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Company Reports - Hellwig Plumbing  

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Hellwig Plumbing

Hellwig Plumbing: Building On Trusted Relationships

By Emmet Cole

A sterling reputation coupled with a steadfast commitment to deadlines has made Santa Clara-based Ray L.
Hellwig Plumbing: Building On Trusted Relationships
A sterling reputation coupled with a steadfast commitment to deadlines has made Santa Clara-based Ray L. Hellwig Plumbing and Heating one of the largest plumbing, heating and mechanical contracting and service companies in Northern California.

In its sixty-year history, the company has yet to miss a deadline -an impeccable record that generates trust and remains the driving force behind Ray L. Hellwig Plumbing and Heating's success.

"Our greatest achievement as a company has been our dedication to our customers and making sure that when we leave our job site, they're 100 percent satisfied with our performance," says project manager Fred Fischer. "We've had some customers for thirty years or more. That's because we do a good job and provide good service giving our customers a reason to call us again the next time."

To maintain the company's deadline driven focus, Hellwig employees spend a lot of time with clients planning ahead and working to maximize project efficiency.

"The hardest part of scheduling is finding ways that we can control the schedule in order to optimize our efficiency in the field," says project manager Doug Jones. "We've never missed a deadline because we're extremely committed to our projects. If we're behind schedule for any reason, we will pool our resources and do what it takes to get the job done on time." No wonder companies return to Hellwig time and time again.

The Perfect Fit
"Service, quality and performance are the strengths that we have to offer," says Fischer. "It comes at a cost to us because we're not a company to cut corners. We're there to make sure the job is done right and on time the first time. With that mentality, for us profit becomes a second tier issue."

The company completes between $25 million to $40 million of work annually--and they're sticking with the tried-and-true methods that have sustained the company since 1947.

"Our owner remains actively involved in the company and he still operates on a handshake," says Jones. "He's a man of his word, and when he tells somebody the job's going to get done and not to worry about it, that job's going to get done and they don't ever have to worry about it."

Ray L. Hellwig Plumbing and Heating has reached the perfect size to meet its customers' requirements, says Jones. And although Hellwig isn't necessarily looking to rapidly expand operations, its 135 employees are busy all year round.

"We're obviously looking to maintain growth, but I don't think we're going to try to reach that $100 million mark," Jones said. "We're happy staying at the size that this company is because we do fit a need for our customers."

Expert Workers, Satisfied Clients
Hellwig designs plumbing, heating and HVAC systems, and builds the ductwork and piping for the commercial, industrial, biomedical, and hospital markets.

Hellwig supports educational and training opportunities for its employees through ongoing specialist education and union journeyman training in the latest tools and techniques through well-established educational links with local colleges in association with Local 393 Joint Apprentice Training Center, including Michigan State and Foothill College.

This commitment to training enables the company's union workers to keep up-to-date on the latest technologies. Sophisticated plasma cutters, for example, are used to cut sheet metal, ensuring precision, accuracy, and minimal waste.

Key parts are custom built on a project-to-project basis. With trained union plumbers, steam fitters, sheet metal mechanics and refrigeration fitters to call on, Hellwig always has a highly-trained team of craftsmen and craftswomen ready to meet its customers' needs.

The company keeps costs down by maintaining a diversity of quality in-house expertise, and ensuring smooth project control. It has recently been focusing its efforts on end-to-end project management solutions - engineering, estimating, scheduling, inventory, prefabrication, job site supervision and customer communication - all fall into the capable hands of Hellwig.

"We take a project from the start - from concept - and work with the client to develop schematic drawings and finalize it through a series of processes and then construct the project," Fischer said. He said the company would likely continue in this direction as the market changes.

"Obviously there's a need for complete solutions out there, so we're working with some of our engineering teams and trying to fill that market requirement," he said. Focusing on end-to-end solutions makes it easier for the company to keep its on-deadline promise.

"We can look at a project and analyze the schedule and the timeframe, work with contractors and plan whatever prefabrication we can," says Fischer. "Preplanning is the magic word. That's why we try to gear toward negotiated work where we're more on a team, partnering with these general contractors early on, who are part of the design development team and we can be ahead of the curve on everything and we can preplan."

"We're always trying to find better and more efficient ways of doing our job, even though for the most part, our job has remained the same," says Jones. The company also prides itself on having employees that are familiar with city and county ordinances and other regulations, removing the burden of red-tape processes from its clients.

Future Trends

Ray L. Hellwig Plumbing and Heating is seeing a lot of growth in the medical sector. "Right now, hospitals are the big push because of new laws and regulations that require them to update or replace their facilities, so there's a big need for us in that industry," says Fischer. The company is leveraging the latest in design technologies including sophisticated, computerized 3D modeling. "We're getting into the 3D modeling for our piping systems and we're looking to take that throughout the industry," Jones says.

Jones explains that the company's customer service and commitment to its products are still what sets Hellwig apart from others. "We do stand behind our work," he said. "If there is a problem and a customer calls, we get back out there and fix it - do the job right. That's what we've got, because they can always find a cheaper price, but we're offering something more. For our customers, it's a single call to Hellwig and they know they're going to be taken care of."
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