In the aftermath of World War II, industries across the United States benefitted from a national identity born from rolling up sleeves and getting the job done.
It was within this setting that movers and lifters of all shapes, sizes and capabilities began to take the country into a new era. The Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association was formed in 1947 as a segment of the Local Cartage National Conference (LCNC) of the American Trucking Associations (ATA). And in 1948, as laws and regulations specifically affecting the transport of specialized loads started to change, the Heavy Haulers, Machinery Movers and Erectors Section of the LCNC – the harbinger of today’s SC&RA – came into existence.
The new Heavy-Specialized Conference of the ATA held its first official meeting on December 6, 1948, with 75 people in attendance. The Conference continued to grow – attaining membership of 300 companies by 1968. In 1981, the name “Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association” was officially adopted. By 1995, SC&RA boasted more than 800 members.
Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, SC&RA has only improved upon its mission: to advocate, educate and provide networking opportunities to support the moving and lifting industries in operating safely, legally and profitably around the world.
A productive look back
The 1950s saw impressive growth around the nation combined with frustrating taxes levied against all carriers. With automobile traffic and expansion on the rise, infrastructure was needed to accommodate more people, more jobs, more parking and, well, more industry.
In 1956, Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act – effectively launching the “long-haul” carrier business. On the lifting side, a 132-ton crane was developed late in the decade, as well as the debut of the first hydraulic crane in 1959.
In the 1960s, specialized transportation progressed alongside the need to haul both cutting-edge and ominous new hardware – built in response to the U.S./Soviet space race, as well as the ever-present Cold War.
The construction industry also required larger and heavier spans of steel and concrete. By 1963, 100-ton cranes were no longer unheard of on jobsites, and hydraulic cranes had begun to make a move in the marketplace.
On the leadership front, Allan Shirley was named manager of the Heavy-Specialized Carriers Conference, replacing Frank Floyd.
The 1970s saw the U.S. gripped by economic, political and energy discord. The ripple effect of the energy crisis, especially, had a negative impact on the construction and transport sectors. However, the Heavy-Specialized Carriers Conference continued to grow.
Despite its setbacks, the seventies also celebrated the completion of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Sears Tower in Chicago. And in 1979, Gene Brymer took the helm as Executive Vice President of what would become the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association just two years later, and lead the organization for 22 years.
The 1980s marked a period when Association members faced perhaps their stiffest challenges, but also a span when SC&RA realized its full promise.
As a result of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, a groundswell of unity emerged within the Conference, resulting in the aforementioned name change in 1981. Modern goals were set, including the development of the SC&R Foundation in 1983. Additionally, 1984 served as a year in which SC&RA developed multiple programs designed to help members cultivate and maintain successful businesses.
In 1990, SC&RA launched the Crane Operator Certification Project – to establish an operator classification system and review existing credential programs. Safety also became a critical issue in the nineties, with the establishment of the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) in 1995.
SC&RA membership topped 700 in 1993 – the same year the Association moved its headquarters to Fairfax, VA. The 1993 annual report indicated that nearly 55 percent of the membership had joined within the last five years. By 1996, membership had eclipsed 800.
While the early 2000s was marked by 9/11, the transportation industry was still trying to dig out from a litany of industry challenges spilling over from the previous decade. As a result, SC&RA’s Transportation Group joined forces with other industry groups to make sure their voices were heard in the offices of regulators, commissions and politicians.
In 2001, Joel Dandrea was named Executive Vice President of SC&RA – overseeing a prolific phase of growth and expansion within construction and transport alike. Dandrea continues to move the interests of SC&RA members strategically forward while also contributing to the steady advancement of the industry – and along the way, has earned the title of Chief Executive Officer.
“SC&RA’s commitment to its mission, as well as its members, has had a productive impact on its ability to evolve and address the challenges within the new millennium,” he noted. “And it simply wouldn’t be possible without the contributions of the board, the groups and group chairs, the committees, and various member volunteers and Association staff who’ve all helped to push progress and advance a seventy-year legacy.”
SC&RA saw enhancements in digital technology define the first ten years of the 2000s. Under Dandrea, improving communication tools has become a primary focus. Nothing represented the Association’s commitment to that purpose more than the establishment of American Cranes & Transport (ACT) in 2005.
Additionally, membership numbers rose to more than 1,200 across 46 nations in 2006, and the SC&R Foundation tipped the $175,000 mark in scholarships awarded since its inception.
SC&RA also proudly celebrated “60 Years of Progress” in 2008, with membership surpassing the 1,300 mark.
Advocacy was a consistent theme in 2011 – marked by SC&RA’s expanded role in representing members before other federal agencies. Additionally, a major milestone for the year was SC&RA’s celebration of 15 years with NBIS (NationsBuilders Insurance Services, Inc.).
In 2013, SC&RA continued its active role within ICSA (International Crane Stakeholders Assembly), and participated in Bauma (Munich), the International Tower Cranes Conference (Berlin) and the World Crane and Transport Summit (Amsterdam).
In 2015, SC&RA celebrated a huge advocacy victory with the passing of the 2015 Appropriations Bill by Congress. Also that year, SC&RA, KHL Group and the NCCCO hosted the first of many subsequent career promotion events, titled Lift & Move USA – a first-of-its-kind endeavor designed to promote careers in the U.S. crane, rigging and specialized transport industries, and to help employers find the next generation of workers.
In 2016, SC&RA enjoyed a proliferation of permit technology, as well as the signing of the Operating Engineers Agreement with the International Union of Operating Engineers.
And despite the complexities of the times – regulatory challenges, natural disasters, worker shortages, automation – the Association and its members continued to adapt and evolve in 2017 in an effort to advance the modern world safely, efficiently and profitably.
In 2017, the Association completed four key initiatives with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). SC&RA also served as amicus curiae in support of Sims Crane’s appeal vs. MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration), supporting the industry’s position that a spreader bar is not “part of the load.” And true to its mission, the Association continued to educate its members on the ELD (electronic logging device) compliance date through December.
Celebrating 70 years in 2018, SC&RA continues to represent a growing membership of more than 1,350 in 46 nations.
The SC&R Foundation continues to fund industry-specific research projects and is known for its grant and scholarship program, which awards $45,000–$60,000 annually. In the years and decades ahead, SC&RA will add to its rich history by continuing to endeavor on behalf of its valued members as they go about the transformative business of lifting and moving the world.