Securing The Shot
Scaffolding Towers of America supports sports broadcasts with long-standing stability
From the fairways to the greens, anyone watching a PGA Tour event can see the handiwork of Scaffolding Towers of America, LLC (STA). The Middlesex, New Jersey-based company has been building scaffolding camera towers for one of the leading sports broadcasting networks for more than 30 years.
STA also builds scoreboard platforms, flooring, staging and other products for major sporting events such as the PGA Championship, the Super Bowl, the NCAA Final Four, the Major League Baseball World Series and more.
Led by Fran Kruchkowski, STA is a leading distributor of scaffolding and components manufactured by Bil-Jax, Layher and A-1 Scaffolding, Mfg., Inc. STA specializes in providing scaffolding rentals, sales and design services to customers nationwide. The company also rents, sells and installs scaffolding for jobs of all sizes, providing scaffolding services for both contractors and homeowners throughout the tri-state area. STA also carries Werner ladders, pump jacks and picks.
STA is a family-operated company and has been since Fran’s grandfather, Frank Deluccia Sr., started a painting company in the 1940s. Within the next decade, he added Bil-Jax scaffolding to the company’s services.
Contractors can rent the scaffolding and install it themselves or STA can put it up for them. “We are one of the few companies in the area that does the rental. Most companies do the rental and installation only. If a homeowner wants to come in and rent the scaffolding, we will rent it to them,” Fran says. “We have a reputation for being one of the safest, most knowledgeable and most reliable companies in the scaffolding industry.”
Fran started working for her grandfather, cleaning floors when she was just 8. After that, she was working for her father, Eugene Deluccia Sr. She worked at a bank for a short time after high school before she joined the company as a bookkeeper at her dad’s request. “I’ve been there ever since,” she says.
She has been running the company for over 40 years and works now with her own adult children, Jeffrey Kruchkowski Jr., who is the Director of Golf Operations, and her daughter, Michele Cooper, who is the Operations Manager.
“My father used to tell me that you’re never too old to learn something new. It was something his father said to him, too, and it’s something I have repeated to my own children,” Fran says. “We really operate by the Golden Rule of treating others as you’d like to be treated. That’s how our business has grown. We are a Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) certified by the state of New Jersey to help our clients when that is important to them.”
Hitting the Course
In 1987, Fran got the call that would change STA’s course. A major sports broadcasting network reached out after seeing some of the company’s work on some condos in Long Branch, New Jersey. “We had done some scaffolding and tarps for that project, and it led to the start of our entertainment branch. Now, about 65% of our business is entertainment and 35% is contractors and homeowners,” she recalls.
The broadcast company needed scaffolding for camera towers for its golf broadcasts. “They used wood scaffolding at the time, but wanted something that would allow for steadier camera shots,” Fran says.
To provide steadier scaffolding for the cameras, STA used Systems Scaffold, which allows for easy adaptation to any kind of terrain, Fran says. “We can build a camera tower on any type of ground from hills to grass or even in water. It is like a big erector set that allows us to build what we need at each of the various locations,” she says. “We also do this for scoreboards and towers for antennas.”
Setup for these sports events can be time-consuming. For the PGA Championship, which took place in May at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course in Farmingdale, New York, STA setup began about five weeks before. “We started setup in early to mid-April this year, which, in the Northeast can be challenging with the weather,” Michele says. “Our team successfully completed setup, having to work in the rain for 23 out of the 29 days they were there. The weather can become a huge factor in our line of work, and the fact that we can still maintain our high level of service despite adverse conditions is just another example of how STA will never let down a customer.”
Jeffrey is an innovator in the industry, too, Fran says. When the golf tournaments changed from wood to metal scaffolding with the Systems Scaffold, Jeffrey went one step further and developed an internal camera on its own tower within the studio to get shots without shaking. “Jeffrey has reinforced STA’s reputation as an innovator in the scaffold camera tower industry,” Fran says. This allows the talent and crew to move about freely in other parts of the tower while also ensuring that the cameraman gets a smooth, steady shot.
“The network was thrilled that we would take the initiative to do these things and set it up without any additional hassles for them,” Fran says. “Plus, as landscaping changes as bushes get bigger and trees grow, we have to change the size of these towers and adjust to help get the shot that they want. When we finish setting up, they can be ready to go. They trust Jeffrey and the rest of the team to know what they want.”
In addition to this longstanding relationship with the network, STA’s role at each golf event has expanded to include more projects, such as scoreboards and even installing flooring in some tents and other facilities.
Logistical Challenges Solved
Getting from headquarters in New Jersey to contracted events is a big part of the process, Fran says, with complex logistics to get materials and work crews from one location to another.
“We own our own tractor-trailers that convey the equipment to the event sites,” Fran says. “We have about four or five crews at any given time getting everything to a work site. There is a lot of planning to make sure the crews have everything they need, from forklifts to the materials. There are the everyday installations, and then some of the locations may take five to seven days to get there, then the setup, and the crew goes to another site until they have to return to dismantle the scaffolding and move it to another location.”
Fran says that getting the right teams together can be a challenge, but she often finds employees on recommendations from current staffers. STA has many employees who have been working for the company from 10 to 30 years. The installation crews are led by Jeffrey, who has been working at STA for more than 30 years.
“Our crews are extraordinary,” Fran says. “Once, we had a crash in Michigan en route to an event, and, while it wasn’t our fault, we couldn’t use that equipment. So, the team here at the warehouse in New Jersey worked around the clock to get another set of equipment from our yard to Michigan in a private truck. We have never let a client down.”
She says much of the event business is seasonal, from January to August. In the offseason, the team checks the equipment and prepares for the following season’s events. And it is a lot of equipment. For instance, STA owns 14 tractor-trailer loads of steel for the golf division alone.
The business has recently added a new service line of ladders and pump jacks for sale, and Fran says she would like the commercial side of the business to grow more. The company also has a warehouse full of equipment for sale or rent by contractors and homeowners who need something immediately or to reserve in advance.
STA also believes in supporting the community. After Hurricane Sandy, STA was involved in a program to help rebuild the dunes. The company donated a truck and manpower to collect and deliver Christmas trees to the Jersey Shore. These trees were added to sand dunes to help trap sand and rebuild the dunes. In addition, STA got involved with the Sandy Castle Foundation, which was attempting to beat the current record recognized by the Guinness World Records for building the world’s tallest sand castle. “We even helped build a sandcastle on the shore in New Jersey right after the hurricane to help raise money for relief. We provided scaffolding and volunteered time to help with the project. We’ve helped with local schools when it’s appropriate. It’s important to us to be a part of the community,” Fran adds.
Each year during the holiday season, Fran, Michele and family members bake about 17,000 Christmas cookies to hand out to family, friends, customers and usually one charitable group, such as a military group, local food bank or church. “We get together with my two sisters and all of our kids and spend a few weeks every December doing this. We have always baked cookies for others since I was about 8, and then each year it has gotten bigger and bigger. In 2018, we beat another record with 17,539 cookies,” Michele says.
Supporting the community and its clients is the guiding focus of STA, Fran says. “We will never let down a customer. We plan for success and any challenges that may come up. We have never planned a job and failed. That has never happened, and we don’t believe it ever will.”