Time and again, people involved in the construction industry remark about how it “gets into your blood in a way that many other businesses don’t and you never really retire.” This could definitely be said of George Schulz, who recently retired from Ransome CAT after more than 47 years on the job.
When asked about his retirement plans, Schulz said, “I would be open to conducting any training sessions on heavy equipment in the future if there is any interest or opportunity.”
Certainly this statement indicates that Schulz is a man who loves his work even decades after starting out. Schulz’s career with Ransome, known as Giles & Ransome Inc. in those days, began on May 18, 1961, right after he had completed three years with the Army Corps of Engineers. He started as a new and used equipment mechanic in the service department, but quickly moved on to becoming a first class mechanic.
The First “First”
In 1965, Schulz established one of his, and the company’s, firsts by becoming the inaugural sentinel service technician at Giles & Ransome. This meant that Schulz was certified to do inspections by contract. Equipment owners agreed to pay Giles & Ransome a flat fee to have their machines inspected and serviced monthly. The work was done outside normal working hours, usually at night, when the machines would not be in use. Once the inspections were complete, a full condition report would be sent to the customers, with a specific list of machines and items that were in need of repair. This was not only a new idea at Giles & Ransome, but it was also a new idea in the industry as a whole, so Schulz was truly a pioneer in being one of the first to achieve the status.
Despite these successes as a mechanic, Schulz really hit his stride in 1969 when he made the switch to the Giles & Ransome sales department, as expressed by Cliff Barnes, general manager, product support at Ransome.
“Schulz’s skills and love for equipment led to over 30 years serving as equipment specialist. In this role, he was not only gifted, but with his hands-on approach he was instrumental in showing and teaching our customers how to operate their equipment,” Barnes stated.
Schulz made the move, he said, “Because it was an opportunity to demonstrate Caterpillar equipment in the field, to meet the contractors in our area and to work with some terrific salesmen.”
Certified Operator Training
It was during his tenure as an equipment specialist that Schulz established another first for himself and Ransome by becoming the company’s first certified dealer instructor under the Certified Operator Training that had been designed by Caterpillar and the University of Illinois.
“I was the first Caterpillar equipment trainer for Ransome CAT who was able to certify customer operators on Caterpillar equipment,” Schulz said.
In this role, Schulz was responsible for teaching a two-and-a-half day course to equipment operators. As part of a three-level program that also addressed “Machine Orientation Training” and “Standards Based Non-Certified Training,” this course, “Standards Based Certified Operator Training,” placed emphasis on standard safety features on Cat equipment and on how to use the equipment in situations that could be dangerous. In addition, operators were trained on all the performance features and production enhancements that are normally found on the equipment and how to use these features properly. The ultimate goal was to be sure that operators understood how best to use the features of the machines, which would create a safer work environment and increase production for Cat equipment owners. This was the highest level of the program, open to top equipment operators in the world, who had at least two years experience with the “product family” they were being certified in.
According to Barnes, “Schulz’s high standards of excellence and continuous desire to satisfy our customers made for a very successful relationship-building program, which received numerous accolades and recognition.”
Thanks for the Memories
However, for Schulz it’s not about the “firsts” he achieved or the awards he received.
“The moments that stand out for me were the trips to Caterpillar training sites at Tinaja Hills Training Center, Tucson, Ariz., factory visits at Peoria and Aurora, Ill., and training at Edward’s proving grounds, Peoria. I had the opportunity to learn and operate all the Caterpillar equipment, especially large machines that we don’t generally have in our area, such as, a D11, which is the largest tractor, 994 — the largest Cat wheel loader and all other Cat products,” he said.
Looking back through the last 47 years of his successful career, Schulz said, “I’d like to thank the Ransome family for giving me the opportunity to work for such a great company.”
Looking to the future, Schulz would like to “relax for a little while and enjoy the time off. Do some traveling, fishing and other recreational activities.” After all, that is what retirement is all about. Still, if anyone needs some help with a heavy construction equipment training session, Schulz is still the man. CEG