Three New England employees competing in 2016 Forklift Rodeo Championship

By Darlene Masse

Ten contestants recently vied for the chance to represent New England at National Grid’s 2016 Forklift Rodeo Championship. The third annual competition is being held on October 12 in Syracuse, NY, and regional rodeos are currently taking place to determine who will compete in this national event.

After several hours of competition at the New England Distribution Center in Sutton, three employees earned the honor to go to the Syracuse event and compete for the ultimate bragging rights of National Forklift Rodeo Champion.

The New England winners are:

  • Brian Pattenaude
  • Shane Waldron
  • Melissa Ritchie (Melissa was last year’s National Forklift Rodeo Champion) flr2

The regional and national competitions are a fun and engaging way to reinforce the importance of safe forklift procedures. Participants are judged on proper operation practices while completing a series of agility and obstacle courses. The events are not races, but rather demonstrations of safe forklift handling maneuvers with penalties incurred if participants exhibit unsafe driving methods.

“The courses are good and realistic. They are not as easy as they look, especially with everyone watching you,” said Laurie Stenovitch, who participated in the regional competition for the first time this year. Laurie is a material handler in our Melrose Street facility in Providence and has worked at the company for 29 years. She was excited to compete this year, and talked about the importance of safety on the job and how it is encouraged every day.

flr3“Given the inherent dangers of operating heavy machinery, the Forklift Rodeo is a great way to encourage a culture of positive forklift safety among all warehouse employees,” said Bob Heron, a National Grid supervisor who organized this year’s New England competition. Forklift accidents occur every year on worksites and can lead to significant personal injuries as well as product and property damage. The majority of forklift accidents are the result of operator error or unfamiliarity with correct forklift operations. This competition reinforces and showcases safe operational practices.

Although only three contestants will be representing New England in the national event, it was a tremendous effort on behalf of all the participants. Congratulations to everyone who competed, including: Karl Amorelli, Greg Bernier, Brian Patenaude, Shane Waldron, Mark Fernandes, Josh Larosee, Stacy Gutkey, Mike Milionis, Laurie Stenovitch and Melissa Ritchie.


Good luck to our New England competitors in Syracuse. Team New England is routing for you!

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You can view this video here. Please note that the video plays after the commercial. 


Left to right: Melissa Ritchie, Brian Pattenaude and Shane Waldron are representing New England in this year’s national competition in Syracuse. New England combined its regional competitions into one event this year and has winners representing the major areas.

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