The Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA) is an international trade association with approximately 1,300 members spread across 43 nations. These members are involved in some of the world’s most significant infrastructure projects and transportation challenges, from lifting entire bridges into position to hauling loads weighing thousands of tons all the way across the continent.
All sectors within the industry are represented by the Association, from specialized transportation, machinery, industrial maintenance and millwrighting, to crane and rigging operations, manufacturing, and rentals.
In order to best support its diverse body of members, the SC&RA is organized into four separate groups: The Crane & Rigging Group, The Allied Industries Group, The Ladies Group, and the Transportation Group. These divisions work together to help members run safer, more efficient businesses by providing advocacy, research and education, networking opportunities, and other means of support.
The SC&RA works at both the state and national levels to minimize burdensome regulations and laws. The association works closely with labor unions and a number of government organizations including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Department of Transportation to ensure that members are well represented. The SC&RA’s Northern Virginia location gives staff quick access to the nation’s capital, allowing frequent interaction between the association and federal bodies. In addition, SC&RA staff members travel throughout the United States and to international locations to fully represent member interests.
The SC&RA helped accomplish a number of transportation policy changes last year that created “greater harmonization and efficiencies for movement of permitted loads,” the association website reports. Examples cover a large number of states and include the adoption of safe haven access in North Carolina, the adoption of weekend travel and an increase in permit length in Pennsylvania, the adoption of weekend travel in Delaware, and a lengthening of weekend travel times in Illinois, as well as an expansion in size of weekend permitted moves. Connecticut increased its length threshold to 90 feet before requiring escorts, while Kansas, Georgia and Colorado all implemented new automated permit systems. Wisconsin did away with the Sunday restriction on the Milwaukee expressway and increased the state’s weekend travel allowance. The I-70 bridge connecting St. Louis to Illinois opened for permits, New Mexico approved a $1 million plan designed to improve permit efficiencies, and Virginia increased allowable attachments from 12 feet to 14 feet and began issuing local permits.
Keeping members informed is a crucial SC&RA service. To ensure that members stay abreast of the latest industry trends and developments, the association boasts a range of publications including monthly webinars, two monthly magazines, and a weekly newsletter. In addition, the association has been working to increase its social media profile, enhancing communication with its members by utilizing Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The SC&RA also provides technical and reference materials to help members improve safety, profits, and productivity. Industry specific technical manuals and training videos are regularly updated to ensure they remain relevant and are available to members for free or at a reduced cost.
The association also hosts informative events. “Our events are a very key and central focus to what we do to educate members and to build networking platforms,” says SC&RA Executive Vice President, Joel Dandrea. Four major events are held each year: the January Board and Committee Meetings, Specialized Transportation Symposium, Annual Conference and Crane & Rigging Workshop.
In June, the team launched Lift & Move USA, an exciting new event designed to bring more people into the industry. Lift & Move USA addresses the industry’s ongoing labor shortage, which is one of the most pressing current challenges facing members. “It was put together to really address the need to educate high school and vocational school students on our industry [and] the opportunities that exist within the industry,” Mr. Dandrea explains. The event targeted 17 to 26 year olds and military veterans “that are looking for new opportunities.”
The new initiative garnered a significant amount of interest from potential workers, encouraging the SC&RA to take the program to the next level. “It was an extremely successful launch event… We are now looking at next steps to carry that program forward. A number of our members have expressed interest in holding similar events in their area.” Mr. Dandrea admits that there is no “silver bullet” to solve the labor shortage, but Lift & Move USA is a crucial first step. “It will create greater awareness to help solve that problem.”
Another important step is for members to form stronger relationships with organizations that will help funnel more workers into the industry. “The partnerships are going to have to be a little bit stronger. There is going to have to be more open and more frequent communication with the high schools, the trade and technical schools, and the community colleges to help educate them on the opportunities available as welders, mechanics, crane operators, truck drivers.”
The association’s next big event will take place next month in Denver. Over 500 industry representatives are expected to attend this Crane & Rigging Workshop, which has a large focus on safety. “Safety is right at the very core of our mission and we work aggressively on safety education both in materials and webinars, and in live events,” Mr. Dandrea shares.
The SC&RA provides international networking opportunities as well as domestic ones. The global organization is part of the World Crane and Transport Alliance and, in 2014, it joined the World Crane and Transport Alliance, which includes the Crane Industry Council of Australia, European Specialized Transport Association, Crane Rental Association of Canada, Brazil’s Sindipesa, and New Zealand Heavy Haul Association. The SC&RA is also a part of the International Crane Stakeholders Assembly (ICSA), which includes the Federation of European Manufacturers, the European Association of Abnormal Road Transport and Mobile Cranes, the Crane Industry Council of Australia, the China Construction Machinery Association, and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.
Recognizing and promoting industry success is another important aspect of the SC&RA mission. The association holds an annual awards program to honor companies and individuals for excellent service and outstanding safety performance. The coveted Job of the Year award is given to companies who have accomplished outstanding work during the previous year. “There are so many exciting Jobs of the Year that have won,” Mr. Dandrea recalls. “Over the years, there have been hundreds of transport and rigging jobs of the year that have been absolutely spectacular.” Now, photographs and descriptions of each of these winning jobs – stretching all the way back to 1967 – are available in the coffee table book, Monumental!, published by KHL. Job of the Year awards are also highlighted in International Cranes & Specialized Transport, American Cranes, Cranes Today, Crane Hotline and a number of other trade publications.
The SC&R Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that provides education and specialized industry research, is an important part of the association as well. Committees led by the Foundation Board develop and promote specific programs, lead the research of important industry issues, and run a scholarship and grant program. These grants and scholarships help members and their families accomplish a wide variety of goals, from earning Bachelor’s Degrees and Associate Degrees to completing coursework in everything from welding to accounting. The SC&R Foundation has invested more than $500,000 in the industry since it was launched in 1986. One of the Foundation’s most recent new initiatives is partnering with HirePatriots.com, an organization that helps connect veterans with employers.
The SC&RA already covers a dizzying amount of ground – but the team continues to push for more. “We are constantly identifying new and different priorities and working to address them,” Mr. Dandrea reports. He credits active volunteer leadership for the association’s ability to continually meet member needs. These volunteer members “really participate in our governing structure. They are very loyal, they are very committed, and they are very active. They work with us very closely to identify different priorities and how to address those priorities and move forward. The fact that we have such strong support really helps us make a difference on priority issues.”
The SC&RA’s membership retention rate hovers around an impressive 92 percent, “which keeps us in the top tier of associations that enjoy the support and loyalty of their members. I like to think that our retention rate and members’ loyalty makes us a little more efficient and more effective and allows us to get more done on an annual basis. It is a great group of very innovative companies that believe in the association and believe in what we can do for them that keep the SC&RA moving forward.”