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Jul 9, 2018 9:49 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

New Owners Named To Head Ben Krupinski’s Construction Firm

Stratton Schellinger and Ray Harden are the new owners of Ben Krupinski Builder. JD ALLEN
Jul 9, 2018 4:25 PM

Two longtime employees have taken over the Ben Krupinski Builder construction company after the loss of its founder, who was killed on June 2 when his private plane crashed into the ocean about a mile off Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett.

Ben Krupinski’s wife, Bonnie Krupinski, and their grandson, William Maerov, also died in the plane crash, as did the pilot, Jon Kenneth Dollard.

Stratton Schellinger of Sag Harbor and Ray Harden of East Hampton acquired the South Fork, New York and Connecticut luxury home builder in a private arrangement, as of June 30.

They worked up the ladder from construction to supervisory positions for Mr. Krupinski for 31 and 16 years, respectively, and the transition was set in motion after years of planning, they said Friday during an interview at the children’s wing of the East Hampton Library, which their late employer finished building in 2014, donating millions of dollars worth of labor for the project.

“The goal of this transition is to have as little change as possible,” Mr. Schellinger said. “Ben wanted the business to go on. We talked about this for years, and we want to deliver the same quality workmanship with the same aggressive and organized leadership that we always have had—but also looking for new, innovative ways to better our projects. That is what Ben always did, and we are going to carry that on.”

Mr. Schellinger started working with Mr. Krupinski right out of high school, after a few minor jobs in construction. “I remember the first day I went to work for Ben,” he recalled. “It was so organized and aggressive and full of energy. I knew this is where I wanted to be and this is who I wanted to learn from.”

Mr. Harden had worked for Mr. Krupinski under G.B.D. Builders, a former iteration of Mr. Krupinski’s building company, for a stint. Then Mr. Harden supplied Mr. Krupinski’s job sites for many years when he was the manager of Riverhead Building Supply. “I eventually wanted to be around and work with that man as much as possible, so I asked him about a job one day and the rest is history,” he added.

There are 150 carpenters among other contractors who work on projects for the building company, which has two offices on the South Fork, in Southampton and East Hampton, and an office in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, building luxury homes and completing renovation projects throughout New York and Connecticut.

Each job has one or two foremen and supervisors on site, too, which included Mr. Krupinski whenever possible.

“Ben was always about the customer,” Mr. Schellinger said. “He would visit every job, every day of the week. Saturday, Sunday—it didn’t matter. He would take Bonnie to a job site, and leave a voicemail at the front desk with notes for the supervisor.”

He and Mr. Harden would often spend their weekends on job sites, too, following their boss’s lead, he noted.

Mr. Harden recalled a time when Mr. Krupinski sent him to check a project during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 before he headed home for the day.

“It was getting pretty hairy out and it was kind of out of the way,” he said. “But I got there, and the property had a huge driveway down to the house and the water. The wind was howling—I mean howling. The house was fine, but when I was going to get out of there, a tree on the driveway started to blow over toward the driveway and fell the other way. Thank God it went the other way or I would have been stuck there until the spring when someone came to find me.”

All told, Mr. Harden said he would do it again in a heartbeat, and he said he has gone out of his way to visit every job site because it was what Mr. Krupinski would do.

“He always said, ‘We work. That’s just what we do,’” Mr. Harden recalled. “Attention to detail is a huge, huge thing. Ben was always about the details and making sure things were done correctly and on time. So, we want to continue to deliver that product. He instilled that in us, and we want to carry that forward.”

Since 1986, many of Mr. Krupinski’s building projects have become landmarks on the South Fork. He built the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, renovated Guild Hall in East Hampton, built the children’s wing of East Hampton Library, rebuilt Scoville Hall in Amagansett and restored the George Fowler House in Springs, in addition to building homes for musician Billy Joel, celebrity chef Martha Stewart and supermodel and businesswoman Christie Brinkley.

“Our clients want their privacy,” Mr. Schellinger said. “They don’t want people to know what they are doing and what they are building. We will do whatever it takes to keep that privacy, even if we have to put someone out front to keep someone from walking in. People seem to think that they are entitled to enter a property or a job site whenever they want It’s an ongoing and constant effort.”

When tackling what’s next for the company, Mr. Harden said that the goal is to finish up the scores of projects undertaken by Mr. Krupinski, which are at various stages of development. He also noted that a few more projects have been taken on since Mr. Krupinski’s death. Mr. Schellinger added that the firm hasn’t lost any clients or staff during the transition process.

“It’s truly business as usual,” he said.

Christopher Quinn will continue to be manage builds in Manhattan, Westchester and Connecticut. Justin Fulweiler will continue to manage builds in Southampton. Mr. Schellinger and Mr. Harden will operate out of the building company’s headquarters in East Hampton.

The hospitality businesses owned by Ben and Bonnie Krupinski, including East Hampton Point, The 1770 House and Cittanuova, will continue to be owned by the family or with partners, according to Suzee Foster, a spokeswoman for the family’s businesses.

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best of luck
By xtiego (668), bridgehampton on Jul 9, 18 7:40 PM
Where is the news here? This feels like drawing out a tragedy to fill ad space.
By SlimeAlive (1015), Southampton on Jul 10, 18 11:48 AM
The “news” here doesn’t affect you so I guess it no news for you. But to the many subcontractors and their families who depended on Bens pipeline of steady work, its a BIG DEAL.
By Nukiepoo (115), Southampton on Jul 12, 18 7:10 AM
2 members liked this comment