Crane/Top Lifter Operator
Class of 1984
By Whitney Onishi
Robert Medeiros is a crane/top lifter operator at Young Brothers. His job title is Lead Person, which is similar to a foreman. He operates a 40-ton 80,000 lbs. capacity crane/top lifter that loads and unloads 20, 24, 40, and 45-foot containers from barges and trucks that dock at the Hilo harbor.
He chose this career because the pay and benefits are really good. Also, he finds that it is a big challenge to operate heavy equipment. Previously, Robert was a truck driver and warehouseman. Operating a Hi lift and driving a semi tractor-trailer helped him prepare for this career. He doesn’t need a license to work the crane, but was required to become certified as a machine operator.
Robert works long hours: Monday from 5am to 8pm, Tuesday and Friday 5am to 4pm, Wednesday, 7am to 4pm and Thursday, 7am to 5pm. Because of the size of the machinery and its loads, his job is dangerous. When the top lifter needs to come to an immediate stop, it can tip over when carrying a load. Accidents, such as a container falling off a barge or a crane, can easily happen when machinery malfunctions or the operator is distracted. The most unusual item that he unloaded was the telescope lenses for the observatories on Mauna Kea, which are valued in millions of dollars and are very fragile.
His advice to students who want to enter this competitive and lucrative field include getting basic skills in operating a high lift and truck driving experience.
Robert is a member of the class of 1984. He wanted to try out for football, but was in a serious dirt bike accident and broke his ankle. He remembers being in the Future Farmers of America with Mr. Gerod Victorine and credits Mr. James Abe, Mrs. Donna Tanabe and Mr. Ken Yamase as being some of his memorable teachers. His wife, Kori Ann, is also a WHS graduate who works at the school as a SSC clerk. They have two boys, Korin, age 12, and Kodi, age 10.