Scaling New Heights in the Wind Industry
Sky Climber Wind Solutions
Sky Climber Wind Solutions was set up in 2005 as a dedicated solutions provider for the burgeoning wind industry. The company has an industry-leading parent company in Sky Climber, a global player in manufacturing suspended access equipment used for working at extreme heights.
Sky Climber Wind Solutions’ parent company Sky Climber delivers products and services to many industries that need suspended access or work-at-height solutions and has been manufacturing the necessary equipment for that work since 1955. “Sky Climber distributes suspended access solutions into over seventy different countries and work with a number of companies that deliver services to commercial and industrial markets,” says Chad DiFranco, Vice President of Sales & Marketing.
“Sky Climber also has a presence in the telecom industry. Sky Climber Tower Solutions serves the industry’s largest tower manufacturers with turn-key structural services. So there are several industries that we support through our various companies.”
Instead of offering wind solution services as part of the Sky Climber portfolio, the decision was taken to set up a dedicated wind solutions company. It made sense for the company to branch out due to the unique aspects of the wind energy market.
“The reason for the differentiation is that Sky Climber, at its core, is a manufacturer of suspended access equipment. It is one of the leading businesses in the industry. The wind business is really unique in that it is a specific scope of work. It has really specific safety requirements, access requirements. The application is completely different, so creating that focus for the wind industry made a lot of sense because we needed to ensure that we were following through on certain parameters that were important to that specific market.”
At inception, the company focused on providing equipment, but it soon became apparent that it could grow into a much more comprehensive provider for its customers. “Now equipment is almost an afterthought as it is more about the services that we deliver into the market. We are the only service provider that also manufactures that equipment on the back end through our parent company. This gives us a unique advantage because we have less people in the chain of commerce, so customers are really taking advantage of a truly turn-key solution.”
Entering into a new market can be problematic. Finding sources of skilled employees coupled with the time and dedication required to build a brand can leave a company facing an uphill battle before it has even begun. Using an existing pool of skilled workers can be an invaluable resource that, thankfully, Sky Climber Wind Solutions had at its disposal via its parent company.
While Sky Climber Wind Solutions first used the in-house skills of its parent, it has since increased its staff to ensure the required expertise is on the team. “Initially, we leveraged the experience we already had on the team. Developing out that business and really starting to deliver services, we did that organically and really hired strategically that helped to develop the competencies that we wanted to offer. It really was a combination.”
The company undertakes work in rural areas, and it requires a special set of skills to complete it. The company was set up well to support the customers with what they needed and able to minimize the set of challenges that are usually faced by a start-up.
“The advantage that we had is, unlike most companies that exist in wind today which are maybe five to ten years old, we were leveraging a company that has been delivering services to similar industries for over sixty years. Processes and procedures around working at height were common and established. Really it was just about modifying those to support the wind industry.”
The company has a very clear view of the reasons behind its continued success and growth. Having spent so long working at height, the company was strategically placed to work with its customers to provide the exact level of support and services needed. “The biggest thing is that we have a very loyal customer base. They were very open about what they needed and how we could help them to achieve their operational goals and what makes us a little bit different is that we are a privately held company.”
It created a demand in the industry for its services and then evolved. “We didn’t respond to the wind industry boom; we have been here for a long time. When wind really became a growing industry, we were able to understand their needs and develop that as it grew.”
Some of the products and services Sky Climber Wind Solutions offer are an extension of those of the parent company, however, there are certain areas of professional expertise which are specific to Wind Solutions.
“You could carve up the wind industry into four categories of maintenance: mechanical or electrical maintenance – which is basically scheduled or unscheduled services; blade related services; minor or major correctives such as new installations or blade change outs; finally, you have miscellaneous work such as tower painting. We have done a really good job at getting the right talent on our team that can specialize in these areas.”
“When a customer requests something, we have someone that has a great amount of experience in that area of service. Today, we have more than one hundred years of [combined] expertise in all of the critical areas of maintenance. What has become common knowledge in the industry, we have staffed experts on the team that can deliver services for those areas.”
The reasons for the growth of the industry, in general, are many, but Sky Climber Wind Solutions feels that it was perfectly placed to capitalize on this growth. “There are certainly investment opportunities for companies to get involved in the industry, coupled with the political and tax advantages that go along with it. There are a number of angles as to why the industry makes sense. From our side, it is a natural extension of what we have always been doing for decades.”
Another benefit arising from having such a developed parent company is the ability to use established strategies and processes, particularly in the area of safety. “As a young industry, it was struggling to meet the required standards for training. Some of those standards have rolled over from other industries such as first aid and CPR training. What has changed in the last few years is that specific certification has become a way of standardizing the training so that customers know you are up to standards.”
Looking forward, Sky Climber Wind Solutions foresees growth in existing industries and will continue to provide its existing levels of excellence while assisting its customers to meet their requirements.
“The natural progression would be to expand in the market that we are in. I think that there is plenty of growth within North America,” he says. There is also huge potential in Europe or emerging markets like Latin America and Central America. “What we see, as a natural progression, is taking the talent that we have – you can’t buy that – and helping our customers expand into those markets.”