Kyle Bleeker has been around heavy equipment all his life, while he began his career in the industry as a Laborer, now he’s starting his journey as an operating engineer working at Lunda Construction and completing Phase I of the crane apprenticeship program at the Local 49 Training Center.

“I started as a Laborer with Lunda Construction right out of high school, but after seven and a half years I finally got my foot in the door with the 49ers,” Bleeker said.

Immediately when he began his career at Lunda, Bleeker gravitated toward cranes.

“The way they operate, how they work and what they can do just kind of blew my mind,” Bleeker said. “I always heard my dad talk about what cranes can do, but I never really understood it until I saw it up close.”

Even though Bleeker had an instant interest with cranes he said he has operated skid loaders, excavators, dozers and forklifts – just to name a few – but is looking forward to sticking with cranes. “I can do it all if I had to, but now that I’m into cranes I definitely want to stay there,” he said.

Bleeker has only been a member of Local 49 for a year, but is making the most of it by taking several classes at the Local 49 Training Center and likes the split between time in the classroom and hands on experience. “I like the variety of what you can do, with the 49ers you’re in the classroom half of the time and then you’re out doing things, and they have a variety of types of equipment to learn on,” he said.

Bleeker began the four-week long crane apprenticeship program in the spring of 2017. “I worked with Ryan O’Gary – crane apprenticeship instructor – for years and he taught me the ropes and got my foot in the door with Local 49 in the first place,” Bleeker explained.

“Plus sitting in on class I was comfortable asking a question, they always said ‘no question is a dumb question’ and that’s how they made me feel which was a good thing,” he added.

Now that Bleeker has completed Phase I of the crane apprenticeship program, he will be gearing up for Phase II, which will begin in February, and will primarily be focused on preparing for the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCO) exam.

“A lot of people can go out and run a piece of equipment, but to know how to actually operate it and understand how it works, that’s another thing,” Bleeker said. “So I think Phase II will be really pounding a lot of that information to pass that test so we can be a successful crane operator.”

Bleeker said that after he completes Phase II of the crane apprenticeship program, he’s looking forward to gaining his certification and plans to take the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) class at the Training Center and obtain his CDL.