; James A Owens, owner of EZ Rig Crane, Master Rigger, Millwright - EzRig CraneEzRig Crane

James A Owens, owner of EZ Rig Crane, Master Rigger, Millwright

Biography

James (Jim) A. Owens – Master Rigger – Millwright

Rigging is defined by Webster’s as “the system of ropes, or chains employed to support a ship’s masts (standing rigging) and to control or set the yards and sails (running rigging).

A second definition of rigging is “the act of arranging dishonestly for the result of something, for example an election, to be changed.”

There is also the rigging of an aircraft; “that is the joining of parts or subassemblies by various means until the entire aircraft is in condition for operation.”

Then there is the more contemporary definition of rigging in blender which is “the 3D application with a wide range of tools, allowing one to create 3D models, that is to render, rig or animate etc.”

Finally, the definition most appropriate here is “rigger” as the “person who specializes in the lifting and moving of extremely large or heavy objects, often with assistance of a crane or derrick or chain hoists (chain falls).”

A Qualified Rigger according to OSHA is defined as a: “Person holds a degree, certificate or profession standing OR, Person has extensive knowledge, training and experience AND Person can successfully demonstrate their ability.”

There are multiple ways to gain crane “certification” but there is only one way to become a qualified rigger and that is through on-going training and experience.

So why would I identify myself as a “Master Rigger”.  Easy.  I have decades of experience and numerous “certifications” first by one agency on then another.

As a millwright for twelve years I cut my teeth on the overhaul of fossil fuel turbines, erection and rebuild of various paper mills and too many to-count-short term jobs taking apart and putting back together big machines.  There was a lot of new construction in there also.

My first goal was to hone my skills as a journeyman millwright and then it became obvious the last men on any job were the ones who were certified welders as well as quality millwrights.  I went to school on weekends and became the best certified welder that I could be.  Finally, I noticed that the men most valued were the “Qualified Riggers”.  I saw my niche and went for it.  Rigging 20-ton turbine rotors with extremely precise fits was a challenging task.  I liked it.  Removing a 20’-0” diameter parent roll from a paper machine was also challenging.  Sticking an 8-ton Rice Mill inside the fourth floor of an Anheuser Busch brew house with two cranes showed me that the heaviest “picks” were not necessarily the most difficult.

After twelve years as a millwright supervising all types of work, I decided that I could do as well, if not better, than most of the contractors I was employed by.  I got my California Contractor’s license.  It was scary, but it was fun.  Being in business for myself took away any need to gamble.  Every day was a gamble.  I bid to do the best job I could.  I won some and lost most bids.  I was not a low bidder.  If I could not do it right, I did not want to do it.

Rigging was an integral part of every job that my company, Craftsmen Construction, Inc., did.  Quality was not to be sacrificed.  We did well, and the company grew.  My “Qualified Rigger” title soon expanded to “Master Rigger” as my company and I conquered the most challenging rigging tasks – one after another.  A contractor’s Class A license and a license as a certified steel fabricator from the City of Los Angeles was added to our corporate resume.  Our shop evolved into an ASME pressure vessel shop and finally to a structural and miscellaneous steel fabrication facility.

When a quality metal service center proved unavailable in our local area, Ventura Metal Brokers, Inc., was birthed to meet that need.  It survives to this day under the control of the person who took it over after twenty years of service.

Soon, I began to question my 18-year-old decision to choose the Marine Corps over continuing in college.  My Dad voted for college, so did my Mom.  I wanted to try life on my own so after four years in the Marine Corps and two assignments in Southeast Asia I returned to civilian life.  The GI Bill afforded me the chance to complete two years of junior college but then there was a girl, and marriage, and a kid and life was moving rather quickly toward a mortgage and life as a millwright and then contractor.  The question remained; Would I have done better if I had continued with college?  To answer that question, I returned to school and got a bachelor’s degree in business administration.  If a little is good, then a lot must be better, so from there it was off to California State University in Thousand Oaks, Ca. for a Master of Business Administration, followed by a master’s in Organizational Behavior and Management, and finally a Master of Marketing.  I think the main thing I learned from three master’s degrees was the ability and skill to learn.

With all the rigging experience, years as a contractor, multiple college degrees and the experience of creating four successful businesses I found myself intrigued with EZ Rig Crane.  It is about 1,000# of steel that can pick up a maximum of 2,000 pounds 19’-0” in the air.  It really proves my point that the toughest rigging jobs are not always the heaviest.

We re-engineered the little crane and documented every step of its design, capacity and capability.  We had a Professional Structural Engineer analyze and certify all calculations.  Then we built the crane and took it in our shop where we tested it.  We put it through every conceivable test to ensure that when James A. Owens, Master Rigger, put his name behind the crane, it would most certainly do everything and anything that it was designed to do.

Born of blue-collar parents at the end of World War II led me to drop out of college and enlist in the Marine Corp during the Vietnam era. Forty plus years of contracting in good and bad times taught me the value of honesty and integrity in business. EZ Rig crane came from that. It is strong and tough. It is not for every job but when it is the right job, it is the best at what it does.