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INTERVIEW: Crofton Industries
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INTERVIEW: Crofton Industries

Pile Buck’s interview with Crofton Industries, a premier commercial diving, marine construction, and equipment / crane rental company based out of Virginia.

PB: How did Crofton Industries get started?

CI: After founder, Juan Crofton, lost his football scholarship at Duke University in December 1941 because of the war, he took a job at Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock. By June 1942, he made his first dive on the No. 6 shipway. In 1949, he started his own commercial diving company with friend and fellow diver, Duke Morris. They named it Crofton and Morris Divers. In 1951, they bought a wooden Navy vessel and christened it the Cromo. Mr. Crofton had quite a journey leading up to starting a business. Readers can learn more about his story in a feature article by Timothy Thompson in the Chesapeakeville.

PB: The Cromo is a significant company artifact, right?

CI: The Cromo was a working dive vessel for decades. All three of Juan Crofton’s sons, and many other divers at Crofton, learned the trade off the deck of the Cromo. She’s well known around the harbor and a symbol to us of our values and where we’ve come from.


PB: When did Crofton and Morris Diving become Crofton Industries?

CI: Duke Morris decided to leave the diving business in 1968 and that’s when it became Crofton Diving Corporation. Ultimately, we evolved into Crofton Industries when the name Crofton Diving no longer conveyed the robust portfolio of solutions we were providing. Today, we continue to offer commercial diving services, but we also provide heavy marine construction, crane rental and rigging, and barge and tug rental services.

PB: Tell us about your facility.

CI: We have operated out of a 9-acre waterfront property in Portsmouth, VA—right on the Scott’s Creek along the Elizabeth River since 1986. It’s home to all our administrative offices, vessels, machinery, materials, and heavy equipment. There are multiple warehouses for shipping and receiving, welding and fabrication, and space to provide full-service repairs and maintenance to our diversified equipment; including a brand new 15,800 square foot facility we completed in 2021.

PB: What industries do you serve?

CI: We serve clients in shipbuilding & repair, civil engineering, construction, maritime, utility, and energy industries, as well as state and local municipalities. Ultimately, our work revolves around supporting our nation’s infrastructure.

PB: Tell us more about your work in hydropower.

CI: We’ve been supporting hydropower generation and distribution facilities for decades by providing inspection, repair, rehabilitation, and decommissioning services above and below the waterline. Experience as a marine contractor gives us a unique perspective that yields practical solutions for our clients and their facilities. This spring, we will complete a full decommissioning of a hydro-generation facility in South Carolina. One of the most unique projects to date was one in which a 100’ deep reusable cofferdam was designed and used to perform a dam intake structure rehabilitation, which we have a case study video of on our YouTube channel if your readers would like to see it in action.

PB: Tell us about the crane rental side of the business.

CI: We maintain a premium fleet of rental equipment, not just cranes, ranging from barges and tugs to marsh buggies and manlifts, mobile cranes and floating cranes. Our mobile crane fleet serves local industries like ship repair and shipbuilding, as well as the construction industry by lifting things like commercial HVAC units and tilt up panels. Crofton’s floating cranes serve our local industries and projects as well but also provide heavy lift support up and down the east coast. For example, our 600-ton 4600 Manitowoc Ringer completed its service on the demolition and replacement of the Bonner Bridge in North Carolina and subsequently went on to provide support to another bridge replacement project in Boston, Massachusetts. And our newly assembled barge mounted 300-ton 4100 Ringer is currently supporting the HRBT Expansion Project in Hampton Roads, Virginia.

PB: Can you give us an example of a project that is quintessential Crofton Industries?

CI: The project that immediately comes to mind is the salvage of 16 concrete piles in Cape Charles, VA. It really put the comprehensive nature of our services on display, bringing many resources together to provide a solution in a high stakes environment. The project was highly collaborative, involving many stakeholders. Safety and risk were another big factor here. Each pile that was removed presented a new challenge and had to be assessed individually. We were so pleased with how everything turned out. Our team really took an all-hands-on-deck approach and successfully and (most importantly) safely executed a complex salvage operation.

PB: That’s a great segway. Can you talk a bit about your safety program?

CI: Absolutely. Safety is one of our core values. We want to make sure that every employee goes home to their families safe and sound at the end of the workday. As complex as our work is, when you become familiar with your environment, it can be easy to fall victim to complacency. But accidents happen when you least expect them and it’s critical to always stay vigilant. Our internal training program, regular site visits, daily safety briefs and JHAs are just some of the ways we try to keep safety top of mind.

PB: We understand Crofton Industries has several career opportunities.

CI: We do. We’re always looking for talented people to join our team. In particular, we’re currently seeking experienced crane operators, commercial divers, and project managers. Most positions require a TWIC card and a RAPIDGate credential. Interested candidates can complete an application and upload a resume right on our website. We have a wonderful benefits package for full-time employees, including health, dental, life insurance, 401k, and PTO.

What else do you want PB readers to know about Crofton Industries Company?

CI: We have over 70 years of experience working in and around the water. Our team is made up of experienced professionals who are committed to executing projects with the highest levels of safety, service, integrity, and innovation. The people here at Crofton, the dedication and passion each one of them displays every day, to the company and the customers, is what makes Crofton Industries successful.

How did Crofton Industries get started?

Crofton Industries started in 1949 when founder Juan Crofton, after losing his football scholarship, established Crofton and Morris Divers, a commercial diving company.

What industries does Crofton Industries serve?

Crofton Industries serves clients in shipbuilding & repair, civil engineering, construction, maritime, utility, energy industries, and state and local municipalities, focusing on supporting the nation's infrastructure.

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