Building a family business to Great Heights
story and photos by michael prochaska
Climbing towers makes Jason Singleton feel alive, but death is always knocking at his door.
“It’s always in the back of your mind that if you make one mistake, it’s not like a broken finger or broken leg - it’s death.”
Singleton and his family at United Tower just completed a 250-foot guyed public safety tower in Buckhead that will connect an emergency services radio network between Walton and Oconee counties, but the project could benefit Morgan County as well. It has the potential to service up to four cell phone carriers.
While United Tower has served Morgan County with several projects, Singleton and his crew travel all over the Southeast placing each 20-foot, 1,000-plus pound steel beam unit on top of the next.
The highest tower built was 800 feet high, about 250 feet higher than the Washington Monument.
“I think I’ve always been just scared enough of heights,” Singleton said. “But as far as a terrifying scare, I’ve never had it.”
Several years ago, Singleton responded to a call in New Orleans, La. as part of Motorola’s Hurricane Recovery Team.
A city devastated by the mass flooding of Hurricane Katrina was completely without a public safety communication system.
His father, Tracy Singleton, has a motto: “make it happen,” and that’s exactly what the crew set out to do.
“We worked daylight and dark and into the night to get their public safety line working,” Singleton said.
United Tower also set the Doppler radar tower for WSB-TV in Atlanta, one of the most technologically advanced radars in the country.
Five years shy of the company’s 50th year in business, Singleton is soon to take the reins of a three-generation family enterprise, first started by his grandfather, William Singleton, in 1967.
“I grew up around the towers,” he said. “And I’ve always liked it because it’s something not a lot of people get to do … there’s something about seeing the accomplishment when you’re done with one – to just stand back and look at it.”
Singleton has two children himself, Wyatt, 4, and Jackson, 2.
He said that although he would like his children to continue the family tradition, there’s no doubt constructing towers is a perilous job.
Nevertheless, the company invests in top-of-the-line safety equipment, and it has certainly paid off. In United Tower’s history, there has never been an injury. Singleton said he hopes to always keep it that way.
Printed in the July 12, 2012 edition