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BOSS Crane outgrows 2-year-old headquarters, sets sights on expansion

By Ken Hedler
Aug. 26, 2017 at 11 p.m.

President David Cowley and CEO David Lowry of BOSS Crane and Rigging speak about the company and its move to a new facility at 5533 South FM 2087 on Wednesday August 23, 2017. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

Three years ago, David Cowley retired at age 54 as an executive vice president with TNT Crane & Rigging after 33 years in the rigging business.

He wasn't retired for long. He now heads a fast-growing company, BOSS Crane & Rigging, which provides equipment and operators for the oil and gas industry, wind energy, paper mills, mining and other industries.

Cowley, whose name is pronounced coo-lee, said he has been best friends for about 14 years with David Lowry, CEO of 10 subsidiaries of Bennett International Group, which Lowry's mother, Marcia Taylor, founded in 1974. While fishing in Mexico, the two men came up with an idea for a new business venture, Cowley recalled.

"We always talked about doing something together," he said.

They settled on launching a crane, rigging and transportation company because "transportation and cranes kind of tied together."

Said Lowry: "He talked me into it."

The name of the company, BOSS, is an acronym for Bennett On-Site Services LLC.

Based at the former digs of Turner Brothers Crane & Rigging at 5533 S. FM 2087 in unincorporated Longview, Cowley said he started BOSS Crane in January 2015 with himself as the sole employee and one crane.

Since then, it has grown to consist of 157 employees, 68 trucks and 34 cranes. It also has opened offices in Harleton, Palestine and Beeville.

Hiring the right people with experience in the industry has stimulated the growth despite a market downturn in the oil and gas industry the past few years, according to Cowley. With the start of an industry upswing, BOSS is readying for more growth.

Most of the company's jobs are for riggers and truck drivers, with some handling both tasks. They work on projects throughout Texas and from New Mexico to Iowa. Annual payroll is $7 million.

The past few years' growth has pushed BOSS to outgrow its 10-acre leased site, so it bought the former Trican pressure pumping company property at 4836 Loop 281, next to Norris Cylinders. BOSS Crane plans to move to the 16-acre site in mid-September.

"This is a nice facility for our growth," Cowley said. He cited its proximity to a railroad spur that would enable BOSS Crane to ship "anything that is big and heavy," including transformers.

He declined to disclose the sale price for the property, which the Gregg County Appraisal District had valued at $1.25 million.

He said BOSS Crane is investing more than $250,000 in renovating buildings at the site before the move.

"We put in a new roof at the shop," Cowley said, adding workers poured concrete, painted and are doing work on walls and flooring in the office and shop area in back of the property.

About 80 employees will work out of the location.

The new site also will enable the company to expand trucking work in the area and provide more room to store rigs and other equipment, said Lowry.

Both Lowry and Cowley said they envision continuing growth.

"We plan to grow big by the end of the year, to more than 200 employees," Cowley said. He added BOSS Crane plans to create a transportation company that will haul for hire.

Growth suits company Controller Robert Belt, who started at BOSS Crane more than a year ago after working five years locally with a rail company.

"This company is about creating jobs, and my interest is in staying here locally and helping to grow the company," Belt said.

Cowley, who started in the business sweeping floors at age 21 at Johnston Crane & Rigging, said the company's jobs generally pay from $15 to $34 an hour and include medical, dental and other benefits.

He advised prospective employees to apply online at www.bosscrane.com.

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