Alex Kennell’s strong work ethic sprouted early in life, on the family farm in central Illinois. Never afraid to get his hands dirty, he learned how to take equipment apart and make repairs that saved more than a few trips to the mechanic. While still in high school, he also put those skills to work in a machinist shop that made race engines.

“I was always wrenchin’ on something,” says Alex, a goal-oriented guy by nature. “When I start something, I have to finish it.”

After graduating in 2016, Alex joined Drake-Scruggs Equipment, where he learned to build and repair utility service trucks, bucket trucks, digger derricks, and cranes, as well as mobility equipment, such as wheelchair-accessible vans.

His skill set caught the eye of Industrial Inspection & Analysis (IIA). In spring 2022, the company successfully recruited Alex to inspect aerial lifts, bucket trucks, digger derricks and other lift equipment.

As Midwest Inspector for IIA’s Lift Services division, Alex travels around his home state of Illinois and the Midwest to inspect and certify the same types of equipment he once helped build. Most frequently, he performs dielectric testing to ensure equipment is safe to operate near energized power lines and equipment, and magnetic particle testing to identify cracks and other flaws in lift equipment. With an eye for detail, Alex is also skilled in performing visual and operational inspections of lift equipment, as well as other types of non-destructive testing (NDT).

“When I’m trying to explain to a customer why something’s not safe, my background in equipment manufacturing really comes in handy. I know exactly how the equipment works because I’ve taken it apart before,” he says. “It helps give the customer a better understanding of why they need to get something fixed or why they can’t bypass a safety feature.”

While he’s mastered machinery, Alex is equally fascinated by the inner workings of the people he encounters every day. He particularly enjoys training new inspectors and connecting with customers.

“I love meeting new people and learning what makes them tick,” says Alex, who makes it a priority to build relationships with customers. “It’s important to me to make sure the customer is happy. I want customers to know they’re not just a number to us. We’re here for them when they need us.”

Using his experience and insight, Alex enjoys turning a concerned customer into a confident one.

“All lift equipment has the potential to be dangerous. Inspections bring a new level of confidence to that equipment. There’s a shift that happens when the customer knows what we’ve looked at and tested, and they know their equipment is safe to use,” says Alex, who understands the gravity of his daily work. “Even something that seems minor can be a really big deal. Somebody’s life is in our hands.”