Forty-year Local 49 member Loren Schwinghammer has spent his career building and maintaining the skyline of Minneapolis. As a crane operator, he has helped construct and maintain the Norwest Building, I-94 Bridge, I-35 W Bridge—now adding the U.S. Bank Stadium to his list.
Formerly, Schwinghammer operated a 300-ton crane at the stadium from January 2015 until January 2016 for Vic’s Crane Service. He remembers the job as one of his busiest; in the beginning, he was one of 30 crane operators working alongside 1,400 people, and operating an average of 50 – 60 lifts a day. While his year included a variety of projects, his most memorable moment is being the operator of the last crane at the stadium. “Being the last crane there really sticks out in my mind,” he said. “When all those cranes pulled out and I was the only one left – it was a good moment.”
He also worked on installing escalators and creating the roof’s signature U.S. Bank Stadium logo. “You have no idea what goes into that. There were 20 people out there going over all of the weight and charts so everything goes well—thankfully it did,” he said. As for the roof, “I was told to be very careful with the rolls.” Schwinghammer is the crane responsible for sending up the rolls that created the iconic logo that will mark the Minneapolis skyline.
During the course of the year, Schwinghammer remained committed to his job at the stadium despite getting calls about other jobs. He insisted, “I needed to finish this one.”
“It’s a big commitment,” he added. “Not many people know what it takes to stay in that crane and work hour after hour for a whole year.” He also acknowledges his fellow operators on the project. “They did a great job…everyone did a great job,” he said. “It all ran so smoothly.”
Schwinghammer plans to retire in October 2017, and is very proud to be a part of this project. “My uncle was a part of building the St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud. According to my sister’s comment, “I guess I’m working on today’s cathedral.”
Originally from St. Cloud, Schwinghammer grew up on a farm, having been introduced to cranes while working for a friend’s business in 1978. He graduated from St. Cloud State in 1983 with a degree in criminal justice and psychology, but says that it’s no comparison to the career he has now. “I did a little bit of that work part time, and was a police officer and worked on probation parole, but its no comparison,” he said.
Schwinghammer and his family are big Minnesota Viking’s fans. This project has not only been challenging for him, but exciting as well. He comments, “I just want to say thanks to my family for their support.” They understood the long days and difficult nature of the work but helped support me in being a part of this important project.
Check out more stories like Loren’s at www.local49.org.