HOWELL, Mich. (WLNS) — Hard hats and bulldozers could be seen in Howell on Saturday, as construction machine operators maneuvered through the Caterpillar Global Operator Challenge.

“I’m one of those fortunate people that wake up every day and love going to work because I love what I do for a living,” said Paul Spaniola, a competitor.

Spaniola is no stranger to working with construction equipment, as he’s been working with equipment for 37 years. He was also the first competitor in Saturday’s event.

“Being the first one to go makes it tough because I’ve set the bar, but I don’t know if it’s high or low,” said Spaniola.

Paul was one of 35 people who competed in three timed events, including obstacle courses, digging trenches, pushing tires and small objects- all while inside equipment like excavators.

“They do make it look very easy,” said Tony Marulli, the Sales Manager for Michigan CAT. “Although after talking to the first competitor, it wasn’t as easy as he thought. And I think that’s where nerves get in.”

Marulli has said the event is a great way to bring more people in.

“It’s been a significant challenge for us for the last 10 years, whether it’s mechanics operators for us and for our customer base,” said Marulli. “So anything that we can do to, to attract people to this industry, it’s really an extremely rewarding industry.”

The champion of today’s event will be moving on to the next round in North Carolina.

For the competitors, winning wasn’t the only thing on their minds.

“Don’t hit the cones. Don’t touch the ground. You’re not digging deep enough. You’re digging too deep. It just, you know, you’re concentrating so hard on doing the challenge,” continued Spaniola.

The Caterpillar Global Operator Challenge is happening across the globe, and the last one standing will be heading to Vegas in March 2023, for a chance to become the world’s best operator.