Ermes Gemo from Italy has been crowned Operators Club champion for the second time, following a year of grueling local heats and a final test of speed, precision and technique at the Volvo CE compact excavator plant in Belley, France, this October.
On Saturday 8th October Volvo CE pitted 20 of Europe, Middle East and Russia’s most talented operators against each other in one of the construction industry’s toughest tests of precision operation – the Operators Club Final. Representing Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey and Great Britain, the competitors took part in three qualifying disciplines, before those with the five quickest times were invited to compete in a final oil barrel pyramid challenge.
Representing Great Britain were Liam Lambert and Tom Pederson. Liam, owner of Liam Lambert Construction Ltd based near Norwich started GB’s effort in the compeititon followed shortly by Tom, a self-employed Operator from Worcester.
First the operators had to pick up golf balls using a dessert spoon attached to a tooth on the bucket of a Volvo EC35D compact exavator and drop them through a hole in a raised wooden log into a plastic container. Both GB contenders performed well in the first round with Tom finishing fourth overall and Liam in fifth.
Then the operators used a Volvo L30G compact wheel loader to stack three metal crates without disturbing the tennis balls on top of the cones inside them or in the surrounding area. Liam performed well in this round and qualified for the semi-final but a knock from Tom ended his competition in a scattering of tennis balls.
Next the operators were tasked with manouvering a metal guide, attached to the arm of a Volvo EC220E excavator, through a wooden maze without touching the sides. Liam managed a quick time but unfortunately hit the sides on a number of occassions incuring too many time penalties to qualify for the grand final.
In the grand final the operators demonstrated their skills on a Volvo EWR150E wheeled excavator by building a pyramid out of six oil barrels. Time penalties were awarded for mistakes in each of the challenges and dropping an oil barrel resulted in instant disqualification.
Ermes Gemo from Italy completed the final oil barrel pyramid challenge in the quickest time, closely followed by Nicolas Monnaye from France and Alfred Köhl from Austria. Winner Gemo has been a regular competitor at the Operators Club Final for several years, also claiming the title in 2014. The 37-year-old from Battaglia Terme in Padova, Italy, has been working on construction sites for almost 20 years, with expertise spanning building and excavation, quarrying, demolition and landscaping. He is currently employed by Impresa Edile Belluco Giampaolo, based in Due Carrare, Padova, and frequently operates a Volvo L70F wheel loader, as well as Volvo EC35D and EC220E excavators.
“We have some extremely good operators in Italy but it was still a very tough competition. I’m delighted for Ermes – his performance was fantastic!” says Volvo CE Italia’s Market & Brand Communication Manager Vincenzo De Berardinis, who is responsible for the 850 member strong Italian Operator’s Club branch.
Niclas Wahlström, Vice President for Hub West (continental Europe) within Volvo CE Sales Region EMEA and host of the 2016 Operators Club Final, says: “We have been running the Operators Club since 1998 and now have branches in most of our major European markets. We believe the Operators Club is an excellent concept for us to reach out to the operators we have and make them part of the Volvo family. We also see the club and these events as a very good way for us to get firsthand feedback from the best operators on how our machines are performing and how we can improve them for the future. It was clear from this 2016 final that we had some of the most professional operators in Europe and it was great to see such a highly competitive spirit and the pride felt by all involved.”
Video highlights from the 2016 Operators Club Final in Belley, France, can be viewed on the Volvo CE Global Facebook page.