Tall crane operations demonstrated to SUN Tech students

May 10—NORTHUMBERLAND — More than 30 carpentry and welding class students from SUN Area Technical Institute, in New Berlin, visited Zartman Construction Company Thursday morning, where employees explained and then demonstrated the real-world technicalities of tall crane rigging and operating.

Hosting the student field trip was Tim Clark, Zartman's vice president of operations. He noted there are currently five employees who had been SUN Tech students, and three students currently involved in co-op programs.

"We've always had a good relationship with vocational programs in the area," Clark said. "With this visit, we are giving the students a general overview of some of the basic things we do with rigging and signaling cranes, and hopefully inspire them to get into commercial construction. Hopefully, they'll want to come work for us."

What SUN-Tech students bring to the table is geared toward residential construction, Clark said.

"We're a commercial contractor so, while some of what they learn carries over, there are differences," he said. "At least they have the basics of carpentry to get them started. We also get a fair number of welders from vo-tech schools."

Hiring skilled workers is tough these days, Clark said.

"Fortunately we're steady, and everybody is working and there are growth opportunities right now," he said. "The nice part about working with vo-tech students is we know they want to be a tradesman. So they have a work ethic that is desirable."

Upon arrival, the students sat in a classroom-like setting and listened to short lectures by employees Andrew Switzer, crane superintendent, Craig Treacher, on signaling, and Stephen Bollinger, equipment rental specialist, talking about load plans.

Eric Turofski, SUN Tech school-to-career coordinator said the value of such educational field trips is that "there is no possible way we can afford cranes and rigging hardware, and that type of equipment through our programs. We have to abide by our budgets, so a lot of our construction trade programs, including carpentry and welding incorporate these elevated devices such as cranes."

A few years ago Clark offered the opportunity to come out to a company that employs many SUN Tech students.

Carpentry students Joldany Santiago, Lewisburg High, and Hunter Stahl, Selinsgrove High, were impressed by the demonstrations.

"I would certainly think about Zartman, possibly as a place to work," Santiago said while watching a crane operator lift and move some heavy objects.

"I think I'll stick with framing," said Hayden Kovashetz, Selinsgrove High, "but work here at Zartman would be cool to look at."

By day's end, Turofski said two students at the demonstration said they would consider applying for work at Zartman Construction.