The Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association (SC&RA) represents companies from small mom-and-pop operations with a few cranes and trucks all the way up to massive multinational corporations with thousands of employees. The SC&RA is now in its seventh decade and still proudly serving the industry through advocacy efforts, networking opportunities, education, and other initiatives that see businesses operate as efficiently and safely as possible.
The SC&RA is a well-known and respected international trade association representing about 1,360 companies in forty-six nations from its headquarters in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Centerville, Virginia. Members are involved in specialized transportation, industrial maintenance, machinery moving and erecting, manufacturing, rentals, millwrighting, and crane and rigging operations. The association promotes the industry on behalf of members and the industry to foster business environments that are profitable and safe.
The association operates with a dozen highly-dedicated, full-time staff including administrative and support positions, meetings and events workers, and accounting and finance personnel. Some employees have been with the association for twenty-five years.
Prior to joining the SC&RA, Chief Executive Officer Joel Dandrea spent fifteen years with the American Trucking Associations – the biggest national trade association for the trucking industry – in key roles, including legislation, regulatory policy, membership, and marketing. He then joined the SC&RA, where he has served for the past sixteen years as chief executive officer.
Dandrea is delighted of the association’s many accomplishments. As well as increasing its membership, the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association has a strong focus on retaining existing members. From 2017 to 2018, the SC&RA retained an impressive ninety-two percent of members, despite a number of mergers and acquisitions in the industry over the past five years. Large and mid-sized companies have been acquiring others and having some impact on overall numbers.
“In the association world, if you can retain over eighty-eight percent of your members from one year going into the next, you’re in the top ten percent,” states Dandrea. “It certainly is a number that we focus on every year in addition to growth.”
The association was formed in 1948 and is celebrating its milestone anniversary. At the meeting earlier this year for all its board and committee members and again at the annual conference, the association made some special recognitions of its original founding members.
“We’ve tried to recognize the anniversary and certainly respect the history and traditions that have been established over seventy years, along with our many volunteer leaders and lots of active members,” says Dandrea. “It is recognition of our appreciation for all of our members and their support and something to help members recognize seventy years of excellence.”
For long-time and new members alike, the benefits of membership in the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association are numerous. These range from free advertising in the SC&RA membership directory to education, training, magazines, activism, discounts on guides, manuals and training videos, news, and affinity programs.
Members can keep up with industry changes through KHL Group’s independently produced monthly magazines American Cranes & Transport and International Cranes and Specialized Transport as well as top stories delivered electronically. International Cranes and Specialized Transport goes to about 46,000 companies around the world, and American Cranes & Transport is distributed to 16,000 companies in North America. Both magazines are online and later printed in hard copy.
Some of the greatest advantages are the many networking opportunities that being part of the SC&RA offers. Members can meet with colleagues and peers from around the world and can take advantage of business development opportunities, education, and much more.
“In addition to our four major live events each year, we do webinars and also produce educational publications, training materials, and our webinar series,” states Dandrea. “So networking, business development, and education are really the primary benefits, in addition to the fundamentals.”
The SC&RA is committed to being the voice of the industry for the betterment of both the industry and its members who attend events, exchange ideas, and learn what their peers and colleagues are doing to handle issues, as well as the latest best practices and news about equipment.
“It’s an environment where even competitors, frankly, freely exchange a lot of information that helps push our industry forward. So it’s cohesive,” says Dandrea. “In the big picture of construction, it’s a very strong niche.”
It works with regulators and legislative bodies at both the state and federal level to help ensure fair and reasonable regulations and laws for its members. The SC&RA is also involved in coalition work with other organizations both within transportation and construction.
“We advocate for the specialized transportation, crane, rigging and millwrighting industries and work hard to lessen the burden of regulations that ultimately create more risk and cost and lost time for member companies,” Dandrea says. “Leveraging our relationships and working tirelessly on issues affecting our members, we’ve been able to win an exemption for hours of service (30-minute mandatory break) and eliminate aspects of the cranes and derricks standard, which translate into a significant savings for our members.”
In addition, SC&RA has launched an ambitious initiative called Uniform Permit Transport 2021 (UPT2021) which aims to harmonize oversize/overweight permit weight allowances across the 50 states.
The association attends, participates, and speaks at industry meetings and events and is a part of large construction and transportation tradeshows and exhibit programs. “We promote the brand on a very regular and ongoing basis,” comments Dandrea. “And, quite frankly, some of our best exposure comes from word-of-mouth from existing members. We get a lot of referrals, and members help recruit other members in, and that’s where some of our strongest members have come from over the years.”
During the course of the year, the SC&RA holds several events, educational programs, webinars and more. These include board and committee meetings every January, a transportation symposium in late February or early March, the annual conference in April, and a crane and rigging workshop every September.
In addition, the association will host one-off events on important topics, such as a financial and management risk forum, an international tower crane conference recently held in Miami. Its monthly webinars are free to members, while non-members pay a fee. Depending on the topic, the webinars usually draw between thirty-five and seventy attendees.
Like many industries, crane, rigging, and specialized transport is facing a skills gap. One of the association’s growing educational initiatives is Lift & Move USA, a program created in 2015 to address workplace shortages and increase the awareness of opportunities in the industry for skilled labor, such as crane operators, truck drivers, welders, and mechanics.
“We started the program, and it has grown each year,” says Dandrea. “We do four events a year, and we hold them in member facilities, whereby we go in and set up cranes and trucks and other types of specialized lifting gear like gantries. We set-up and invite high school students on location, and we will invite high school and vocational schools to learn more about our industry, what the opportunities are, what the earning wages and scales are, and essentially how they can get involved in the industry.”
Lift & Move USA is very successful, drawing about 800 high school and college students and veterans to some events. It provides all the necessary information and contacts necessary to pursue a job in this exciting field. Members are encouraged to participate in their immediate area and reach out to high schools and students who are not college-bound, so they can learn more about the industry and its tremendous earning potential.
“It is amazing to watch five hundred to eight hundred kids come in and watch videos, and they see demonstrations of a crane lift or a crane pick or see a pick and lift and learn more about it. It has been a tremendously successful program.”
Lift & Move USA is run by KHL Group, the SC&RA, the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), and the SC&R Foundation to promote careers in the industry. Tracy Bennett, who has been involved in the crane industry for more than two decades, took over as the director of the Lift & Move USA careers program last December.
Other initiatives of the SC&RA include a leadership forum for younger people in the industry to help them engage in volunteer roles within the association. “They may know about the association, but haven’t yet leveraged the opportunities to be more effective within their own companies and to become more active within leadership positions in the association, all ultimately to help push the industry forward,” states Dandrea.
The SC&RA states the importance of infrastructure is enormous for everyone in the industry. Unfortunately, calls for trillions of dollars in much-needed infrastructure spending have not resulted in action.
“When you put that kind of money into an infrastructure bill, it means jobs, equipment sales, and less congestion for the trucking side,” says Dandrea. “It means the U.S. is more globally-competitive because we are operating within a better infrastructure. So we are huge proponents of infrastructure spending, for all the right reasons.”
There are so many aging roads, bridges, and other infrastructure across America that urgently require repair or replacement. The SC&RA believes investing in infrastructure will help its members and the common motorist alike, making travel easier, more efficient, and safer.
“By all means, it certainly provides a strong business opportunity for our members, whether they are in trucking, hauling materials like concrete and steel that go into infrastructure jobs, or the crane and rigging companies that are executing the work, right back to the sales of all the heavy cranes and trucks and other equipment to facilitate growth.”
After serving the industry for seventy years, the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association looks forward to the future, working with existing members, and welcoming new ones.
“If you’re in the industry, the message is, ‘get involved,’ says CEO Dandrea. “The SC&RA provides an absolutely exceptional platform for individuals and companies in the industry to network, to learn, to help improve their company’s safety, efficiency, and profitability, and that’s what we are all about.”