by Jon M. Casey
For Jennifer Sturm, owner and president of JT Sturm Corporation, the path to success has been an ongoing process since her teen years in high school. It was during the early days of her father Jay Sturm’s start in business as Cranes Aerial Truck Service in 2001 that she began to work part time while attending high school. This is when she began to acquire the skills and desire to build the family-owned business into what it has become today. The future looks especially bright as she begins to expand the operation that she purchased from her father in 2016, developing new ways to safely train her clients while updating the company’s online presence with ongoing improvements to their already-successful organization.
In a recent interview with Jennifer, Road had the opportunity to learn more about the recent transition of ownership and about the company’s past, present and future. “I began working with my dad when he first started the business and he was doing everything that needed to be done. His responsibilities included sales, doing third-party equipment safety inspections, bookkeeping, everything. At that time, in order to grow the business, I helped him by sending out mailers to potential clients. I eventually got involved in doing some of the sales calls for him and setting up safety inspections, so that he could be on the road more.”
“When I graduated from high school in 2004, I went to college and worked for him doing the administrative work,” she said.
“In 2006, we hired another inspector who is still with us today. We moved the business to Bellingham, MA in 2007 where we began training operators with our newly formed business, Crane Safety Institute.”
“I enjoyed working more with the training while Dad preferred the inspection side of the business, so we worked together on the marketing of both divisions while building the company structure. Over time, we took on more office staff and additional trainers as the company continued to grow.”
“As I worked side by side with him, I had opportunity to learn extensively about the entire business including federal regulations and safety procedures. A few years ago, Dad began to do accident investigations, and he found that to be an ideal career path for him. That was when we began to talk about my taking over the training and inspections while he focused on consulting. So, in 2016, we began the process for me to take over the business. In January 2017, I officially purchased Cranes 101, Cranes Aerial Truck Service and Cranes 101 Online, creating my own company, JT Sturm Corporation.” Meanwhile, Jay went into full-time consulting.
“This year, we have been implementing several new ideas and have brought in additional office staff and training managers to help organize the duties of the people to help make the business run more efficiently. We are now doing a lot more online training. We are developing ways to do reports online. We are working on a major project of developing an entire new database that will come to completion in 2018, which will allow our customers to log into their own portal to see their inspection reports and training records that will be archived there for their use.
They will receive inspection reminders through the portal; they will get training updates and scheduling reminders, all those things. That way, clients can be in regular contact on their computers and cell phones to have access to that information whenever they need it.”
Jennifer said she has noticed that there are a number of younger people getting into the construction industry ownership role, especially more young women owning businesses. “This year we teamed up with Debbie Dickinson of Crane Industry Services and Anna DeBattiste of the New England Crane School as a way to offer specialized training. Our industry is opening up to women, which makes the business climate more exciting, especially in the areas of safety. With their added experiences, we can expand our efforts in the realm of safety. We are pursuing federal training accreditation and our Certified Woman-owned business status is pending and due to be certified in 2018,” she added.
Sturm notes that she still has her mother and father to call upon for business advice on a daily basis, when needed. “The transition of ownership went as easily as it possibly could have. My mother Maria works in our human resources department while Dad is still in contact with his consulting work. With 20 employees working in our various enterprises, it is nice to have their experience to call upon,” she said.
Jennifer plans to increase the number of regional trainers throughout the US in the coming months. Right now, she employs eight trainers across the US including the addition of a woman trainer in Las Vegas, NV who is a certified crane operator trainer. She said they are acquiring new customers in the western states and she wants to have trainers in place who are closer to the customers and who can serve them more efficiently. Their most recent trainer who has come onboard is located in North Carolina.
“We will travel anywhere in the world if we are needed,” she said. “We will be traveling to the Virgin Islands to work with some clients who need inspections on equipment that is being used to help with the hurricane cleanup and construction work.” For more information on Cranes 101 or other services from JT Sturm Corporation., contact them at 866•788•7600 or online at www.cranes101.com.