Annie Tooley

Jacob Romano

Apprentice crane operator, rigger/oiler, heavy haul driver

I grew up like most kids in our trade, a sandbox full of Tonka trucks, dirt bikes, and a dad who could take apart almost anything with a screwdriver and an adjustable wrench. ⁣

All through middle school and high school, I knew I wanted to be some kind of engineer, I just didn’t know I’d land as an operating engineer. ⁣

I wasn’t a bad student in school by any means, I was an A- type of guy my whole school career, but I knew college wasn’t gonna be for me. ⁣

So like a handful of my other classmates, I turned to the trades. ⁣

I got my first “industry” job with A&A Crane and Rigging out of high school. ⁣

I was a blank page, ready to learn, and the crew there became my family for the next two years... They still are to this day, even after leaving the company. ⁣

I walked in as a kid fresh out of high school, and I left knowing the basics of crane operation. ⁣

But there was only so much I could do at A&A without a crane license, and the owner, John, knew this as well. ⁣

In June of 2019, he told me to take the apprentice application test with the local operating engineers union, IUOE local 478. ⁣

This is where the next very important step of my career began. ⁣

I entered my apprenticeship in May 2020, knowing absolutely nothing of the dirt world. ⁣

I could run circles around my classmates on a forklift or a crane, but I looked like a newborn in a dozer or excavator. ⁣

But that’s the great thing about being an apprentice, I get to learn and refine my skills both on a job site and at the training facility. ⁣

I know everyone has their likes and dislikes of unions and whatnot, but personally, in these three short years, I’ve had so many unique experiences running equipment. ⁣

I look back, and joining the operating engineers was probably the easiest decision I’ve ever made. ⁣

I've dug trenches on a mini excavator no larger than your office chair in the hallways of a high school, I've pushed piles of defective bullets from world war 2 in a D6 dozer, and I've built some of the most expensive houses in the country...⁣

But I’ve only just started my journey, and I couldn’t be more excited to continue it.

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