Lift Truck Rodeo Tests Drivers’ Skill

Members of the Lift Truck Safety Solution Team spearhead the annual Lift Truck Rodeo event at the Ashdown Mill.

The 2015 Lift Truck Rodeo delivered on its promise to be bigger and better than ever as 145 employees participated in this year’s event. Richard Montanelli was the grand champion and also took home first place in the clamp truck division.  The Lift Truck Rodeo is a unique event that tests operators’ driving skills and knowledge of operating their vehicle—fork, clamp truck, or Bob Cart/Skid Steer.

The rodeo included several components requiring each participant to identify as many safety hazards as possible on a designated lift truck, then complete an obstacle course requiring the safe movement of various products in a warehouse setting.

“It’s very gratifying to see how our rodeo continues to grow and to know that we’re making an impact on the safety of our mill,” said Terry Hughes, Safety Manager.” When this event was first implemented by the members of the Lift Truck Safety Solution Team, no one could have imagined it would still be going strong years later, with even a greater amount of enthusiasm from everyone involved.”

It’s more than competitive fun. Lift truck incidents are a major concern in the industry and a leading cause of injury in many facilities such as ours. Since the implementation of the solutions team and events like the rodeo, the Ashdown Mill has seen a significant decrease in this type of injury.

Judges evaluated the contestants on their knowledge of personal safety, basic fork or clamp truck operation, and safe completion of an obstacle course. The top three finishers in each category were recognized and awarded prizes, as was the overall champion of the competition.

The mill’s Lift Truck Safety Solution Team developed the rodeo concept in 2000 as a fun and non-traditional way to focus on continuous safety improvement across the mill.  This event would not be possible without the commitment from these employees.

Although employees enjoy the competitive nature of the rodeo, the primary focus is on the safety aspect of the competition.

Congratulations to all the winners!


  • Richard Montanelli


  • Jason McAdams (Woodyard)


  • 1st – Richard Montanelli (Mills Service)
  • 2nd – Richard Bowman (Woodyard)
  • 3rd – Randy Ainsworth (Shipping)


  • 1st – Monica Willis (Shipping)
  • 2nd – Jamie Patterson (Converting)
  • 3rd – John Hemphill (Converting)


  • 1st – Scott Davis (Maintenance)
  • 2nd – Billy Kennedy (Maintenance)
  • 3rd – Keith Frazier (Maintenance)


  • 1st – Kim Horn (Safety)
  • 2nd – Heather Hess (IT)
  • 3rd – Digger Pond (Fiber Manager)

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Vanessa Walker concentrates as she completes her required task while competing in the Lift Truck Rodeo.

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One of the skills rodeo participants try to master each year is picking up a basketball with the forks and actually making a basket.  It takes great focus to be successful at this obstacle.