Operator Urged to Compete in South Central Crane Operator Rodeo by 2011 Winner

crane operator rodeo
sany rt crane
Yeti Tundra 45 cooler

Winner of the South Central Regional Qualifying Rodeo, held in Houston, Texas this month, was talked into participating by the man who won last year’s event. John Blankenship, a crane operator with Deep South Crane & Rigging in the Houston area, was awarded a 9.4-gallon Yeti Tundra 45 cooler by Webber Construction, who hosted the regional MCM Events' Crane Operator Rodeo. Placing second in the contest was Joe Cowen III, an operator with Alliance Crane. Both operators go on to the finals in Orlando, Fla., next month.


“My buddy won the event last year in Vegas,” said Blankenship, who is used to running a 265-ton Liebherr mobile crane for Deep South. “He called me and said he couldn’t make it this year, but he told me to come try it out.” Cowen was presented with a Grove crane model. Because they recorded the best time in the cab of a 65-ton Sany SRC 865 XL rough-terrain crane, Blankenship and Cowen will go on to compete in the 2012 National Championship, Oct. 27-28 at the Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers’ facility in Davenport, Fla.


The Sany RT crane, equipped with 140 feet of boom, was provided by Four Seasons Equipment Rental, whichalso provided the rodeo location in Houston. The crane has been in Four Seasons’ fleet since April. The sling used in the competition was provided by Bishop Lifting, also of Houston.


Cowen, who also was the first competitor of the day, said he usually operates a 60-ton Terex truck crane and has never competed in a crane rodeo. “I thought I’d give it a try,” he said. After going through his paces, Cowen reported operating the crane in this type of situation was “not bad.” In all, 12 contestants fought overcast skies, drizzle, and Texas winds for the chance at an all-expenses paid trip to the National Championship. Contestant Frederick Haywood, of Texas Sterling RDI, left work on an ongoing drilling project in Houston to compete. “I’ve done foundation drilling for 17 years, and run cranes for 12 years. It was as hard as I expected it to be,” he said after emerging from the crane cab. “It was a learning experience.”


Tim Hoff, Regional manager – cranes for Sany America Inc., Peachtree City, Ga., was in attendance and reported he was “very pleased to be providing the crane for this rodeo. We hope to work more with this type of event in the future.” Hoff said one advantageous aspect of the event was it gave “the operators a chance to try out new technology.”


The 2012 Crane Operator Rodeo is presented by MCM Events and Event Partner Crane Institute Certification.