Certified Equipment Managers in the C-Suite?

By Karen ScallyMarch 17, 2021

Matt Cox’s promotion to director of asset management at Lehman-Roberts came with a string attached: He needed to get his Certified Equipment Manager (CEM) within the year.

“It’s one of those expectations that if you’re going to be in this role, you need to complete the requirements for becoming a CEM,” Cox says.

In addition to going through the Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) IGNITE Learning Lab, Cox says two other things helped him prepare for the CEM. First, he had 13 years of experience as a U.S. Army Commissioned Officer and MEDEVAC pilot where he oversaw the maintenance on a unit of 15 helicopters. Second, he had recently graduated from the University of Memphis Executive MBA program, so a lot of the financial components were fresh in his mind.

“This stuff isn’t easy,” Cox says. “You can’t just act like how fleets were 40 years ago, where you run it until it breaks and then you go get tools out of the shop and fix it. It’s very complex with having to understand your cost per ton or your cost per hour to run a machine. You need to understand your limitations of what you can do and what you need to rely on your vendors to help out with.”

Cox says the principles of the CEM are not necessarily intuitive, and to succeed in this role, fleet managers must understand that times have changed.

“There’s a legacy way of handling equipment maintenance, and then there’s what’s required of a modern equipment manager,” he says. “And it’s vastly different.”

The principles of the Certified Equipment Manager are not necessarily intuitive, says Matt Cox, CEM, director of asset management for Lehman-Roberts

When he entered the asset management position for the Memphis, Tennessee-based paving contractor, Cox says he didn’t appreciate how much financial responsibility it had.

“When you start talking about the budget of an equipment division, at times it can be 10% to 20% of the top line revenue of a company,” he says. “That’s a massive impact.”

He added, “And that is one of the stated goals of AEMP is to elevate the equipment manager into the C-suite, and rightfully so, because of the gravity of what we impact.”

Today’s equipment managers need to know how to partner strategically with vendors, how to lifecycle equipment, how to maximize the value of the fleet, how to set utilization rates, and much more, Cox says. All of this requires specific training, and that’s what IGNITE and the CEM designation provides.

But Cox wants to emphasize it’s just a start.

“I would caution people if they think that they’re going to take the IGNITE course, and all of a sudden, you’re going to have this body of knowledge and that you can then rest on your laurels after passing that exam, that’s not what it’s about,” he says. “Being a continuous learner and getting involved in AEMP, that’s really key.”

Karen Scally is a journalist who has covered the construction industry for over a decade and a current contributor to the blog at Gearflow.com, which is an online marketplace for construction parts, tools, and equipment. This article was adapted from its original version, “How to Prepare Now for Future of Electric Construction Equipment,” on the Gearflow.com blog.

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