SC&RA names newest “4 Under 40” class
By Mike Chalmers01 August 2023
It goes without saying that SC&RA is generously stocked with leaders on every level who embody the Association’s core values and long-term mission. Each individual in a leadership role at SC&RA – from staff to member volunteers – plays an integral part in strengthening the Association while continuing to push it productively forward.
Mason Tucker General Manager, Equipment Express
Within this framework, SC&RA recognizes its next-generation leaders each year beneath the “4 Under 40” banner, and this year’s class exemplifies the experience, dedication and ambition that has powered both the Association and its respective industries for 75 years strong.
Mason Tucker, general manager at Equipment Express (Ayr, Ontario, Canada) is one of these up-and-comers. He graduated from the University of Waterloo – often referred to as “the MIT of Canada” – in 2008 with a degree in mechanical engineering, and kicked off his career as a project engineer/manager at Mammoet, before moving to Equipment Express, where he’s been for five years.
Tucker earned his professional engineer license from PEO (Professional Engineers Ontario) in 2015, and has continued to enhance his education and experience by diving into practical welding programs, project management courses, workshops and industry-specific conferences – like SC&RA’s Specialized Transportation Symposium and Crane & Rigging Workshop – as well as Breakbulk Americas.
“The early years of my career were focused on learning the technical side of the specialized carrier and rigging industry,” he acknowledged. “And now in my role as GM at Equipment Express, the subject matter is much broader. I’ve gained a working knowledge of all aspects of operating a small business, including accounting basics, estimating and sales, operations, safety and compliance, leadership skills, HR basics and how to both cultivate and maintain a positive organization-wide culture.”
A problem solver at heart, and never one to seek out recognition, he was surprised and humbled when he got the call from SC&RA notifying him of his 4 Under 40 selection. “It’s the most prestigious body in my industry, as far as I’m concerned, so this is an absolute honor,” he explained. “It motivates me to continue building relationships and driving value for our customers, employees and other partners.”
Jennifer Gabel, Owner and CEO, JK Crane
Jennifer Gabel, owner and CEO at JK Crane (Kenvil, N.J.) knows a little something about relationships, customer value and leadership. She’s architected the success of her own career, as well as that of her company’s, by maximizing the inherent power within these core tenets.
As for credentials, after graduating with a degree in finance from the RH Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland in 2005, Gabel pursued industry-specific professional trainings in: Lift Director + Site Supervisor (2016), Engineering Principles for Rigging + Load Handling (2018), Mobile Crane Operator (2019) and Forklift Safety (2022). She also completed the OSHA30 course in 2022. Additionally, within SC&RA, she currently sits on the Communications Advisory Board and serves as president of SC&RF (Specialized Carriers & Rigging Foundation) – where she served on the educational assistance committee before rotating through treasurer, vice president and her present role.
“SC&RA is an organization that has a huge impact on our industry, so to be recognized by them is a great honor,” she established. “With that in mind, health in general, but especially mental health in our industry, is of particular importance to me. The Association provides its members with invaluable resources, including educational sessions at conferences, as well as webinars – and I’ve had discussions with several SC&RA team members. They’re not only supportive of bringing this subject to members, but have already begun to do so.”
Alan Johnson, Branch Manager, NCSG Crane & Heavy Haul
Like Gabel, Alan Johnson, branch manager at NCSG Crane & Heavy Haul (Acheson, Alberta, Canada) understands the important role collaboration can play in both goal setting and problem solving.
One of Johnson’s key areas of focus is pointed at growing a youth movement. “We have to continue to innovate in this regard,” he noted. “So, one of my jobs is to attract young people to an industry that they perhaps didn’t know or think about – and help them to understand they can make a great living and carve out successful, long-term careers.”
One unique way that Johnson and NCSG are pursuing this strategy is through sponsorship of a junior football club – the Calgary Colts. “After we became corporate sponsors of the Colts, I started a hiring program out of the club to just try and attract possible candidates,” he said. “So, I’m just trying to open some doors and show them that other opportunities are there if they’re interested. It’s not so different from my story; I got an opportunity and I took advantage of it. Now as branch manager, I want to create similar opportunities for people – and build this industry along the way.”
Johnson has been with NCSG for more than a decade. In 2013, while still working as a dispatcher for NCSG Trans Tech Acheson, he completed the Leadership of Safety Excellence Course (LSE), and after being promoted to branch manager in 2017, he then completed two external courses: Construction Project Manager and First Level Supervisor Training.
An oil industry veteran with 20 years of experience, he started out as a warehouse assistant before pivoting to the transportation industry. “For a guy like me, and looking at the list of past winners, I wouldn’t have thought in a million years that I’d be selected for an award like this – it’s just so humbling,” he admitted.
Andrew Hulings, Director of Specialized Projects, OXBO Mega Transport Solutions
While Andrew Hulings, director of specialized projects at OXBO Mega Transport Solutions/OXBO Inc. (Scappoose, OR), also knows quite a bit about taking hold of opportunities, he first had to wrestle his career path from the grip of a unique challenge.
“While this industry presents many challenges to many people, my age was my biggest challenge,” he indicated. “After high school, I’d signed up to attend Eastern Oregon University and pursue electrical engineering, but I ultimately decided against it. I instead began my career with OXBO, and was running a crew at just nineteen – although I looked more like fifteen at the time.”
In time, Hulings completed coursework in the areas of Hydraulic Zoning, OSHA30, Adaption of Unified Jacking Systems, Enerpac Strand Jacks Operations, Goldhofer Platform Trailer Operations, Structural Moving Principals, Project Management Principals and even picked up his Class A CDL (Super Heavy Endorsed).
“Being judged for my age and not my skills and knowledge was an everyday occurrence,” he added. “For many years, I’d arrive at a project with my crew and the customer would ask who was in charge. They often wouldn’t believe me, and would call our office to verify. But at the end of the day, I’ve always proven that I was the right person for the job.”
Being recognized as a member of the 4 Under 40 class for 2023 serves as proof for Hulings that he had what it takes to be not just a leader, but a mentor. “I’ve worked so hard over the last twenty years, and I intend to keep this ball rolling,” he said. “I’m so extremely proud of this honor.”
Part of Huling’s ongoing passion involves working with the younger generations in an effort to bridge the all-too-familiar workforce gap within the skilled trades. “Maybe that looks like guest speaking – maybe it looks like encouraging other SC&RA members to attend local job fairs or put together scholarships for kids taking trades classes,” he said. “Or maybe we encourage companies to mentor high school seniors with a summer internship, and an opportunity to apply in the fall. I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that more can be done, and SC&RA has the passion and the people to help make a difference.”