National Association of Heavy Equipment Training Services, NAHETS Blog

Archive for March, 2007

Heavy Equipment Theft A Growing Problem

Posted by nahetsblog on March 22, 2007

The Contractors Association of West Virginia is holding a seminar today as part of the 28th Annual West Virginia Equipment, Technology, and Design Exposition. Big deal, right? This happens every year. However, this year’s exposition will be holding a seminar on a topic previously not discussed: heavy equipment theft.

The CAWV became aware of this problem as Mike Zirkle, director of member services, heard stories and discussions on the matter at a contractors’ meeting. Although the article focuses on West Virginia specifically, it also exposes heavy equipment theft as a national concern. In other words, such stories and discussions take place across the country.

The crime bureau reports that heavy equipment theft is a $1 billion-a-year problem nationally. Reported instances of equipment theft have increased 10-20% a year since 1996! Interestingly, these statistics still may not tell the full story. Prior to 2001, pieces of heavy equipment did not have uniform vehicle identification numbers, making more difficult to keep track of equipment before that year. Fortunately now the situation has improved, as each piece of heavy equipment has a VIN number that identifies make, model, and more characteristics.

A main factor of the problem is lack of security. About 90% of heavy equipment thefts supposedly happen between 5 p.m. Friday-8 a.m. Monday, when many workers are off for the weekend. Also, it is not too difficult to steal a piece of equipment in broad daylight either, since bystanders usually do not know a thief from a worker.

Another compounding factor is that heavy equipment is not titled by state Division of Motor Vehicles, which means that equipment can be transferred with a bill of sale only, easily falling through the cracks. Some thieves are bright enough to dispose of the original identification plate and say it just got knocked off, while it never gets replaced. Also, in multiple instances one key can fit more than one piece of equipment, making it all the more easier to steal multiple pieces, let alone one.

I have personal experience in the matter. I used to operate equipment for a construction company. I recall that on a Case backhoe and Sky Trak forklift, we would use a bent nail as a key at times, because the keys ended up missing somehow. All we had to do was hammer a nail flat, stick it in the ignition, and turn it. We had hundreds of keys! If I wanted to, I could have gone to the site at night and simply driven away with one of the machines. It is pretty ridiculous when you think about how easy it can be!

Aside from this, construction companies in general are making it too easy for thieves to steal the equipment. How many times have you driven past a road or building under construction and seen empty backhoes, skid steers, dozers, etc…In Las Vegas this is a daily occurrence! There is a lot more the heavy equipment industries can be doing to resolve these issues. The article states a few, such as keeping pictures on file, setting up cameras, filing all papers, and even global positioning tracking devices. However, these ideas and others will do nothing unless put into action.

Simply put, this problem will continue to grow exponentially as thieves find ways to beat the system at hand. It will not be enough to simply have the VIN number. Something more needs to happen before this $1 billion problem becomes $1.5 or $2 billion problem, and further depreciates the heavy equipment and construction industries.

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200 Ton Crane Topples Over

Posted by nahetsblog on March 20, 2007

NAHETS places emphasis on being aware of significant events related to safety within the heavy equipment and construction industries. Monday night a 200-ton crane fell over at an Aventura Mall construction site in Miami.

Surprisingly, only one worker was injured, suffering a broken leg, which was caused when the crane hit the worker. Reporters say that if the crane had toppled to the front instead of to the side, the lives of at least 12 workers would have been at risk.

Inspectors from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) suggest mechanical issues caused the accident, but are not certain.

It is fortunate that only one worker was injured, considering the type of accident. Such an incident should drive any heavy equipment/construction company to further their campaign on safety. One worker is worth it. Although it was an accident, there is no room for neglect when it comes to equipment inspections, having a certified and qualified operator who knows the piece of equipment he/she is operating, and preparing beforehand should such an incident occur.

The National Association of Heavy Equipment Training Schools, NAHETS, revolves around high standards and safety training. Students learn through classroom education, simulation, and first hand experience everything about the types of equipment they operate. Only professionals teach and train. With nationally certified instructors and graduates, the heavy equipment/construction industry is becoming safer, even if it is one operator, or one piece of equipment at a time!

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National Heavy Equipment Operator Job Placement Researcher Hired

Posted by nahetsblog on March 20, 2007

Friday, March 9, 207 signaled a step forward for NAHETS, one I have been anticipating for quite some time. NAHETS has employed the services of Mary Ellen, whose purpose is to serve as a national job placement officer.

Mary Ellen is an expert at finding employment within the industry as heavy equipment operators or crane operators, and will be working with NAHETS full-time locating jobs for NAHETS graduates.

This is a significant development for NAHETS, one I’ve been waiting on for quite some time. More jobs for our graduates. Within her first ten days of employment, MAry Ellen has already found over 1,000 available jobs for our graduates.

Graduates in the heavy equipment operator program and crane operator programs should see an increase in the number of available jobs provided by our job placement assistance departments. On Tuesday March 20, 2007 at 12:00pm, NAHETS will conduct a special meeting introducing Mary Ellen to member campuses. Welcome aboard Mary!

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Canadian Government throwing Money at Heavy Equipment

Posted by nahetsblog on March 19, 2007

Canadian colleges are receiving a windfall in government funding for heavy equipment technician programs according to an article published in a Daily Commercial News and Construction Record a Canadian publication.

Thus far the U.S. has relied heavily on private training to teach heavy equipment technicians and operators. Today the majority of heavy equipment technicians and operators are trained through a handful of private schools and public schools. This Canadian emphasis on financial assistance directly to institutions indicates the need for additional heavy equipment related training by our northern neighbors. Perhaps this is directly related to the heavy oil sands in western Canada.

The National Association of Heavy Equipment Training Schools, NAHETS, placed an outside representative in the Canadian province of Alberta and is currently working with large employers including Exxon, Mobile and BP. With a home base in Edmonton, Kim Harrold is in the staging process of creating a heavy equipment operator conduit to those companies seeking highly skilled heavy equipment operators in the U.S. Kim Harrold can be reached at:

Kim Harrold, NAHETS Canada
National Association of Heavy Equipment Training Schools
Tel: (780) 719-4710
Fax: (780) 481-8385

Posted in Graduate Placement | 2 Comments »

NAHETS Equipment News

Posted by nahetsblog on March 17, 2007

As a NAHETS PR representative I continually come across news that relates to the heavy equipment industry, but that doesn’t necessarily get much ink unless it has a heavy editorial spin. I came across this article about the difference between skid steers and compact wheel loaders. The interesting thing about the article is not necessarily the statement of differences, but rather the fact that each piece of equipment was tested on five different tasks to best assess the qualities of the skid steer and compact wheel loader.

The article in its entirety can be found at

The five tasks put to the test: truck loading, fork operation, digging a hole, auger operation, and grapple operation. Four professional equipment operators put the skid steer and compact wheel loader to the test, and came to several conclusions.

Many preferred the skid steer for maneuverability and visibility to the bucket cutting edge when digging a hole. However, the breakout force and bucket capacity of the wheel loader made it a comparable machine for the task.

The skid steer proved maneuverable and capable of loading a dump truck, but the compact wheel loader provided better visibility. The wheel loader places attachments further away from the operator, which can be a disadvantage in certain circumstances.

When lifting a pallet from a flatbed trailer, most operators preferred the visibility to the forks provided by the skid steer. The wheel loader proved to be a good choice in situations where ground disturbance is an issue.

Both pieces of equipment proved capable and efficient in most circumstances, easily performing the tasks described in the article.

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Shorter Programs are No Bologna

Posted by nahetsblog on March 16, 2007

A student once asked me why he should attend our 3-week program, when he could attend a similar program for four weeks. My answer was to the point: if a school forces you to attend longer than necessary to learn the skills necessary for employment, then they are not serving their student population. On the other hand, I replied, if the goal is to become a professional student then a long program may be the route to take.

Shorter programs are no longer restricted to career education. In 2003 NAHETS shorted their training programs from 4, 8, and 12 weeks to 3, 6, and 9 weeks. Now we are seeing public universities are following suit. The entire European Union (EU) has signed a pact entitled the “Bologna Declaration” that strives to have all universities and colleges revamp to allow for a 3 year Bachelor’s program. 45 countries have now signed on the Bologna Declaration. European nations are attacking the U.S.’ four-year Bachelors programs much the same way the “for profits” have attacked in recent years. University of Phoenix, now the nation’s largest provider of adult private education, pushed the envelope in 1976 with a tailored program for the “lifelong learner”.

Who would have thought? Education now has a clock? The impact private, for-profit education has had over the last decade on public education delivery methods is quite expansive. Universities, entire countries, are realizing that education has a return on investment (ROI) element, and that element is directly related to the main purpose of education. Education is not a pursuit of knowledge for the sake of one’s own personal gain. Education’s main purpose is to enable individuals to advance self and society through knowledge gained in formal and informal settings. Never has there been an educated person who did not impact society in some manner.

Finally, the public education community is understanding what education is all about. As a result, they are becoming more like their counterparts in the “for profits” and career college arenas.

Matt Klabacka
President, NAHETS

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Employees with heart

Posted by nahetsblog on March 15, 2007

True Story.

In May of 2004 an employer with 350 operators visited the school. He gathered all the students around him and asked which one of them would want to start work right when they graduated. All raised their hands. He then asked which ones would not mind starting out digging with a hand shovel until an opening occurred. One man raised his hand. The employer hired that student right on the spot, then went on to explain to the class that this student would start out on a Caterpillar 631 scraper ( an 800K piece of equipment) because he showed his desire to work. The other students were stunned by what just happened. I told them that employers are looking for heart first, skill second. It was a defining moment for most of them. 90% of those students went on and found employment in the first 15 days of graduation.

On March 11 I was attending the Las Vegas Nevada Youth Conference, where I had the privilege of hearing LaVell Edwards speak. LaVell was the head coach of BYU football from 1972 to 2000. Prior to Edwards’ final game, the football stadium at Brigham Young University was renamed LaVell Edwards Stadium in his honor. At the time of his retirement, he ranked sixth in all-time victories, and in 2003 received the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award, presented by the American Football Coaches Association.

LaVell’s basic message at the conference was this: You are what you think you are. The best football players are not the fastest, strongest, smartest. They’re the ones with heart. Heart can’t be taught. Believe and you can do. Life happens. 10% of it is what happens to you; the other 90% is how you react to it.

Most NAHETS graduates never thought they could operate heavy equipment. The 5% of our student body made up of women never believed they could operate large equipment. Employers want employees with heart, not the maverick operator. Within 90 days of graduation our students have mastered the level of skill of more experienced operators. Which makes them the exceptional candidate to potential employers: operators with heart and skill.

Matt Klabacka
President, NAHETS

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GA School of Construction: Recent Graduate Opportunities

Posted by nahetsblog on March 15, 2007

East Coast Drilling and Blasting attended the last two graduations at the Georgia School of Construction and hired 5 of our graduates. They called in today and need to fill 5 crews in the next few weeks and will be at the school this Friday, March 16, to conduct interviews.

Phoenix Crane, who hired John Carrio from our Crane Program, has started an apprentice program specifically targeted for graduates of our school. They started the interview process this week to find the next student to fill the apprenticeship.

Darrell Woodrum
Georgia School of Construction

Posted in Graduate Placement | 1 Comment »

AGC Annual Convention, San Antonio

Posted by nahetsblog on March 14, 2007

Mike Martens, the NAHETS VP of Operations is planning to attend the AGC (Associated General Contractors of America) Convention in San Antonio, TX, on March 21-24.

We at NAHETS are thrilled to be a part of AGC, and plan to network with AGC members to get the word out about our schools and the training programs we offer. Promoting NAHETS member schools is an important aspect to our networking, and we plan to use the AGC Convention not only to forge relationships for our schools, but also with potential employers.

Standard “simulators”, used as an educational tool in our schools, are something that we want others to know about. We plan to use the time at the convention to spread the knowledge about these simulators, as well as the basics of NAHETS standards (which can be found at

The Oklahoma College of Construction will also be present at the AGC Convention.

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New DVD’s and booklets

Posted by nahetsblog on March 13, 2007

New DVD’s have been finalized and are awaiting distribution for our member heavy equipment operator schools and training, contacts and others.

The new DVD kit with booklet highlights hundreds of hours of footage taken by NAHETS schools in order to present the exciting changes across our campuses. History of nahets and heavy equipment operator training schools.

Look for it in a mailbox near you, or if you would like an advance copy please email ‘’ with your name, phone and address and we’ll be happy to mail you the latest and greatest in NAHETS news.

Till Next Time,
Brian Thornton
Technology Director

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