AEMP Certified Equipment Managers (CEM) Add Value for Employers and Grow Careers
Thursday, December 7, 2017
Posted by: AEMP
by Georgia Krause
Mark Wilson is the go-to guy who, when challenged with an equipment problem on a tightly scheduled job, can be depended upon to find a solution that fits not only the equipment application and safety requirements, but also meets the cost parameters of the overall project.
"Generally speaking,” Mark says, “construction companies are famous for putting people into the equipment manager’s position because they are good at operating the machines but have no real training or knowledge about the business side of things. Equipment is always on the cost side of a job, and where you can cut costs without production losses, you save money. Frequently, this is left up to the project or construction manager who is not in touch with that scenario but more focused - and rightfully so - on getting the job done safely and under budget."
"That works for a while, but you need someone with the training and foresight to curb the overruns or reduce, for example, the overall fuel costs, repairs, rental fees, contract negotiations. During construction, it's easy to lose sight of your main objectives due to schedules etc. With a person who is trained and knowledgeable in equipment management on the team, it's a slam dunk. And, I think we would have a lot happier CEOs."
Wilson's right - and that is the reason he earned his Certified Equipment Manager (CEM) credentials. “The main reason I took the CEM course was to have the "whole package" when it comes to managing equipment in my portfolio," he says. "That's where AEMP caught my attention. Sure, you can have a degree in business, but you might not know what a machine is going to cost the company. That machine can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to run, repair, and maintain, or even what it actually does, for that matter. This information, not just the machine's functions, is all in the AEMP training."
Earning CEM credentials is often sponsored by a candidate's employer, but Mark decided to invest in his own future, paying the cost of the program himself. "Yes, it was 100-percent my cost to take the training. The self satisfaction of completing and passing supersedes any cost, and the fact that I don't owe anybody for it. That might be the Scottish stubbornness in me, but it feels good."
Equipment managers and fleet managers are an often overlooked source of financial and business management. This is somewhat understandable given that until the last 15 years or so, keeping the fleet's equipment up and running was the primary focus of the job.
However, as the machines and vehicles have become more complex, so have their diagnostics. New data offers the opportunity to analyze how a piece of equipment actually affects the contractor's bottom line, so managing the machine's entire impact on the job has grabbed the spotlight means the equipment manager's position has become the keystone to every project’s success. CEMs are a vital part of their organization’s management team. To ignore what these professionals contribute is to overlook an excellent production and cost savings resource.
Mark's career path is a very good example of what experience and skill sets today's equipment managers bring to a construction company's management table.
Mark hails from Killin, a village in the central highlands of Scotland. Mark's family ran a noted hotel but his father George Wilson competed in the Isle of Man TT, a breakneck 37.7-mile motorcycle race through public roads of the Snaefell Mountains which USA Today calls the race the most insane road race in the world. George passed his mechanical expertise to Mark.
After school, Mark emigrated to Canada, working first in Nisku, Alberta, then followed opportunity in 1988 to a goldmine job in northwestern British Columbia. The lifestyle was decidedly not 'hotel' accommodations. Marks says it was a fly-in only job, no roads in or out, camp accommodations, and the shift was 28 days on, seven days off. There he met his crane guru, Lloyd McHarg, who first put Mark into a crane.
Mark gained real-life construction management experience running his own excavating firm in the 90's, but eventually closed the company. "The business was good but I just got tired of chasing my money," Mark says, a lesson many business owners have learned.
Working with Gus Gudmundsson, his best friend and fellow Lloyd McHarg crane scholar, Mark became a crane supervisor for JV Driver, a large industrial construction firm, for a project in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The project was the largest JV Driver had taken on and Mark used the opportunity to become equipment manager. "Definitely my grandest role to date," Mark says with wry Scottish wit. "I had a crew of 20+ which included mechanics, apprentices, and environmental stewards to look after leaks and potential equipment failures. I managed the care and control of all onsite equipment to the tune of around 1,800 pieces including on-road vehicles, lifts, cranes, zoom booms, fuel trucks and fuel stations, utility vehicles, and specialized electrical equipment - everything with a value of over $1,500.00 was my responsibility. On this particular site, we had a peak employee count per day at over 1900, to a cost of over eight hundred million dollars."
As the energy sector economy fluctuates, so do opportunities and after 11 years with JV Driver, Mark (with Gus) landed work running a crane for Allwest Crane & Rigging at the Brucejack Goldmine, about 40 miles north of Stewart, BC. How does he get to work for this project? Let Mark describe his commute to the Brucejack mine project:
"A normal work shift for me was 14 twelve-hour days on and 14 off. To get to the Brucejack Goldmine, I drove 80 miles from Creston, BC, to the airport, took an 1 ½ hour flight to Vancouver from Cranbrook BC, connect with a 2 hour flight to Terrace BC, spent the night in a hotel, got on a coach for a 6 hour trip, changed to a 4 x 4 bus, drove up and over the Knipple Glacier seven miles to Brucejack mine camp. Fourteen days later, I’d do it in reverse. In a nutshell, that’s pretty much the norm for our type of construction work."
Mark says not many of the equipment managers in Canada have the CEM credentials and feels Canada will soon require CEM-type training. Since the Brucejack mine project has ended, Wilson is looking forward to a shorter commute in his new position as Operations Manager of Allwest Crane & Rigging. With his deep foundation of equipment expertise, business management know-how, and AEMP Certified Equipment Management credentials, Mark's portfolio makes him a very valuable addition to his new employers.