BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — The Chicago Bears demand quality, from the players on the field to the equipment off the field.
“The Chicago Bears NFL team is a multimillion-dollar business; and just like any other successful organization, we demand nothing but first-class products from our suppliers,” said Bill Hawker, the Bears' corporate sales manager. “We have million-dollar ankles out there, and we're not going to do anything to jeopardize their evaluation and training. That extends to everything from the food we serve in camp to the equipment we use on and off the field.”
James Develder, area sales manager, and Larry Workman, president, of Illini Hi-Reach located in suburban Chicago, were aware of the insistence on quality when they approached Hawker regarding the team's need for aerial work platforms to be used as camera stands during training camp, held at Olivet Nazarene College in Bourbonnais, Ill.
The Bears digitally record every minute of every practice starting with the twice daily, two-and-a-half hour practices held during the preseason training camp. Two views are taken, one from the 50-yard line, the other from an end zone. Because the Bears use a number of fields during training camp, they require a total of six repositionable camera platforms for viewing and recording the practices. Since the fields are used for Olivet Nazarene College's regular athletic programs during the school year, permanent recording sites aren't practical.
Develder and Workman recommended six new JLG 600S boomlifts with 60-foot platform heights, 500-pound unrestricted platform capacities, and a platform that rotates 160 degrees so it can be positioned to cover any part of the field. It can hold a cameraman, the recording equipment as well as personal items.
The boomlift models they suggested are diesel powered, have four-wheel drive with oscillating axles, and are outfitted with JLG's optional SkyPower package, which includes a self-contained 7,500-watt generator with a power cable plus a half-inch air/water line integrated into the boom from the base to the platform. The boomlifts were over-specified for simply covering practices on the level terrain of a football field, because there was a plan for further use of the machines.
In addition to renting boomlifts to the Bears for their four-week preseason camp, Hawker and the Illini Hi-Reach reached a mutually advantageous agreement. The Bears would get new boomlifts shipped direct from the factory, and Illini Hi-Reach could leave the Bears logo on the lifts and place them into their regular rental fleet following training camp.
“We wanted to continue to expand our fleet, so we ordered new machines outfitted with the options most of our customers need,” Workman said.
Workman's rationale for wanting the Bears logo is that it is widely recognized throughout the Northern Illinois area — Illini Hi-Reach's market. Virtually everyone in Illini Hi-Reach's market knows the Bears. Workman says that when it comes time for a potential customer to rent boomlifts, they might remember “those good looking machines from Illini Hi-Reach with the Bears logo on them.” Workman added that he expects the machines to be fully deployed throughout Chicagoland until the 2006 Bears training camp starts.
The rental of the JLG boomlifts also benefited the men who do the actual recording and helped upgrade the quality of their output as well. David Hendrickson, assistant director of video services, is responsible for all the recording. He also spends time filming from a platform during each practice session. Hendrickson said that the JLG boomlifts give him a greater sense of security because of the platform stability. A stable platform keeps the cameras in focus, allowing him to capture every play.
Practice goes on in any weather, so Hendrickson enjoys the use of the wide, 3-foot by 8-foot platform, which gives him plenty of room to store his protective gear, drinks and snacks to sustain him through the two-and-a-half hour sessions. Once up in the air, he doesn't come down until practice is over.
Another feature of the JLG boomlifts that appeals both to Hendrickson and the Bears' coaches is the speed of the boom's ascent and descent. For Hendrickson, he can get into position quicker; and when the session is over, he can descend quicker so coaches can view the results of practice that much faster.