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Trainers Take Home Top Awards at 2016 ACRP General Assembly

Top Trainer Awards






May 24, 2017 - Earlier this month at the Association of Crane & Rigging Professionals' General Assembly in Tulalip, Wash., two elite training professionals were recognized with Top Trainer Awards for their abilities to mentor and connect with students entering the crane and rigging industries. Ralf Notheis, manager – Crane Academy, Bigfoot Crane Co. Inc., Abbotsford, British Columbia, received the 2016 Corporate Top Trainer award, and Matt Schmitt, instructor, Overton Safety Training Inc., Aloha, Ore., was recognized as the 2016 Professional Top Trainer. At the assembly, Patrick Clark of Lifting Gear Hire, the Platinum Sponsor for the 2016 awards, presented the trophies to the winners.


“Although safety people's work is not often visible on the jobsite, they work behind the scenes to reinforce improvements in crane operation and rigging,” said Mike Larson, editor of Crane Hot Line. “Their diligence to provide quality training and build exceptional field personnel is the reason they are recognized through the annual Top Trainer Awards.”


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Ralf Notheis - 2016 Corporate Top Trainer


As the Corporate Top Trainer, Notheis represents a number of trainers who work for suppliers, dealers, contractors, or rental companies, and provide crane and rigging training to their customers and/or employees. With more than two decades of experience in the heavy equipment industry, he has the knowledge and personality to take a complicated subject and relate it to a group of trainees, no matter what course they are studying. His background, which includes positions at Canada’s largest crane rental companies, has given him the practical experience and technical expertise that are highly sought after in crane and rigging training.


“Ralf understands that not everyone learns the same way or comprehends the material at the same pace, so by applying different training methods for different people, he can still achieve the same results in the same time frame,” says Gerry Wiebe, director of business development for Bigfoot Crane Co. “This ability to adapt is what truly sets him apart from other trainers that I have worked with.”


Notheis creates his own teaching materials using real-life scenarios to make the material relevant. “Once a student uses what they have learned to solve creative real-life problems just like what they will face on a jobsite, their interest level goes through the roof, and they feel more competent and eager to attack the next challenge,” he says. “This style of learning is preparing our operators to say yes when everyone else says no because they have found the correct solution, and say no when everyone else says yes because they have identified the hazards that no one else could.”


His theory content covers everything from correct maintenance procedures to always being early so that mistakes are not made while rushing to make up lost time. To date, not one of Notheis’s students has been involved in a serious incident.


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Matt Schmitt - 2016 Professional Top Trainer


Professional Top Trainers like Schmitt work for companies that are primarily engaged in training activities. Communicating a complex technical subject in a simplified manner has gotten Schmitt far in his training career. A former student said Schmitt is “an excellent Instructor who teaches the material in our terms in ways that we understand it, not just words from a book." Another said that he is straight-forward in his instruction. “His knowledge of the information and ability to keep us focused on the material with humor and timely examples has helped me immensely," he added


His familiarity of technical lifting combined with his unique style of teaching has enabled him to bring clarity to a group of students who may not have passed a difficult certification process without expert instruction. Last year, Schmitt helped a group of crane operators who must comply with Chicago city rules and regulations. Many students have a primary language other than English, and their background is in material delivery with limited education on other types of equipment. Using some of Overton Safety Training’s base materials, Matt worked with the operators to develop a training program that improved their previous training and testing by more than 200%.


About the Top Trainer Award Program

Endorsed by the ACRP, the Ninth Annual Training Excellence Awards honor those who demonstrate passion for improving the crane and rigging industries through proper training. The 2016 Awards were supported by the following sponsors:

Platinum Sponsor: Lifting Gear Hire

Gold Sponsors: Rigging Institute and Slingmax Rigging Solutions

Silver Sponsors: Altec SentryCrane Inspection & Certification Bureau (CICB)TerexMazzella Companies, and Morrow

Bronze Sponsors: Stephenson Equipment Inc. and the American International Crane Bureau (AICB)


ACRP provided a complimentary registration to its 2017 General Assembly to the two Top Trainers. The winners also received scholarships made possible through donations by the sponsors. Scholarships may be used by the recipient for continuing education or donated to a student entering the crane and rigging industries.


For more information on the awards, or to submit a nomination for 2017, visit


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