Jo Martin wasn’t exactly a stranger to heavy equipment operations before taking a course at Heavy Equipment Colleges of America’s Georgia campus — he operated heavy machinery back in the 80’s, while in the Marine Corps. But after leaving the Marine Corps and working as a police officer for 28 years, he decided to go back and work full time as a crane operator. Today, as a traveling crane operator for Zachry Industrial, he’s working on projects like power plants, chemical plants, and civil industry (just to name a few). Below, we spoke to Jo about going back to school at 55 and his journey to finding his dream career in retirement!
A resident of Augusta, GA, Jo was working as a traffic officer for a sheriff’s office before deciding to make the switch to heavy equipment operations.
“As I was approaching retirement, and looking at my retirement package, I began talking to different investment firms. I spoke to several firms, and honestly the customer service I received was horrible. As I was venting to a friend, he said this, and I will never forget it: ‘the best investment you can make is in yourself. What do you really enjoy doing?’ I really enjoyed the times I had while operating equipment in the military. Even though I had experience, I needed to refresh my skills so I could get up to speed on the modern cranes, technology, and the rules and laws. So, I started to look into schools.”
There was one obstacle, though — how to pay for the training.
“I was thinking ‘man, this is great, but schools were not cheap.’ Being a numbers guy, and thinking of what my buddy had said, I started crunching numbers — the only way I could invest in myself was a school loan. Well, lending institutions don’t see cranes or other construction equipment as a formal school. Hum, not good, but I looked around and kept seeing people with Masters Degrees not being able to find awesome work.”
This is where Climb came in.
“I spoke to the folks at Climb, applied, submitted the standard forms and documents, and was approved. Simple as that. Climb is geared to just this type of education, so they understood. They knew that the industry was in need of every discipline in construction. Better odds than my Master’s Degree buddies.”
And just like that, the path was cleared to a career-building education.
“Going back to school for my certifications is a clean way to a job … Everyone at my school cared about me succeeding! What a concept!!!!”
Then came the end of Jo’s program and the beginning of his job search.
“My school — Heavy Equipment College of Georgia — has career coaches, and they start looking with you for awesome opportunities the first week you start school.”
Now, he not only has a career he enjoys, but a work environment as well.
“Honestly, I was a police officer for 28 years. I think I’m one of the most decorated officers I know, and even though I got awards and all that, I always felt talked down to and unappreciated…
“As a traveling crane operator, every day either my teammates or bosses pump me up!!!! ‘Awesome Papi,’ ‘kick butt Papi,’ ‘you smoke Papi’ and ‘thanks for helping us out!’ Wow, a pat on the back, a winning team environment. Something I missed since my days in the Marine Corps.
“Did I mention? I went back to school at the age of 55. I make three times what I made as a policeman.”
And what advice would he go back and give himself, if he could?
“No one is going to just give you something for nothing … investing in yourself means you control your destiny. To control your destiny you must have a plan. To kick butt, you must have discipline. To be disciplined you must sacrifice. You MUST have a good attitude, good work ethic, and always be willing to listen and learn. Remember, you are now your own boss; you can not blame anyone other than yourself if you fail. BEST MOVE I MADE!!!!! I’m the boss of me and now my paychecks reflect it.”
Jo is a client of Climb’s. However, he was not paid or otherwise compensated for this testimonial. This testimonial reflects the real-life experiences and opinions of Jo; however, it should not be assumed that all users will have the same experiences. Individual results may vary.
The quoted statements appear verbatim as given by the user, except for the correction of grammar and typing errors. Some testimonials may have been shortened or rearranged for the sake of clarity.