Annie Tooley

Ralph Rich

Equipment operator

Ralph got into operating a Caterpillar 390F excavator—thanks to his grandma.

He said, “My dad did surveying, and my mom was a project manager. They had office jobs, and they never worked in the field. But when I was a kid, there was a big project going on not far from my house. My grandma would drive me there, and we’d sit in the car off the side of the road and watch the machines every day, all summer long.”

Ralph knew he wanted to work with heavy equipment, too. And he finally got his chance while working on a horse farm.

“My first job was working on a farm as a caretaker. I mowed the grass and cut the fields. They were building a big house on the farm, and there was a guy there to do the excavating work. I helped him out on the side, and that’s how I got into running equipment," he said. 

From there, Ralph got a job at a construction company and was set on getting into bigger dirt work.

“I like the big dirt work. The bigger the machine, the better for me. Even when I was younger, I could watch other people work and know that I’m better than them. But just because I was young and inexperienced, I never got a chance on it. They didn’t really go by your skills. It was all based on seniority, which I don’t think is right,” he noted.

Thankfully, another local company gave him the chance he was looking for.

“I had my CDL, so I could drive a truck, but other than that, I didn’t have that much experience. But they threw me in a machine right away. I’m a pretty quick learner. I have a knack for it. I hopped in there and caught on quick,” Ralph said.

Sometimes, Ralph considered moving into a foreman or project manager position, but he wasn't ready to give up operating just yet. As he put it, “Right now I have a pretty gravy job. I still wouldn’t rule it out though, that’s for sure.”

Find out how you can become a heavy equipment operator like Ralph.

Field Team
Equipment Operator

What’s next

Create a Dirt World profile

Create a BuildWitt Jobs profile

people on each thumbnail

Learn why others have joined the industry

Check out companies in the Dirt World

Check out companies in the Dirt World

Why Build a Career in the Dirt World-button

Read the article: Why Build a Career in the Dirt World?