Commissioner Spotlight: Joe Bob Williams
Since 1973, Joel Robert Williams—Joe Bob, as most people know him—has been involved with cranes as well as efforts to improve safe working practices. He started in the 1960s, operating a digger derrick truck for the regional telephone company, GTE. In 1973, upon returning from a tour of duty in the Vietnam War, where he was part of the First Cavalry Division and was awarded a Bronze Medal, he joined Exxon Mobil as a rigger. He’s never looked back.
Williams says he always knew he wanted to be involved in crane safety. “Back in the good old days of the 1970s and 1980s, Exxon had a few fatalities involving cranes,” Williams says. “Exxon’s response was to start providing more training to the guys who were actually running the cranes, and I was appointed as the person responsible for that training.”
Williams moved on from Exxon Mobil in 1996 to Phillips Crane and Rigging Co., and later to Anthony Crane Rental. A few years after, Williams decided to open his own crane operator training company—East Texas Crane Academy. He has trained thousands of operators over the years, and many returned to his program for recertification courses. His Academy was acquired by Crane Inspection and Certification Bureau (CICB) in 2015.
Williams became involved with NCCCO when he heard it was seeking industry experts to join its ranks. Williams liked the idea and in 1996 became a charter Commissioner.
As Chairman of the Mobile Crane Written Exam Management Committee he helps to make sure that the exams remain up-to-date with current standards, reviewing questions, and maintaining their fairness. He especially takes pride in the fact that accidents in the industry have decreased over time.
“We have great certification programs out there,” Williams said. “The reason why is because we’ve been working on the tests for a long time, and there are many key people from the industry involved in our activities.”
When Williams isn’t working at CICB, he enjoys spending his time doing outdoor activities—fishing, hunting, and camping. He likes to tend to his garden and do some woodworking on the side as well. Searching for Native American artifacts is another exciting hobby he has taken up.