BASTROP (KXAN) — A Bastrop man will go head-to-head against construction workers from all around the world on Tuesday.
John Schiedeck, the CEO of Schiedeck Construction Inc., will compete in Caterpillar’s Global Operator Challenge in Las Vegas.
He’s one of only nine competitors remaining from a field of over 10,000 folks.
The challenge tests workers’ skills and knowledge in operating construction machines, something Schiedeck has done professionally for over 16 years.
While trying to take home the title, he’s also trying to inspire others to join an industry that’s struggled with staffing shortages.
According to the Associated General Contractors of America, the biggest challenges with recruiting workers in the industry is that few people have been exposed to construction as a career.
“The reason I’m competing is to bring light on the industry,” Schiedeck said. “It’s very hard to find people and I want to show that it’s a lot of fun.”
“I enjoy the precision that you can have in some of these machines for how big they are,” he said.
Caterpillar’s Global Operator Challenge is taking place at the opening day of CONEXPO-CON/AGG —North America’s largest construction trade show.
Throughout the timed tournament, competitors must dig trenches, load precise amounts of dirt and maneuver equipment through obstacles.
Schiedeck has been pushing the pedals of these large machines since a very young age.
“I remember my father having me move his machines around and I’d be leaning against the seat, pushing on the pedals just to reach him,” he said.
Curtis Fisher works with Schiedeck at a construction site in Elgin. The construction manager says Schiedeck is one of the best operators he’s ever seen.
“He just makes it look effortless, so smooth and easy,” Fisher said. “You learn to take stock in what he’s doing and learn from it.”
Both men are trying to erase the stigma surrounding construction workers as uneducated individuals.
“There’s a lot more to it than just physical labor,” Fisher said. “There’s a lot of time, effort and mathematical equations that have to go into it.”
“It can be very strenuous at times but it’s very rewarding work,” Schiedeck said.
The winner of the challenge will earn an all-expenses-paid trip to anywhere in the world with a Caterpillar location. If he claims first place, Schiedeck plans to take his wife to Germany for their anniversary.
“If I was to take the title in Las Vegas, it would be an amazing achievement not only for myself but for my community and Texas,” he concluded.