And the Award Goes to...

Lifetime Achievement: (Video)
The ACPA Lifetime Achievement Award is reserved for those individuals whose careers have not only fostered and advanced the concrete pumping industry, but who have also faithfully served, contributing limitless time, energy, knowledge and passion to ensure the success of the association and the industry as a whole. This year’s award was presented to Robert Edwards of NBIS.

Rob entered the concrete pumping industry in 1978, becoming a concrete pump operator for E-Con Placer of Minnesota. Although he was an operator for only a short time, he considers those years vital basic training to what has become his life’s work. He believes he couldn’t possibly receive this award without those experiences.

In 1980, he went to work for Schwing America in the subassembly department, working on outriggers, hoppers, hydraulic tanks and control panels. From there, he moved to the trailer pump department, assembling everything from the sub-frames to the finished machine. After a short time, he transitioned to the testing department, and was tasked with setting the parameters of the various components of finished machines, then testing the machines for function, completeness and quality.

One day, he clumsily fell off a machine in the testing department and broke his hand. During recovery, he sat in the service department and answered customer questions, helped troubleshoot machines in the field, and updated and presented the Schwing service school to customers’ service personnel. It turned out he had a knack for the work of the service department and never did go back to testing. Four years later, he was named service manager of Schwing America, managing the department budgets and expenses, the men and their travel schedules (including the wrath of their wives), and issues with the machines—all simultaneously. Within a couple of years, it became clear that job was two-fold and needed to be split: either men or machines. Rob chose machines and became the quality assurance coordinator. This job included research and development, the global solving of machine issues with U.S. customers, and the factories in the U.S., Germany and Brazil.

By now it was the early 90s and product safety was taking a much more prominent position within corporate manufacturing. Rob’s boss, Tom Anderson, assigned him the job of writing a safety manual. “Include information about every accident we’ve ever had, ever heard about, ever heard our competitors having, every close call—in short, try to find out every conceivable way people could possibly get hurt doing this work, and see if we can stop it before it happens.” The result is now known as the ACPA Safety Manual.

From there, Rob was assigned the duty of starting a product safety department at Schwing America and named manager. After three years, the publications department was added to Rob’s responsibilities.

In 2007, Rob left Schwing to take the position of director of product safety and development for Alliance Concrete Pumps in Vancouver, British Columbia. He handled risk assessments, all operation manuals, all product safety decisions, and all warning labels, until the recession caused him to seek other employment in 2010. Since 2010, Rob has been the manager of the concrete pumping line of business for Nations Builders Insurance Services.

Rob has been active with the ACPA since 1994. He created and developed the first operator training seminar, then presented the seminar with Les Ainsworth. For the next 20 years, Rob, Les, Mike Cusack, Dan Mace and a few others have delivered this standardized training to countless operators in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Because of the wide acceptance of the Safety Manual and the Operator Safety Seminars, Rob developed the titled DVDs Co- Worker Safety Training and Safety Training for Ready Mixed Drivers Delivering to Concrete Pumps; and co-wrote the scripts and acted as the technical advisor for each of the ACPA videos from 2002 through today.

Rob has served on the certification, internet, equipment safety and workforce development committees of the ACPA since 1998. Rob was presented with the ACPA’s Pioneer Award in 2004.

Rob conducted tests and wrote reports on the effectiveness of the proximity warning devices manufactured by Sigalarm and Made, SA. He has written several articles on concrete pumping safety published in the Concrete Pumping magazine, and on

Rob served as the chair of the ASME subcommittee that developed the American national standard for concrete pumping safety, ASME B30.27, and serves on the ASME main committee B30. He is a member of the CSA Z151 committee for concrete pump safety in Canada, and is a member of the American Society of Concrete Contractors Safety Council.

Rob writes and composes his own music and was the lead singer and bass player in a part-time band for over 40 years. Rob recently became a grandfather, and lives in the St. Paul, Minnesota, area with his wife, Lucinda.

Operator of the Year: (Video)
Each year, the ACPA selects one operator as recipient of the Operator of the Year Award based on the nomination letters submitted from the operator’s employer. An operator’s safety record, exemplary performance, and ability to demonstrate a higher level of professionalism are some of the criteria used in the selection process. Although there were many worthy candidates this year, one operator in particular stood out—Kevin Cook of Champion Concrete located in Hauser, Idaho.

Kevin Cook is not just an ordinary outstanding pump operator. Rather, “He’s a concrete pump operator extraordinaire,” says his employer, LeeRoy Thompson of Champion Concrete Pumping located in Hauser, Idaho.

Kevin began his career in concrete pumping in 1994 and after obtaining the required amount of experience time, attained ACPA operator certification. He has maintained current certification ever since.

On any given day, Kevin may be operating one, or any combination of several different concrete pumps in Champion’s fleet, from their line pumps to the company’s various boom pumps, ranging in size from 17 meters all the way up to the 61 meter.

Kevin performs on all types of concrete construction jobs: small residential, such as standard footing and wall pours; critical long-reach pours; and more complex commercial pours that require the use of placing booms. Kevin also shoots shotcrete, does bank stabilization and void fills, as well as slab jacks. He enjoys the variety and challenges of something new each day and he often travels hundreds of miles in a single day, performing jobs throughout Idaho, Washington and Montana. His “office” exists mainly in the cab of his truck. Kevin makes it his priority to be available and a part of every pour. He’s involved in every aspect of pumping the job, from the pre-pour planning meetings to final completion of the job. His expertise and experience allow him to make important safety decisions or to recommend ways to increase job site efficiency, saving the company and his customers valuable time and money. In fact, his input is so valued by contractors and ready mix suppliers, that whenever they have a question or problem, Kevin is their “go to” guy.

When he’s not on the job, Kevin starts his day in the dispatch office, fielding calls from customers and making sure each operator gets on the road equipped to tackle his day safely and successfully. Wearing many hats, Kevin is the mechanic’s right-hand man, helping out both in the shop and in the field. He also handles new hire interviews and training, and has been in charge of the company’s safety program since 2004, holding monthly safety meetings while constantly looking for ways to improve job site safety. Kevin has a flawless safety record, and he is always open and friendly with his fellow employees, sharing ideas and encouraging them to share their experiences so everyone can benefit. It’s his responsibility to ensure all of Champion’s operators remain current with their ACPA certification.

Not only is Kevin a role model for other operators, but at Champion he’s considered the “superhero” of their pumping world, a valued employee that exemplifies a dedication above and beyond the scope of his job.

Kevin is married to Megan, and they have one son, Ty. He’s an avid outdoorsman, so when he’s not at Champion, enjoys hunting, fishing and just spending time with family. Operator of the Year recipients receive roundtrip airfare, courtesy of Construction Forms, Inc.; hotel accommodations for two, courtesy of Schwing America, Inc.; and $500 in spending money donated every year by Putzmeister America, Inc.

The ACPA would like to also acknowledge the following nominees:

Jason Almeida—Almeida Concrete Pumping, Forest Hills, New York

Brent Douglas—Burbidge Concrete Pumping, Salt Lake City, Utah

Thomas Duymich—Merli Concrete Pumping & Conveying, Vista, California

Brad Haug—Meyer Concrete Placement & Conveyor Service LLC, Libertyville, Illinois

Joseph Licausi—JPL Concrete Construction Corporation, Medford, New York

Gregory Maus—Cemstone Products Company, Mendota Heights, Minnesota

Adam Moore—Premier Concrete Pumping, Orangeville, Ontario, Canada

William Rolleman—Challenge Concrete Pumping, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Mike Sadler—Ramcrete, Inc., Hamilton, Ohio

Carl Sehestedt—Elsea Construction Services, LLC, Hanover, Pennsylvania

Robert Thompson—Advanced Pumping, LLC, Corpus Christi, Texas

ACPA Pioneer Awards:
Three ACPA Pioneer Awards were presented this year to those individuals whose contributions have helped foster and advance the concrete pumping industry. Each of them are a testament to the hard work, sacrifices and commitment required in the early days of concrete pumping that got us where we are today. These outstanding individuals’ dedication and willingness to share their ideas and knowledge, have all contributed towards enhancing the quality of our industry.

Richard (Dick) Cross: 1937—2009 (Video)
Richard Cross, born and raised in Michigan, came from a large family and learned at an early age that hard work was the key towards getting what you wanted out of life. So, he quit school, got a job at a fruit market, and by the time he was 18, he was a manager, married and had one child. Always ambitious, he went on to work for himself as a door-to-door salesman for various companies.

In the 1970s, the door-to-door sales model was starting to fizzle out and he had the opportunity to work with concrete pumps. As we all know, once you’re introduced to pumping, it gets in your blood and stays there. By the 1980s, he was ready to open his own pumping company, Ace Concrete Pumping. With the help of Dennis Andrews, he obtained his first used concrete pump. His daughter, Donna, ran the office while Richard ran the operations and many times, a concrete pump. He had a lot of contacts in the construction industry so getting work was not hard, but caused him to work a lot of weekends and holidays.

As the business grew, he added more pumps into his fleet: a 28-meter Schwing and a couple of 28-meter Whitemans, as well as Whiteman trailer pumps and a prototype of a 36-meter Reinert. Since most of these pumps were used, many long hours were spent working to keep them up and running. He had a lot of help and support along the way from his good friends at Hite Concrete Pumping, Bill and Bob Drake of Hydracrete Pumping in Cleveland, as well as a faithful and loyal operator, Larrie “Doc” Mobley, who stuck with Richard through thick and thin.

Ace pumped concrete on many of Michigan’s high-profile construction projects such as the Pontiac Silverdome, the Detroit Renaissance Center, the Ambassador Bridge and several commercial high rises. The “big” jobs back then were in the auto plants during their shutdown time, as well as work at the proving grounds. And there was always work at the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan, along with pumping residential walls and residential sea walls.

In the late 1990s, Richard was one of the first to venture into the mudjacking side of pumping, raising slabs and reinforcing foundations. He designed and engineered the trucks so they would be self-contained. This venture turned out to be quite successful and his youngest son, Randy, joined the business and continues to operate it today.

With business good and his kids managing the day-to-day operations, Richard began enjoying his “golden years” by traveling to Florida for the winters and fulfilling his lifelong dream of owning a farm in the country. He met his new wife, Sandy, and got back into his love of working on old cars. Time off was sounding better and better, so he decided it was time to sell his concrete pumping business. It was purchased by Pumpco.

In 2004, Richard was diagnosed with MDS. He spent the next five years of his life still traveling to Florida when his health allowed, but his greatest thrill was spending time with his family: holiday dinners at the farm; hayrides in the fall; keeping the four-wheelers running for the grandkids; and barbeques in the summer.

Sadly, Richard passed away on November 11, 2009. His customers will remember him for the smile he always had on his face and for going the extra mile for them, but many will remember him for his passion and most importantly, the love he had for his family.

Richard and Sandy combined have six children and nine grandchildren.

Don Matthews (Video)
In Don’s 43 years in the business, he has been an operator, mechanic, owner, fleet manager and factory representative. He has worked all up and down the East Coast, on projects including the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant; Washington, D.C. METRO; Atlanta MARTA; and Disney’s EPCOT Center. He can’t even guess how many operators he has trained over the years.

After what he calls “a few misspent” years as a firefighter, Don started in 1971 operating concrete pumps in Vermont. At the time, he was working for his wife’s family business, which was marine construction of docks and piers. They had an old Thomsen 600 in the yard, which was never used. As Don puts it, “One day they got the bright idea to use the pump to place concrete decks on some docks and they asked me if I could run it, so I agreed to give it a try. I found out the operating part was easy, but getting concrete out the end was real tricky.”

Don says, “Looking back, I don’t know why I stayed with it. Crushed granite, manufactured sand mixes were awful. You hit the reversing lever so often, your palms were raw. Many a day was spent standing in a pile of concrete, knocking off and cleaning flapper box elbows, over and over again.”

They landed some heavier commercial work, and added two new Thomsen HP‐747 pumps to what was then known as Pump Co. These pumps were much stronger, and the five-inch booms were among the first to handle Vermont bridge and highway mixes. Life as an operator got a bit easier.

Don is now in his 18th year at Putzmeister America, Inc. As a customer support manager, he continues to apply his experience to the trade. When asked about retirement, he says, “As long as I can do the work, I’ll do it. I’d rather share what I know than stay home. Besides, it’s still fun.”

Don is not the only Matthews contributing to the industry, and he would like to acknowledge his brother, Dean, who also worked for Thomsen and then later held the position of southeast regional sales manager, as well as having served as eastern service manager for Putzmeister. Eventually Dean came off the road and worked for Pat Inglese at Pioneer Concrete Pumping, Atlanta, Georgia before passing away in 2002.

Don and his wife, Chris, have been married for 15 years and have a combined family of three sons, one daughter, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Don has retired all but one of his hobbies; he has been a competition target rifle shooter since the age of 12. And since Chris is an avid horse lover, raising Arabian and miniature horses, they own a small farm just large enough for the horses and enough to support their small hay business.

Gary Schmidt: 1954—2012 (Video)
Gary Schmidt served over 35 years in the concrete pumping industry and was a second generation concrete pumper proudly following in the footsteps of his father, Joe Schmidt, another ACPA Pioneer Award recipient.

Gary had a natural love for taking apart and reassembling engines. In the mid-1970s, with the help of his father, he purchased and rebuilt his first Thomsen pump. This prompted Gary to establish his own concrete pumping business, Gary’s Concrete Pumping, which would buy used Thomsen equipment, fully rebuild the units and then operate them in his business. With his keen mechanical mind and entrepreneurial spirit, Gary’s Concrete Pumping went on to become Rio Sierra, Inc., a worldwide consulting company for concrete pump repair and operation. The challenging times of the 1980s led Gary to his new venture of handling technical service for Reed Concrete Pumps, which required extensive traveling. In 1997, Gary joined Putzmeister as the company’s western regional sales manager. Gary’s strong work ethic, hands-on experience and understanding of service and maintenance proved invaluable as he offered many ingenious solutions to difficult concrete placing challenges and provided common sense input for product improvements. His integrity and professionalism earned him enormous respect amongst his customers, colleagues and all those who knew him.

Gary’s heart was enormous and he gave generously of his time, sharing his knowledge to help others. Following Japan’s earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2011, Gary volunteered to accompany Putzmeister’s 72-meter concrete pump to Japan and assist with the training and setup of using the unit to pump water for cooling nuclear reactors.

Gary passed away on November 9, 2012 after a year-long battle with lung cancer. He was married to his high school sweetheart, Sally, for almost 40 years and together they have one daughter, Dawn Brookshire. Just weeks before Gary died, he and Sally were blessed with the birth of their first grandchild, Caleb.

Gary’s legacy will continue not only in the lives of all those he touched, but also in helping others through the Gary Schmidt Lung Cancer Research Fund, which to date has donated over $100,000 towards cancer research and awareness to the University of Southern California’s Norris Cancer Center.