Sitting down with Signorelli: COO of the Lomma Companies

Frankie Signorelli, COO, J.F. Lomma Inc. and New York Crane

Looking back on his career, Frankie Signorelli knows that he learned from the best.

“I was blessed to be mentored for decades by James F. Lomma, who had confidence in my abilities and gave me increasing responsibility as the years progressed,” said Signorelli, who is chief operating officer of J.F. Lomma Inc. and New York Crane & Equipment Corporation, based in South Kearny, New Jersey.

Signorelli has worked in the construction and crane business all of his working life, starting at J.F. Lomma Inc. in 1989 as a parts and mechanics assistant. He worked his way up to maintenance manager and then rigger/erector for crawler and tower cranes. He earned his Master Rigger license in 2001.

“We were all shocked when Jimmy passed away in July of 2019,” Signorelli said. “I was honored to be named COO of all Lomma companies, and I embraced the challenge to honor Jimmy’s legacy and move the Lomma Companies forward into the future.”

Moving forward

The scope of his responsibility is tremendously broad, including client and potential client contact, operational details, various layers of administration and personnel management decisions.

“Working for Jimmy Lomma for 30 years has helped me prepare for this task,” he said.

It has been five years since James Lomma passed away, and the crane industry has weathered significant challenges during that time. The change of leadership evolved seamlessly, likely because Lomma’s management team was so well versed and intensely knowledgeable of the business.

“The transition has proven to be a challenging one, but this is true at any time in any business,” Signorelli said. “Companies always have to change and adapt or they will perish, and we have never rested upon our laurels at the Lomma Companies. We are committed to our clients and to do what we have done well for decades.”

Much like Lomma, Signorelli is affable, genuine and easy going. He runs the business with a keen acumen of having experience and know-how in every area of the company. And he loves the crane business, through and through.

“I love the culture at the Lomma Companies,” he said. “There is a great sense of loyalty, respect and I would even say family. We hire good people and work together as a productive unit toward the same goals. When Jimmy Lomma passed, and we were temporarily leaderless, there wasn’t an exodus from the company because our foundations were so strong.”

The Lomma Companies embrace infrastructure jobs because these types of public works are a demonstration of the vitality of society. COO Frankie Signorelli said there is a great satisfaction that comes from building things that will potentially last for generations.

In between a business trip and attending his daughter’s college graduation, he answered our questions about what it takes to run the Lomma Companies. I think you will be interested in his thoughtful and sincere perspective.

Besides operating the New York area, what are the biggest obstacles to running a crane business in today’s environment?

We face many different obstacles in today’s environment, but our biggest obstacle would be working against Mother Nature when hired to do a job because the weather is so unpredictable. Nonetheless, safety and quality of service at all times are our top priorities.

I would also add that obstacles are a frame of mind. As is the case with anything else, if you search for obstacles and anticipate allowing yourself to be thwarted by their presence, you are going to find them in abundance. Where other competitors see obstacles, we see opportunities to demonstrate to our customers our formidable skillsets and troubleshooting abilities.

How do you characterize the market for crane rental and specialized transportation services in the market that you serve?

The services that we provide will always be needed as long as buildings need to be constructed. I do not envision seeing any AI crane operators at any time in the immediate future. These are jobs that still have to be done by real people operating machines. We obviously get more business when the economy is strong, but so does everyone else. We have more and stronger competitors in the regions that we operate than we did years ago, but this simply means that we have to step up our game and demonstrate to our customers and potential customers, who have a choice, to do business with us.

You have been in the crane sector for 35 years. What has kept you engaged?

I love what I do. I have to, for what it demands of me personally. There is a tremendous personal satisfaction that comes from developing and honing your skills, and putting them into practice on a daily basis, with confidence and authority. I have put my heart and soul into the business, and I am proud of its successes.

The Lomma Companies have taken part in many world-renown projects, including lifting and setting the spire on the Freedom Tower and lifting the Space Shuttle Discovery.

What would you say distinguishes J.F. Lomma/Lomma Cranes/New York Crane in the markets that it serves?

We serve many markets and have done so since the company was founded in 1972. We have thrived and endured through countless market and political transitions, and there is a reason for that. Our collective skill and knowledge allow us to perform important jobs that other companies would shy away from. We have the experience and expertise to perform countless and diverse tasks, which is a fun part of the job. We never know what we are going to be asked to do.

We are constantly adapting to new circumstances, and our skill and flexibility are our strengths. We were at Ground Zero on 9/11, driving in when everyone else was going out, and we stayed there a long time. In addition to countless construction jobs on the New York skyline, we have done work for NASA with the Space Shuttle, rigged tight rope wires for Nick Wallenda (one of the famous “flying Wallendas”), lifted giant pumpkins at festivals in Pennsylvania, you name it. Every day is different, and we welcome its challenges.

Do you think that the regulatory environment in New York has gotten better, worse or pretty much stayed the same?

The same. Our relationship with regulatory agencies in New York is not adversarial. We consider ourselves in partnership with regulatory agencies, because we share the same goals and are both accountable to the public to make our operations as safe as possible.

Do you envision more infrastructure jobs coming online? What are the leading jobs in your market these days?

We love working on infrastructure jobs because these types of public works are a demonstration of the vitality of our society. We all need infrastructure as a public good that benefits everybody, and it is great and satisfying work for us professionally at J.F. Lomma Inc. and New York Crane. Whether we get more of this type of work is dependent in large part upon how the economy is doing and how the political winds are blowing, over which we have no control. But this type of work is always great to work on. There is a great satisfaction that comes with building things that will potentially last for generations.

The leading jobs in our market today are in constant flux, but I would presently say that the steel erection of buildings, building new bridges, wind farm projects, and building compressor stations for oil and gas extraction are particularly hot and active markets.

What do you like to do when you are not working?

I do not have a lot of free time these days, but I recognize that self-care is important. I am blessed to have a son and a daughter, both of whom are pursuing different paths to success in the world. They enrich my life every day, and I cannot imagine my own life without them in it.

Simple pleasures, however fleeting, are also an important method of rejuvenation. I enjoy going to sporting and other events with my son, having dinners and socializing with friends and clients, and following professional sports.


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