Safway Inc. provides scaffolding and more to venues, events, developments nationwide

By Stephanie S. Beecher - Special to The Freeman

Dec. 3, 2015

Waukesha-based Safway Inc. has provided scaffolding for many governmental projects, including Milwaukee City Hall.
Submitted photo

WAUKESHA — For most Waukesha County residents, the name “Safway Inc.” simply doesn’t ring a bell. But, while locals may not have heard of the corporation, they are sure to recognize more than a few of the places it has been.

Safway Inc. is a major force behind the scenes. Admittedly tight-lipped (often due to the nature of its government contracts), the company provides its services to concert venues, movie sets and major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl.

“I know for sure people don’t even know the company,” said Karla Cuculi, vice president of communications and branding. “But we’ve actually had pretty phenomenal growth.”

Headquartered in Waukesha, the $1.4 billion private corporation is the largest scaffold and access company in North America. It employs nearly 10,000 people across 110 locations, including about 200 people locally between its headquarters and its West Allis branch.

Submitted photo

In addition to scaffolding, the company provides insulation and fireproofing, and surface preparation services to places such as small businesses, all the way up to iconic national landmarks, including Madison Square Garden, Wrigley Field and the Golden State Bridge. It continues to have a niche in historical renovations.

Currently, the company has ongoing projects both at the Wisconsin State Capitol, as well as the U.S. Capitol buildings.

At the State Capitol, Safeway has installed nearly 40,000 pounds of scaffolding to aid the Capitol’s restoration efforts — a project that had to be brought in with a 240-ton crane and which took more than two weeks to erect.

As with many historical renovations, the project presented its challenges. For example, the scaffolding had to be built on an angle to avoid placing weight onto the capitol’s exterior dome, said Branwyn Rhodes, Safway content development manager.

The U.S. Capitol dome is seen under repair on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Associated Press

The company’s footprint in historical renovations was featured earlier this year when the National Building Museum presented an exhibit that highlighted its work at the Washington Monument and the Washington National Cathedral.

The exhibition “Scaling Washington” showed photographs taken by Colin Winterbottom following post-earthquake repairs. A description included in the exhibit pointed to the artistic nature of scaffolding, taking it “from an industrial eyesore into a geometrically complex set of rhythms that accentuate the architecture.”

Surely, art wasn’t on the mind of company founder Reinhold Ueker in 1936, when the Milwaukee worker invented the first steel scaffolding system. Yet, following his solution to wood platforms, the company has gone on to help restore or repair many revered buildings.

Locally, Safway played its part in projects at the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Johnson Control Headquarters, and Milwaukee City Hall.

It is also providing scaffolding during construction at the downtown Milwaukee Northwestern Mutual Life building, the company added.