MIDDLESEX, NJ---Reaching new heights of success is nothing new for Fran Kruchkowski. Ever since she was 8 years old she has worked in the family-operated scaffolding business in some capacity.
Today she is the owner and president of Scaffolding Towers of America (STA), a Middlesex-based company that is a leading distributor of scaffolding and components manufactured by Bil-Jax and A-1 Scaffolding. She is proud to say that the company is still family-operated, as her son, Jeffrey Kruchkowski, has been heavily involved for almost three decades.
“We rent, sell, and install scaffolding for jobs of all sizes,” said Kruchkowski. “When my grandfather started this business in the 1940’s, the company was primarily serving the painting industry. Over the years we have been fortunate enough to expand our services to contractors and homeowners throughout the Tri-State area.”
However, a turning point for the company came in 1987, when CBS Sports approached Scaffolding Towers of America with a request for scaffolding design services at the major golf tournaments the network covers. “For CBS we provide scaffolding for camera towers and broadcast booths at each golf event, as well as any other platforms or flooring they may require,” said Kruchkowski. “It’s an extensive operation that is very labor intensive and requires intricate logistics. It requires us to survey each golf course to get an understanding of the event’s needs and determine the best locations for towers, ship several truckloads of materials to the site, install the scaffolding and then break it down when the golf tournament is over.”
The company manages all of the freight internally, relying on two drivers and two tractor trailers to transport the scaffolding to each event. Usually it takes a crew of five to six employees anywhere from seven to 10 days to set up before the event. In addition to camera towers, STA’s golf offerings include specialty studios, flooring, scoreboard platforms, RF towers and more.
Despite the longevity and the success the company has enjoyed throughout its history, two years ago Kruchkowski found it challenging to refinance equipment due to the fact that it is not warehoused in one location, but rather, is continually transported from event to event across the country. Thanks to Unity Bank, a U.S. Small Business Administration Preferred Lender, Kruchkowski was able to secure four SBA-backed loans from the bank totaling over 1 million dollars. These loans helped with refinancing equipment, the purchase of two new tractor trailers and one forklift, and the purchase of inventory for a new product offering for the golf division.
“Sometimes all a small business needs is that infusion of capital that helps improve its cash flow,” said SBA New Jersey District Director Al Titone. “We value our partnership with Unity Bank, which provided the right amount of capital to Scaffolding Towers of America that has put them in a position for future growth.”
“We’re always looking for ideas and new product lines to help expand the business,” said Kruchkowski. “We believe that the sports and entertainment industry is where we could see the most growth.”
This year, STA will be offering its golf clients an exciting new product called RollTrack. This temporary aluminum roadway is laid over parts of the golf course to protect the turf during tournament set up and takedown. RollTrack is a great way to prevent damage to the ground potentially caused by trucks and forklifts, and can quickly and easily be rolled out and moved throughout the course as needed. In addition to its golf clients, STA will be targeting special events and festivals, etc., that may also benefit from a ground protection product such as RollTrack.
Today, Scaffolding Towers of America employs between 15 and 25 employees and works with several broadcast clients such as Turner Broadcasting, Golf Channel, PGA Tour Entertainment and Sky Sports. Over the years, STA has worked at such prestigious events as The Super Bowl, The NCAA Final Four, MLB World Series, and The PGA Championship, and has had the opportunity to work throughout the U.S., Canada, Hawaii and the Bahamas. But the CBS golf schedule allows for at least one local event each year for STA, as The Barclay’s takes place in their backyard. This year, it will be played at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, NJ, from August 25-30, 2015.
“We also see the construction industry coming back and that certainly is welcome news for our business,” said Kruchkowski. “On the construction side we provide scaffold frames, rolling towers, stair towers, baker scaffolding, plank and platforms, all of which are OSHA compliant.”
“Scaffolding is a lot like an Erector Set, we get to design and put all the pieces together until we have the structure we need and we have fun doing it,” said Kruchkowski. “I have a devoted staff that works hard. When it all comes together, it is an amazing accomplishment, considering the time constraints we are under. We have to get it perfect.”
It’s what makes Fran, her son and the entire team at Scaffolding Towers of America a towering success.