As the premier provider of scaffolding and access equipment in the Southeastern United States, Associated Scaffolding Company, Inc., otherwise referred to as ASC, brings generations of experience as a full-service scaffolding rental, sales and installation provider.
Founded in 1947 as Associated Scaffolders and Equipment Company, ASC has been owned and operated by the Hawkins family since they purchased the company in 1968. First under the leadership of Gene Hawkins, the company continued to grow with every generation that came on board.
“In 1971, I graduated from college and I came on with my dad [Gene] and we ran the company. We changed the name, got out of the scaffold erection industry, and just rented scaffolding,” explained President Tommy Hawkins.
He continued, “As the years went on, there was a need to erect the scaffold that we rented to contractors. I started erecting as a side job at nighttime and on the weekends. I’d hire my friends and we’d go out and we’d erect the scaffolds.”
Gene retired in 1985 and at that time Tommy was joined by his brother-in-law, Rick Dement. Together they grew the business, once again adding scaffold installation and expanding the products and services offered, as well as its market reach. Tommy was also joined by his two sons, Brian, who serves as a manager and Jeff, who serves as the Durham branch manager. Rick’s nephew William Dement, who has been with the company for over 20 years, serves as the company’s sales manager. It seems like scaffolding and access equipment is in the Hawkins’ DNA.
Growing up in the company, Tommy, and later Jeff and Brian, learned the ropes and developed relationships with the team of employees, many of whom are still with the company today. ASC has grown from only four employees to over 150, growth that is also reflected in its fleet which has gone from only a few vehicles to 90 vehicles.
Last year, ASC celebrated a milestone 70 years in operation. Still headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, the company first took advantage of the growth taking place in the Raleigh-Durham area, and later established branches in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1998, Columbia, South Carolina in 2001, Richmond, Virginia in 2003, Knoxville, Tennessee in 2009, Raleigh, North Carolina in 2010 and Charlotte, NC 2018.
In addition to its various branches, ASC reaches national markets through its online sales platform, associated-scaffolding.com/store. Here you can find scaffolding and accessories, scaffold planks and stages, debris chutes, fall protection equipment, pump jacks and other tools, ladders, safety products, job site equipment, training classes and much more.
“Ninety-five percent of our products cater to contractors. We only have about five percent that serves the general public, residential side,” said Tommy. The company serves nearly 15,000 customers, many of whom are repeat customers with whom ASC has built long-term relationships throughout the decades.
ASC has a diverse inventory of equipment and a knowledgeable staff to support the rental, sale and installation of the products it carries, which include scaffolding, suspended scaffolding, access equipment, fall protection and safety products, trash chutes and everything in between to ensure customers have the right tools for the job.
“We want to offer as many products as a customer is going to need for their job site. We don’t want to be just a scaffold rental store: we want to offer them as much as possible. We feel that puts us ahead in terms of products and services for the customer,” Brian explained of its broad offerings.
“Four years ago, we added temporary jobsite fencing to our rental fleet. We’re constantly adding, and I would say that is one of our long-term goals: to continue to add rental products to our fleet as well as add retail items to keep up with the changing market,” said Jeff.
Further to being a one-stop shop for all things scaffolding and access equipment, ASC has also differentiated itself on the service side. “We’ve done jobs where we had to put scaffolding into water. We have certified SCUBA divers that have gone under water and built scaffold. That’s something unique that you don’t see very often,” noted Tommy.
Having this depth of expertise is the reason the company was selected for the Duke University chapel restoration project located on the university’s campus in Durham. The project required more than 487 tons of scaffolding and took over 20,000 labor hours, without a reportable safety incident. The chapel was built in 1932 for $2.2 million, the largest building permit of its kind at the time. The campus landmark rises 210 feet above the campus and boasts 77 stained glass windows and impressive architectural details, both inside and out.
ASC was selected by Romeo Guest Associates to undertake the project, which posed countless unique challenges. Two years of planning went into the project’s execution to ensure that the chapel would be restored with no changes to the original structure.
On the exterior of the project, ASC utilized system scaffolds with staging platforms, stair units and hoists, which were a challenge to anchor to the building without causing damage. The solution was to use compression ties to secure the 95-foot-high scaffolds. The exterior of the scaffolding was wrapped with blue debris netting as well as temporary lighting for added safety.
Another challenge the project posed was that there was no loading dock that could be used to bring in the thousands of pounds of materials required. ASC built custom ramps to protect the limestone steps leading to the chapel’s four-foot-wide entryway.
Frame scaffolding and a truss system was used on the interior. Due to the height of the 73 foot ceilings, a temporary ventilation and air conditioning system was installed at the top of the interior platform to control the humidity to protect the exquisite woodworking near the ceiling. The chapel also has three 40-foot-tall solid oak pipe organs that had to be taken into consideration. Scaffolding had to be carefully placed around each of the organs without damaging the over 6000 pipes.
Scaffolding for the belfry had to be carried through a three-foot door and over a pitched roof in order for ASC to build a platform over the bell tower, which has a base of 38 square feet. Scaffolding had to be placed precisely to not interfere with the 50 bell carillon.
The Duke University Chapel restoration project truly exhibited the product knowledge and expertise ASC brings to the table on projects of varying sizes and complexities. Not once was the safety of the workers or the integrity of the building compromised. For its exceptional work on the project, which received the Carolina Association of General Contractors (CAGC) 2016 Pinnacle Award for the Best Building Project – $5 million and over, Associated Scaffolding received a Pinnacle Partner award, a true source of pride for the company.
Indeed, ASC has been recognized by the construction industry, as well as the broader business community. Other awards it has received are the Durham Chamber of Commerce’s 2007 Business of the Year Award, and the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of the Carolina’s Safety Training Evaluation Program (STEP) Gold Award, an honor it received six out of seven years in a row.
Further to having the right tools for the job, ASC goes a step further to provide training to ensure that both customers and employees have the know-how to use the tools properly to optimize efficiency and safety on the job site. Associated Scaffolding is a Scaffold and Access Industry Association (SAIA) accredited training center that offers training classes to promote job site safety and compliance with OSHA standards. Training centers are located at its Durham, Raleigh and Knoxville branches.
Safety is always the priority at ASC. Safety officials conduct regular site visits to audit and evaluate jobsite safety, inspect scaffolds and make sure site workers go home safely at the end of each workday. “We have a safety director and two safety managers. We also have a safety committee that meets once a quarter. We also have a fifteen to twenty-minute session on safety every morning, as well as morning stretches,” explained Tommy.
Jeff also noted, “The safety training is for all employees including managers, salesmen, erectors, warehousemen, drivers; it involves everybody. This way we’re all on the same page and we’re all working toward the same goals. We’re all trained on our products as well as hazards in the workplace.”
Products and equipment that have been rented are closely inspected upon their return to ensure that there are no defects. If an issue is discovered, actions are taken to either repair or discard the product. “We have procedures for each product that we rent: how to inspect it, how to repair it, what our guys should be looking for. Even the boards we rent out, when they come back we clean them and test them,” said Jeff.
Its exemplary safety performance has asserted the company as an authority on the subject and as a result, ASC has been approached by long-time customers such as Precision Walls Inc., to provide scaffold erection and dismantling training, as well as the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) to film a training video for their website, proving it as a true partner in safety on and off the job site.
When asked what the future holds for Associated Scaffolding, Tommy, who is 67 years old, handed the question off to his sons to answer. Jeff responded, “The long term goal is to attract new customers and retain customers we’ve had for 70 years. We want to grow our business, open more branches and hire more skilled scaffold erectors.”
Under the next generation of family leadership, ASC will continue to expand its products and services as a full-service scaffolding company, growing its market reach where possible to increase the impact it can have optimizing safety on jobsites across the Southeastern United States, and supporting customers countrywide.