CICA, Features, New South Wales

Gunning for diversity

Recognising the crane sector is facing a skills shortage, Sydney’s TopGun Cranes set about making the business more attractive to diverse groups including young men and women. Business owner Barry Ramm and Operations Manager Phill Martin explain more.

“Several years ago, we recognised the industry was going to face the double-edged problem of a high percentage of the crane and construction workforce reaching the age of retirement and a shortage of youngsters entering the industry to fill these roles,” Barry says.

“At TopGun Cranes, we recognised the ageing demographic within our own organisation and decided to diversify and attract youngsters to the business, especially young ladies.”

“There didn’t seem any point in sitting back and hearing about the problems, we decided to do something about it. We are a medium sized business with family values being a key focus. We are transparent with our teams, and we treat each other with respect. I wouldn’t ask anyone to do anything I’m not prepared to do myself,” Barry adds.

This approach attracted Aimee Nankervis to TopGun Cranes two years ago. Aimee originates from Blayney which is in the Central West Region of New South Wales.

“I’m a country girl,” said Aimee. “I spent a bit of time working in the mines and in a Nestlé factory before my partner and I moved to Sydney, as he had work on a tunnelling project.

“Having put myself through Dogman and Operators Courses for a short time, I worked with a different crane company, but with a move of house the location of the yard no longer suited. I heard about TopGun Cranes and gave Phill a call. From the first meeting, I was made to feel very welcome,” she said.

Phill says the company’s clients are responding well to Aimee.

TopGun’s Barry Ramm, Aimee Nankervis, Katelyn Duffy , Office Manager, trainee apprentice Georgia O’Connor and
Phill Martin.

“Aimee and the crews she works with constantly receive excellent reviews from our clients,” he says.

Aimee discusses the approach to mentoring at TopGun Cranes and how some of the senior team members are more than happy to share their experience. She also elaborates on working in a High Risk, male dominated work environment. 

“Everybody is happy to help you and then there are others that go above and beyond. I’ve learnt that no question is a stupid question, and if you don’t know, then you ask.” 

“I have been very lucky, everyone’s always happy to help,” she adds.

“In my experience, people are encouraging of the fact that I am a woman and I guess seeing a young woman jump into and operate a crane isn’t something you see every day,” Aimee says.

Aimee goes on to discuss what she likes about the work and what motivates her every day.

“I love that there’s a great variety of work, something new every day. You get to see all of Sydney, and you are always meeting new people,” she says.

TopGun crews constantly receive excellent reviews from clients.

“That’s what I love. City Cranes and Frannas are what I operate mostly in the fleet, however I have my Open Class Ticket and never pass up an opportunity to jump in the seat of the larger capacity cranes. I also drive the Semi-Trailers with Counterweight for cranes in the fleet,” Aimee adds.

Aimee discusses the family approach, and ‘can do’ culture TopGun Cranes has instilled in the team.

“The best thing with TopGun Cranes is they really do provide you with a Family Work Life Balance,”
she says.

“They understand that you’ve got more than a life outside of work and there is a ‘can-do’ attitude around the place because everyone is happy to help each other.”

Aimee understands she is growing with her role and with the Top Gun Cranes business. She’s increasing her experience and learning from the mentoring she receives from the experienced team. 

“I’m always making room for improvement and I’m gradually working my way into the bigger cranes. Honestly, I think more young people, especially girls, should get into the industry as it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. 

“I thought I’d give the crane industry a red hot go, and I’m really glad I have. Nearly four years later, I’m still loving it!” she says. 

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