TAMPA, FL – Imagine yourself on a jobsite during the ’70 as a Volkswagen van, now vintage to contemporary nostalgia, pulls up to the site, it’s outside decorated with all the fanfare of laughter that would naturally follow the clown in the driver seat. If you worked on this job, you already knew that “Bobo” the clown was also a great crane operator, but standing 6’3″ this man was no laughing matter when it came to cranes. Over his 35 year ongoing career in the crane and rigging industry, Bob Berry has become an industry leader as a practical examiner and an icon for crane safety. Now at 59 years old, Bob reflects back on the memories and experiences that have contributed to a successful career.
Bob Berry began his IUOE apprenticeship with local 925 in Tampa, FL in 1972, graduating at the top of his class. He spent 10 years as an operator and 3 as a foreman at the Four Corners Mine operated by Mosaic Fertilizer, a role which boosted Bob into management, organizing a crew of 96 operators and 53 cranes plus miscellaneous equipment. His career took a turn when he became a crane safety specialist, an identity which has grown and evolved over 20 years in the safety field. In 1996, Bob Berry pursued involvement in the NCCCO operator certification program and became the first practical examiner in U.S. for NCCCO.
When asked what bring the him the most gratification throughout his career, as an NCCCO and apprenticeship trainer Bob commented that he enjoyed his opportunity to “pay forward his experiences” as a tribute to all those that helped him along the way. He regards guiding 65 students through an NCCCO course with a 98% passing rate as his greatest achievement. Bob admits that the most challenging part of preparing students is teaching enough information before the student ever touches a crane, and his success lives out in the achievement and success of the operators he trains.
Only a great performer could accomplish the juggling act between Mr. Berry’s outstanding professional career and longstanding personal devotion to serving the community. During his 10 year side career as “Bobo the Clown,” Bob made regular trips to local hospitals to perform for the children, and participated in organizing events for the Special Olympics. He also served as President of the Society of American Magicians, rides motorcycles and enjoys baking.
With the future ahead, Mr. Berry has recently joined the team at Sims Crane & Equipment Co. located in Tampa, FL as the Safety Director for the organization. As crane and rigging standards become more focused on rigging and signalman certification, the Sims Crane team, with Bob at the safety helm aims to set a standard in providing basic rigging and signalman courses throughout the organization, and as a resource for construction industry partners.