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Women in Construction: Hoisting Engineer Harlie Crist

Harlie began her career operating heavy equipment in the sanitation industry before joining Operating Engineers 324 and pursuing a career in the skilled trades.

On many days, Hoisting Engineer Harlie Crist (Operating Engineers 324) reports for work at the Hudson’s Site Development in downtown Detroit and takes the Tower elevator up to the 42nd floor. From there, she crosses a catwalk some 600 feet above ground level over to the tower crane and climbs a ladder another 120 feet – something that can be a challenge on its own, not to mention when navigating the snow and ice of Michigan winters – to enter the crane cabin to begin her shift.

Nearly 720 feet in the sky, Harlie has the best view of Detroit’s skyline as part of the first skyscraper development the city has seen in decades. And perhaps just as notable as the project she’s working on is Harlie’s history-making journey to becoming the only woman in Michigan to have received her CCO from the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators. This, along with her drive to take on new challenges and be a lifelong learner, has established Harlie as a go-to heavy equipment operator on Detroit’s most significant development.

“I enjoy learning new things, different things every day,” she says. “It was always a goal – how much knowledge can I obtain, how much can I learn? I’ll run whatever needs to be done to get the job done.”

Harlie has been with Barton Malow for about three years and started on the Hudson’s project after wrapping up work on the General Motors Factory ZERO project in Hamtramck, Michigan, with another contractor. In the meantime, she finished her three-year apprenticeship program and earned her tower crane CCO. Not only was she the first woman to earn such certification in Michigan, but she was the first woman in the state ever even to take the test.

Step into a day in Harlie’s boots by checking out the video below: