June 22, 2022—Kerry Hulse, who served CCO for 25 years, first as Chair of the Commission and then as a member of the Board of Directors, will step down from the Board on June 30, 2022, when his term will be completed.
Those with long memories will find it difficult to recall a time when Kerry Hulse was not associated in some manner with the CCO. Kerry’s involvement with what became known as CCO certification actually predates the formation of the organization body.
To say that Kerry was “in at the beginning” of this extraordinary initiative does scant justice to the degree to which he devoted his time, energy, and perseverance to help formulate a program of crane operator assessment that had no precedent in the construction environment at the time it was created.
Back in 1987, the Board of Directors of the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA) assigned a portion of its Long Range Plan to its Crane & Rigging Group to address the subject of operator certification—a subject the Crane Operator Certification Task Force noted in a memo the following year was “becoming an issue around the country in various forms.” One year later, that became more true than anyone would have wished in the wake of the infamous San Francisco tower crane collapse.
The name that graced the documents generated by the Task Force was Kerry’s and, for the next five years or so, he was at the head of an initiative—as chair of the SC&RA Crane Operator Task Force—that would see the establishment, in January 1995, of the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators.
It’s important to note that Kerry’s role was not a ceremonial one. He was at the front line of efforts to raise awareness of the need for independently developed and administered crane operator certification examinations; to convince experts in the field to share their knowledge and mastery of the skill of crane operation; to raise funds so that the initiative could be sustained; and, perhaps most importantly of all, to cajole, persuade and in any manner appropriate, convince employers to participate in this potentially life-saving project—all in an environment that lacked any culture of third-party certification of competency, where involvement by an outside entity in a company’s internal qualification efforts was often met with intense suspicion, and where any training that did exist was frequently jealously guarded.
Having been so instrumental in getting CCO established, it came as a surprise to no-one that Kerry was soon tapped to lead the Commission, a position he held for the next 15 years, during which time he chaired a remarkable 31 meetings in 23 cities and 18 states, shepherding no fewer than 438 separate motions through to approval by the Board of Directors.
If that weren’t enough, over the next three years Kerry also found time to chair the Practical Exam Task Force that produced the very first performance-based examination (for mobile cranes) in 2000.
The anthropologist Margaret Meade once wrote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
Kerry Hulse was part of the “small group” that formed CCO. But he also stayed on to see the hopes and dreams of its founding fathers surpassed beyond their wildest expectations.
On the occasion of NCCCO’s 20th Anniversary Gala, Kerry coined the term “Difference-Maker.” If ever there was someone who deserves that title, it’s Kerry Hulse. His selfless commitment over two-and-a-half remarkable decades has saved incalculable lives, prevented innumerable life-changing injuries, and ensured that more workers have come home to their loved ones than would otherwise have been the case.
As he takes that legacy with him into well-deserved retirement, make no mistake that this industry owes Kerry an enormous debt of gratitude for his selfless service and dedication to what has been called the most significant development in construction safety in U.S. history.
Kerry will continue to be a difference maker in the industry by serving on the NCCCO Foundation Board of Directors, where he was recently elected Vice President.