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Bird’s-eye view Scaffolding Towers of America, with fourth generation aboard, moves further into niche markets

Fran Kruchkowski, owner, Scaffolding Towers of America.-(AARON HOUSTON)

With each generation, Middlesex-based Scaffolding Towers of America has become more niche.What started off as a painting company in 1944 is now a provider of designs of scaffolding equipment primarily for the entertainment industry. A significant segment of its business is building scaffold studios and camera towers specifically for national golf broadcasts.

But becoming the most niche of niche businesses might have kept the business alive, explained Fran Kruchkowski, the third-generation owner.

“There were more scaffolding companies before the recession, but (due to the downturn) a majority went under and we’re one of the only ones here now,” she said. “We weathered it by having clients in entertainment — and that goes on no matter what.”

Instead of focusing solely on the construction or residential sales that are par for the course in the industry, Scaffolding Towers of America rents and sells equipment such as scoreboard platforms for PGA Tour events. Its equipment has even been featured in the World Series and the Super Bowl.

The opportunity presented itself when Kruchkowski’s father was contacted by CBS for some work in the late ’80s. The company still offers its services to CBS Sports as well as the Golf Channel, NBC and some other broadcasting companies.

Kruchkowski has overseen the company’s expansion into offering different products to these clients and others. She has spearheaded the business for more than 30 years, operating in an industry that doesn’t have a lot of women represented in top spots.

“I don’t know it to be a fact, but, as far as I’ve been told, I’m the only woman-owned business around here in this industry,” she said. “It does come with a set of challenges. When you’re dealing with men in construction, until they realize you know what you’re talking about, there’s always a little bit of a problem. They’d rather talk to a man at first. But once I ask them a question that even they don’t know the answer to, then they’re very willing to talk to me.”

While still being a force behind the scenes, Kruchkowski has pulled back some as the subsequent generation of her family business — her son, Jeffrey Kruchkowski, and daughter, Michele Cooper — starts to take on responsibilities for the company.

Her son started at a young age, just as she did. Meanwhile, her daughter worked for around a decade in the golf industry doing public relations and marketing work before coming to work at the company four years ago. Peculiar as social media marketing might be for a scaffolding company, Cooper’s skillset has been a nice addition to the company, given its entertainment emphasis.

Kruchkowski isn’t ready to step down from her position and totally transition the business to the fourth generation yet. For now, she’s just glad to have them on hand.

“I love having my children here because I can be free to do personal things if I want to and I can trust them to pick up where I’m not,” she said.

Being a family-centric business comes with many perks, as Kruchkowski’s daughter elaborated on.

“One of the benefits that I see in us being a family company is that we all have the same goal,” Cooper said. “We’re like-minded in our dedication to providing clients providing awesome service. Of course, the three of us can’t do everything, so we have employees here that share that same mentality.”

Brett Johnson

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