Case Studies

FitzGerald & Sons Plumbing Company

A step ahead in plumbing Peachtree City, Georgia

Celebrating 32 years in business, FitzGerald & Sons Plumbing Company of Peachtree City, Georgia, knows the importance of staying a step ahead in the construction industry.

“Being a pioneer in adopting the latest technology and processes is crucial in our ever-changing environment,” says Richard FitzGerald Jr., who is president and CEO of FitzGerald & Sons.

For instance, FitzGerald & Sons was an early adoptee of the Lean Construction philosophy and its emphasis on efficiency through the elimination of waste in all business processes. This includes the implementation of building information modeling (BIM) and the extensive use of prefabrication and the utilization of Trimble Robotic Total Station in the installation of plumbing systems. As an adherent of the Lean Construction philosophy, FitzGerald says, “We believe that you can either be on the leading edge of technology, or the bleeding edge.”

Fitzgerald & Sons Plumbing Company

BIM enables FitzGerald & Sons to design an entire plumbing system and overlay the model in 3D with the architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical components to eliminate any potential conflicts before actual construction. FitzGerald and his colleagues can then take the model and prefabricate the plumbing system in the company’s 12,000-square-foot BIM and prefabrication shop.

As the field construction activities begin, FitzGerald & Sons delivers the prefabricated plumbing assemblies to the job site as they are being installed to eliminate staging issues on the typically tight workspace. Utilizing the Trimble Robotic Total Station, the team imports the model into the system and can locate any point in the model, such as under-slab plumbing risers, sleeves, cores, hangers and other components.

The benefits of this system are numerous. First, FitzGerald & Sons is able to eliminate virtually all conflicts before getting out into the field. Second, the process eliminates the drastic labor-loading spike during the rough plumbing phase by prefabricating the plumbing systems off-site at the company’s fabrication shop. Third, by delivering the pre-fabricated plumbing assemblies “just in time” to be installed, the contractor does not clutter the site with stockpiles of materials or scrap materials. Fourth, FitzGerald and his team have drastically reduced their exposure to jobsite injuries by prefabricating the plumbing assemblies in a controlled, factory-like environment. Lastly, the combination of BIM and Trimble Robotic Total Station enables FitzGerald & Sons to successfully perform in an environment of evermore aggressive and compressed schedules being demanded by clients.

In addition, as green or sustainable building designs have become more common, FitzGerald & Sons has been involved in the construction of numerous LEED-certified projects. These projects have ranged from the simple utilization of water-saving plumbing fixtures to more complex storm water reclamation and grey water systems. As a LEED-certified Green Associate, FitzGerald & Sons has been able to provide valuable preconstruction services to its clients during the development of sustainable designs on LEED projects.

In 2014, FitzGerald & Sons started its own accredited NCEER/CEFGA apprenticeship school called FitzGerald Plumbing College to ensure the continual development of the company’s human resource capital capacity as it moves forward.

A full-service company

Founded in 1984 by Richard P. FitzGerald Sr., FitzGerald & Sons is a full-service plumbing specialty contracting company operating primarily in metropolitan Atlanta and north Georgia. The company employs more than 100 people and performs plumbing contract work in the commercial, education, industrial, government, health care, hospitality, religious and residential market sectors. The company is structurally divided into two divisions: a construction division and a service division.

The construction division is managed by FitzGerald and performs plumbing system renovations, additions and new construction installations in all market sectors. Previously completed projects have included design-assist and design-build contracts, as well as traditional plan-and-spec projects. Over the past 15 years, FitzGerald & Sons has gravitated more into the health care market as the company’s capabilities have increased.

Michael FitzGerald, Richard’s brother and vice president of the company, manages FitzGerald & Sons’ service division. This arm of the business performs plumbing system service and repairs in all markets sectors. FitzGerald & Sons utilizes the latest technologies in servicing clients, including underground sewer systems camera videotaping, pipe locating and leak detection equipment, hydro-jetting drainage line stoppages, and GPS service dispatching.

Looking Forward

FitzGerald & Sons is optimistic about the future. Having recently completed its largest project to date—a $10-million capital improvement program—the Clinical Support Expansion and Medical Office Building at St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, Georgia, FitzGerald and his team feel confident that they can handle any project.

Currently the company is close to finishing the under-slab plumbing scope of work for the new Atlanta Falcons Stadium. FitzGerald & Sons is also working on a large four-story emergency department (ED) and clinical support expansion on Grady Hospital in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, which entails a four-story addition and renovation to the existing ED space, while keeping the ED up and running throughout the entire project schedule in a downtown work environment.  It has also recently started the Great Wolf Water Park in LaGrange, Georgia, as well as, the Porsche- Solis Hotel in Atlanta.

“My late father started this company in a spare bedroom in our house,” FitzGerald says with a chuckle. “He had one truck and one employee. However, there was always a shared vision between my father, my brother and me to build a family-owned, managed and oriented company that served the Atlanta Metro and north Georgia area that would exceed all of our customer expectations and be recognized as a ‘best-in-class’ specialty subcontractor. I think my dad would be proud of our accomplishments—and we’re not finished yet.”

Over the coming years, Fitzgerald & Sons will continue to press onward, expanding on a family-built foundation of quality, integrity and innovation.

This is an updated version of a story that originally appeared in the 2015 Best of the Southeast edition of US Builders Review.

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