Case Studies

Eckhardt & Johnson Inc.

Putting 100 Years of Experience to Work

Eckhardt & Johnson Inc. (E&J) is New Hampshire’s longest standing full-service mechanical contractor and one of the northern New England’s most respected. The company’s commitment to quality workmanship and a professional attitude has made it a popular choice since it was founded in 1917 by Henry Eckhardt and James Johnson.

“What makes Eckhardt and Johnson stand out is really that we have been able to survive the years – even through the Great Depression – because we put our reputation first,” says majority shareholder and President Daniel Clair. “Mistakes do happen, but what separates us from other companies is how you handle mistakes; we have never walked away from a single job or mistake.”

No company makes it through 95 years in business by accident. E&J relies on strong leadership, a dedicated and conscientious workforce, and its ability to adapt to marketplace needs. “We have been owned by the same group of families since 1917, with very few changes to the ownership since,” says Clair. “Whereas we started out as a residential plumbing company, today we have grown and focus specifically on commercial and industrial clients and we not only do plumbing, but we also provide heating and sheet metal and design service.”

State-of-the-art Cool

From its home base in Manchester, N.H., E&J’s team of 70 employees works for clients throughout Northern New England, delivering quality, on-time design, installation and maintenance services through a thorough understanding of all systems – plumbing, HVAC and sheet metal. “We usually work for clients within a 50-mile radius of our headquarters in Manchester, but we are capable of expanding that radius if needed,” says Clair. “But more than anything, we’re known for being a company that you can trust. We have survived just about every kind of economy and have many clients who have been with us for over 40 years.”

Recently, E&J put its ability to customize services to work finishing work at Plymouth University’s Ice Arena and Welcome Center, a new, energy-efficient facility that earned LEED Silver Certification. “It was a very complex project,” says Clair. The new facility uses a geothermal system for both heating and refrigeration to eliminate the need for fossil fuels. The National Hockey League-size ice rink uses a system that integrates ice-making, heating and cooling for optimal energy efficiency, which results in a 28-percent reduction in energy usage. As part of the university’s commitment to sustainability, the new facility also employed wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, a not-for-profit organization that aims to provide and promote the usage of responsibly harvested and verified wood products.

Upgrading the Old School to the New School

E&J is finishing up the Pinkerton Academy Freshman Building, an independent high school in Derry, N.H. The company is constructing a new facility for freshman students for the 2011 to 2012 academic year. The new three-story, 135,000-square foot building provides spaces for culinary arts, media room, computer lab, kitchen, cafeteria and lecture hall with mechanical costs totaling over $2.5 million.

E&J was also involved in the Renovations of Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth, N.H. The new campus consists primarily of one building: a concrete and steel structure that was completely gutted and refit to house the vocational college’s various schools. While there were few changes to the building’s façade, the interior required energy-efficient upgrades to the lighting and heating systems, as well as better insulation.

As evidenced by projects such as the above, E&J has remained busy during the economic downturn thanks to the company’s skilled technicians and commitment to its clients, though it has faced many challenges. “The economy is absolutely our biggest challenge right now,” explains Clair. “There is tough competition in the market right now, with residential construction being down so dramatically we are seeing several residential contractors entering into the commercial market.

“This economy has also forced our customers and clients to take a hard look at their expenses and the cost of their mechanical needs,” continues Clair. “We are not always the cheapest; however, I think we bring an enormous amount to the table that is not always evident when you look at price alone. So we have relied upon our amazing team of technicians to keep up the quality of work. Even in this challenging time we are not standing still; this past year we have invested in upgrading to AutoCad 2011 and 3-D coordination programs Cad Duct and CadMech, along with bringing an experienced mechanical designer on staff to perform our coordination drawings and design in-house. Our next move is to bring a licensed mechanical engineer on staff. We want to bring our design-build work completely in-house, and also have the resources on staff to help clients evaluate their current and future mechanical needs. Properly sized and energy-efficient designs are a must.”

E&J doesn’t hold exclusive agreements with any manufacturers, so the company is truly able to offer the best, most up-to-date services, products and methods for any situation, as well as 24-hour, seven-day-a-week emergency service. With a team of seasoned and loyal technicians and an unrivaled reputation for longstanding craftsmanship in the industry, Eckhardt & Johnson Inc. is sure to enjoy success to its 100th anniversary and beyond.

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