David Cowley is President of BOSS Crane & Rigging (Bennett On-Site Services, LLC). In 2013, he left Turner Brothers Crane & Rigging after nearly 18 years, where he worked his way up to Executive Vice President.
Throughout his career he has served on many committees and the board of directors of the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association, including one term as Chairman. Learn more here about BOSS Crane & Rigging here and see below to read the full interview with Mr. Cowley.
Your personal story is one of hard work and perseverance… starting out as a yard hand journeying to your current position as president of BOSS Crane & Rigging. In addition, you recently received the J.D. Garrison company award for personal integrity and community service. Tell us who or what was instrumental in guiding your career.
My father told me to find a trade and stick with it. Learn it inside and out. Over the years I’ve had lots of mentors. When I was in the field, it might have been the crane operator, or a project superintendent, others with more experience. I spent 17 years with Turner Brothers and the Turner family, especially Jack, Sr., were mentors to me.
After Turner Brothers was acquired, I got lots of calls from other companies. But I really wanted to work for a family company. I’ve never seen another business that truly cares for its people like the Bennett Family of Companies does. Marcia Taylor (Owner) is an inspirational leader who leads by example and is guided by Christian values.
Every year Marcia chooses one person out of the 18 companies to receive the J.D. Garrison Award. It’s our company’s highest honor. I was surprised and deeply humbled to receive it.
You’ve spent many years serving in various leadership roles with the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association. How does this organization help your company be a leader in the crane and rigging market?
SC&RA gives us a way to meet other people in the industry. Over the years, it’s the people we’ve developed relationships with there, even competitors, who we turn to when we have a need or a challenge. The companies that get involved with SC&RA tend to be top-notch organizations and association meetings provide the venue to meet the top management of those organizations.
In fact, it was my friendship with David Lowry (CEO of Bennett Motor Express) that led to starting BOSS Crane & Rigging (Bennett On-Site Services, LLC) six years ago. We met each other at an SC&RA meeting 18 years ago. At various times during those years, we daydreamed about maybe someday starting a company together.
I’ll give you another example. As we were starting BOSS Crane we needed a 350-ton crawler crane. Jimmy Lomma was my friend. That relationship, built on trust and made possible through interactions at SC&RA, laid the ground work to strike a deal for getting that crawler crane. (Lomma, who was owner of several crane companies including J.F. Lomma Inc, TES Inc., and New York Crane, died in 2019.) Jimmy had just taken delivery of a brand new crane. He agreed to let us put it to work in Texas as long we kept it busy. We paid to transport it to Texas from the Northeast and he said he would pay to bring it back when we were done. Meanwhile, we’ve had that crane for four years now and it’s been working 10 months out of the year each of those years.
I’d rather be friends with my competition than enemies and SC&RA has made that possible.
Which DICA outrigger pads and crane pads does BOSS Crane & Rigging use and why did you select those products for your fleet?
I also learned about DICA and the benefits of their outrigger pads through SC&RA, which is another way SC&RA helps our company. We’ve got outrigger pads or crane pads for every crane in our fleet—from a 600-ton hydro to an 80-ton boom truck. We use steel mats for some of those cranes and DICA’s engineered pads for others, but we don’t use wood mats.
In my experience, it doesn’t matter which crane it is or where the crane is being setup, you always need some kind of additional load distribution.
The good thing about working with DICA is that I can tell them the crane make and model and they do the engineering to recommend what size and type of mat is best.
Your company’s slogan is Safety is Priority 1. What are the top best practices that contribute to your reputation as a safe company?
From Day 1 of starting BOSS, we were certified ISO 9001 for quality management processes. Second, we know that the boots on the ground are critical to our success. We support our employees by giving the riggers, operators, technicians, etc., the tools they need to succeed, whether that’s PPE, training, outrigger pads, etc. From the beginning, our primary concern is to keep our people safe and our equipment in top condition. After that, we’ll worry about making money.
You are one of the most patriotic people I know. In fact, Patriotism is one of the core values of BOSS Crane & Rigging. What’s your favorite way to show that you are proud to be an American?
Every September 11th, we raise our 18 ft. flag 400 feet in the air using our 500-ton AT crane in remembrance of the people who lost their lives on that day and to honor the first responders working in our community. Last year we served 384 hamburgers to Longview area and Gregg County police, firefighters, and other first responders.
As a company, we support the Wreaths Across America program, but the organization that is closest to my heart is Combat Warriors Inc. This national organization with an East Texas chapter gives active combat veterans positive outdoor hunting and fishing experiences. This past fall was the ninth year we took groups on these trips. There’s nothing that compares to sitting in a deer stand listening to one of these brave individuals share their stories.
From the Combat Warriors Inc., website: “We embrace the reality that no civilian can fully understand the trials and difficulties faced by our soldiers. But we know the healing power of a sunrise over Pamlico Sound, and a turkey’s wild hymn to the springtime woods.”