old intern. He spent three months in the rigging yard. But we want to expose him to all the career paths the industry has to offer. He is set on being a crane operator, but he might just find himself on a different, more rewarding path.
You were recently interviewed by Crane Hot Line magazine about the role of women in the crane industry. You mentioned that one of the challenges is the image of being an “old-fashioned, traditional” industry. What can business owners and managers do to change that image?
That ‘old-fashioned’ image can also get in the way of recruiting young people to the industry. They often think this is a dead-end job, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact that there are still so many family-owned, second or third generation businesses, may contribute to the image. I get how easy it is to fall into the mentality of ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it.’ I appreciate that coming from a family-run ranch.
But we need to do a better job of showing young people all different kinds of companies that interact with each other on a project and all different skills that are needed. Just the crane company alone might have seven different roles being filled—the truck driver, the riggers, an oiler, signalperson, and of course the operator, plus the lift director, not to mention leaders or administrators of the company.
The intern we hired had been awarded a scholarship. We took this opportunity to create a mentorship program. He started as a yard associate. We paired him with the yard manager as his mentor. He will spend time in billing, dispatch, sales, safety. Yes, he sees that this is hard work, but he also sees that there are multiple career paths, and that he will get his chance to succeed.
DICA was one of the sponsors for the Lift & Move USA event NessCampbell hosted. Tell me about working with them for that project.
The Kobergs are an all-American family. They are positive people who stand behind their product and are attentive to their customers. When I approached them about participating, I didn’t just want a check in the mail. I needed more than a sponsor. Not only was DICA kind enough to sponsor our event, but for the first time, Kerry Koberg attended so that he was able to share his industry knowledge with students pursuing future careers in crane, rigging, and specialized transportation.
We were able to showcase their FiberMax Mega Duty crane pads under a Liebherr 81 K.1 self-erecting tower crane supplied by Morrow Equipment. It was a chance to show amazing equipment. Those FiberMax crane pads are big and bad! We purchased the crane pads after the event and we use them now under our Grove GMK7550 AT in Seattle. Just as they are with their customer relationships, DICA was engaged and supportive of this event for students.
What are some of the key elements of a successful corporate safety program?
Safety for us is more about our company culture than just being a safety program. It’s instrumental to our success and business practices. First, we believe safety must be proactive, not reactive. You can never be too busy to focus on safety. Second, safety is not just for the employees in the field. It’s for every department, whether you are in the office or in the shop or on the job. Part of that is making sure we put the right people with the right skills in every department. We refer to ourselves as professionals and we prescribe to the idea of ‘cranemanship.’ If we are wearing a company T-shirt or driving a branded piece of equipment down the road, it’s how you act when you are representing NessCampbell.
We also believe in using the best resources and tools to deliver quality training. We have a mobile training trailer that we take to our employees. It is equipped with an ITI VR simulator that we use to teach hydraulic swing cab, fixed cab, conventional crawler and truck-mount, articulating boom, and tower crane operation, as well as A/D Director, Lift Director, Rigger, and Signalperson.
We will soon be launching NessCampbell University, which will include all of our in-house training plus all the resources available in ITI’s new Learning Hub.
A few years ago you were instrumental in executing the #HookandHaul Challenge, a lip sync contest to raise awareness for workforce development. Was that the most fun you’ve ever had at work? When are you going to do it again?
I’m all about having fun. Of course, we copied the Police Lip Sync Challenge that was going around at the time. We were looking for a creative way to raise awareness of the SC&R Foundation—both to raise money for its programs and to make SC&RA members aware of the scholarships that are available.
For our company it created comradarie among different divisions and departments that don’t usually interact. And I think it did the same for competitors in the industry. Everyone had such an amazing time participating in the effort and I appreciated everyone that put in time doing so. Even though the Kobergs didn’t participate when we challenged them, I do hope they do in the future. Maybe someone else will take the lead to do it again someday down the road. Not in 2020 though—you can’t really lip sync if you are wearing a mask!