Case Studies

GEM Mechanical Services

Family-oriented mechanical contracting in Pennsylvania

Founded in 1997 by Mike and Mary Gaffney, GEM Mechanical Services has always remained a small family business. Located in Aston, Pennsylvania, GEM Mechanical provides complete mechanical services for a wide range of industries, including government, education, commercial and local municipalities. The company is also a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (CBE).

When GEM Mechanical began, owner and president Mary Gaffney remained in a full-time position outside of the company while her husband Mike worked on establishing the business and making connections in the industry. “For the first few years I was working outside the business to help support it and get it started,” says Gaffney. “I was working a high-level executive position so we were able to get the business off the ground and then when the time was right I came on board.” The company has always remained in Gaffney’s name.

Public work

A notable project completed by GEM Mechanical took place at West Chester University in 2014. The project was in WCU’s Graham Natatorium and involved an 800,000 gallon swimming pool. GEM Mechanical was presented with the task of replacing the swimming pool filtration and recirculation system.

Work consisted of draining the pool and removing and replacing the concrete gutter system with a stainless steel system. The university’s logo was also installed in the tile work in the center of the two swimming pools. GEM Mechanical installed a state-of-the-art pressure regenerative filtration system, which included a second surge tank in the mechanical space below the pool. Other equipment installed included recirculation pumps, a UV system and all interconnecting piping.

Over the years, GEM Mechanical has performed more than $25 million of work for the School District of Philadelphia. “99 percent of the work we do is public,” Gaffney explains. “One of the biggest challenges that we face on these jobs that we do for public schools, universities and municipalities how to be as least disruptive as possible. We are rigging large equipment into small locations and whether its 10-inch pipe or an entire boiler you have to break it down into sections.”

GEM Mechanical Services

When performing public work, the lowest bidder wins the job. GEM sets itself apart from the crowd with the quality of work and the approach the company takes on each job. Every job starts with an in-house pre-construction scheduling meeting. “We review the job together with the Project Manager and Job Foreman and determine our approach, the project risks, the subcontractors we use, the equipment we need, the schedule, and our safety approach,” Gaffney explains  “Our communication from the office to the field runs very smoothly after we have all reviewed the project at hand. At the end of the project, what we rely the most on is our reputation of doing quality work and how we train the customers on the equipment that we have installed.”

Mechanical Contractors Association

As a member of the Mechanical Contractors Association, Gaffney finds numerous beneficial aspects such as safety training and technology. “What I have found very beneficial is the documentation and training materials,” Gaffney explains. “We have access to all types of trainings. In the most challenging business climates, we have sent people to executive leadership, project foreman and project management training. Our project manager attended the Advanced Institute for Project Management at the University of Texas to further develop his project management skills.”

GEM Mechanical believes that an incident and injury-free workplace is obtainable. The company’s safety record provides clients with confidence that GEM Mechanical will take all necessary measures to ensure a safe work environment.

At the end of every year, all companies have methods of reviewing progress. Along with profit margins, many businesses will look deeper within themselves to discover areas of improvement and community involvement. When measuring success of GEM Mechanical Services, Gaffney says that the effectiveness of communication for all involved parties is a key indicator of the strength of the company.

The professional service associates that GEM Mechanical partners with play a major role in the flow from bid room to project completion. “Our relationships with our banker, bonding company, insurance agent and accountant are crucial,” Gaffney explains. “I need those business partners to be on call all the time. I might be bidding on a job and have to go to my insurance agent to get a certification immediately to meet the project specifications. No construction company can survive without great partners and the necessary tools.”

Looking into the future for GEM Mechanical, the company has recognized the value in expanding its market share. GEM is currently working on adding an additional building on their 3.5 acre property for fabrication and storage. “We’re looking into possibly creating a service department in the company,” says Gaffney. “We’re contemplating whether or not we should hire an associate who focuses strictly on following up installations with maintenance.” GEM Mechanical has also made strides in technology and simplifying processes. “We are always looking at our processes to determine if they still work and what we can do to make them better”

As a small, family-owned business, GEM Mechanical is capable of competing in a big market. As the company continues to make advancements in technology, safety and efficiency GEM Mechanical Services will continue to provide quality workmanship.

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Spring 2018



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