Bortner Bros. Inc.
- Written by: Eric Gundberg
- Produced by: Victor Martins
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
You could say plumbing runs in the Bortner family’s veins. The Bortners have a long history of serving clients in south central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. Larry Bortner, current president of Bortner Bros. Inc. Mechanical Design, Construction and Service, explains, “We’ve been around in one form of another since 1925, when my grandfather founded a plumbing and heating company here in York [in Pennsylvania]. My dad and my uncle split off and founded the current company in 1951, and I started working here in 1979.”
Bortner Bros., which specializes in commercial construction, has developed a reputation for integrity and attention to detail. “Most of my clients are repeat clients,” says Larry. “I’m really lucky that we’ve developed those relationships over the years, because it has helped us tremendously during this economic slowdown.” That reputation hasn’t gone unrewarded, as the firm currently employs around 55 people and closed out roughly $14 million in sales in 2009.
Larry is an effective leader, with a lot of experience and education under his belt. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Georgia Tech, aiding in the company’s delivery of mechanical design-build services. He’s also a registered Professional Engineer, and served as a Captain in the Army. After joining the firm, he served for 12 years on the board of Associated Builders and Contractors’ Keystone Chapter, including a tenure as president. Larry took over control of Bortner Bros. after his father, Glenn, retired in 1996, and his experience has proved invaluable in leading Bortner Bros. into a new era partnered with trusted engineering firms, architects, general contractors, excavation contractors, rigging companies and building owners. The firm has its own 5,900-square foot sheet metal fabrication shop to produce components needed for new construction or renovation, and maintains a staff experienced in installation, wiring, and equipment start-up.
Strong Leadership the Key to Success
Under Larry’s leadership the firm has stayed busy during the economic downturn, working on several projects. “We just finished up a new production facility for a large detergent manufacturer. This was one of the biggest projects we’ve ever worked on. And we were able to finish the project ourselves, even though it was so big. We’re also working on two projects for a couple of the local colleges. Colleges and medical facilities are becoming our two biggest clients,” notes Bortner. Bortner Bros. can manage systems that include domestic water, sanitary and storm piping, gas distribution, medical gas and process system piping.
The firm may have a long history, but it’s definitely not stuck in the past. The firm has firmly embraced “green building” and recently just finished work on a geothermal heating system for an area residential care facility that was registered for LEED certification. Details from the company’s website show the scope of the project’s energy-reducing construction:
“Another LEED project, for a First Capital Federal Credit Union, included a rain water re-use system. Rain water is collected from the roof and stored, instead of going to the storm sewer. The stored water is pumped through a series of filters and a UV light before supplying water for toilets and hoses. The system has an automatic city water make up for times when there may not be enough precipitation to serve the consumption needs. The HVAC system uses geothermal technology. Twelve wells were drilled for a vertical closed loop piping system. Each well loop enters the basement of the building, where the piping ties together in a manifold header. The pumped water in the piping system conserves energy by using the constant temperature of the earth to temper the water serving the heat pumps. Variable Frequency Drives reduce the amount of electricity needed to operate the HVAC pumps during non-peak conditions.”
The firm can not only provide a full range of mechanical contracting services to its clients – including design, mechanical, HVAC, plumbing, and sheet metal – but it also started a service department to ensure clients would have access to technicians who could service the equipment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Bortner Bros. uses AutoCAD to analyze systems/costs prior to construction, to deliver code compliant drawings of projects to clients, and to more efficiently coordinate piping/ductwork plans and negotiate turnkey costs. Quickpen software also aids in estimating piping and sheet metal pricing.
Looking towards the future, Bortner sees continued growth as the key to the company’s survival. “We’re aggressively looking for new business all the time. We also strive for constant growth, because if you’re not growing, you’re getting stagnant. I don’t want to get huge; I just want to maintain our controlled growth. I’m not the biggest firm out there, but I’m definitely the best.” The firm’s grown has been acknowledged, and Bortner Bros. was at one point named one of the 50 fastest growing firms by the Central Pennsylvania Business Magazine.
With a solid reputation and a history of service that goes back 85 years, it’s easy to see how Bortner Bros. became and remains one of the premier mechanical contracting firms in south central Pennsylvania.
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