Case Studies

George Breslaw Plumbing LLC

Scaling back drives growth for an established NYC plumbing contractor

For more than 80 years George Breslaw Plumbing LLC (GBP) has been providing plumbing services to a loyal customer base across the five boroughs of New York City.

Originally founded in 1929 by George Breslaw during the early days of the Great Depression, GBP has become a fixture of the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood with the company’s iconic rooftop “Copper Man” sculpture drawing attention from locals and tourists alike. Today the third-generation family-owned and –operated company is run by Michael Breslaw, son of Richard Breslaw and grandson of the company’s founder.

George Breslaw Plumbing LLC

A true one-stop shop, GBP offers services for both the residential and commercial markets. From new construction and renovations to alteration, back-flow prevention, water main and sewer/storm service, GBP handles it all. The company also offers 24/7 emergency service, earning GBP a reputation with building owners as a valuable and responsive partner.

GBP’s plumbing, sewer and drain services range from installation and repairs of kitchen and bath fixtures, gas and electric water heaters, color video inspections, hydro-jetting and stoppages. The company also offers conventional trenchless technology, heating service and runs its own fabrication division which creates custom pipes for any job.

A new approach

In a move that initially seems to defy logic, GBP recently decided to end its involvement with one of its most profitable sectors-the health care market. Accounting for nearly 40 percent of the company’s portfolio at the time, Breslaw says the hospital construction projects simply caused too many cash flow issues.

“We received a tremendous amount of business, but the payments were not received in a timely manner. Much of our non-hospital work was covering the expenses for our hospital projects. The decision was made to cut out the hospital business and that helped our turnaround for us ever since,” said Michael Breslaw, CEO of GBP.

While the gamble paid off in the end, Breslaw said some of his co-workers initially questioned the bold decision. “Everybody thought I was crazy. This is a going to be a difficult time, but we’d get through it. Now months later we’ve actually begun to reap the benefits of that decision,” he said.

The renewed focus on projects outside the health care realm has allowed GBP to be more thoughtful and discerning when it comes to choosing which projects to bid on. “We just thought we were a bidding machine and would just bid, bid, bid. Now we are enhancing our relationships we have with just a select handful of our general contractors,” he said.

The new approach to the market did require the company to perform some substantial downsizing, with the employee ranks shrinking from 65 to 45. Mark Haffner, Vice President of GBP, agreed that with the amount of work coming in, the profit would increase.

A big presence in The Big Apple

Without the health care market dominating time and budget, GBP has been able to complete marquee projects at some of New York City’s most famous sites in recent years including work at the Tavern on the Green and Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Working under a well-known construction company, GBP was called in to perform a $2 million plumbing project for kitchens and pantries in the new Freedom Tower.  “This was a highly coordinated project,” said Breslaw.

GBP recently wrapped up a project at Manhattan’s iconic Chelsea Hotel, a collaboration with another well-known contractor. GBP is currently working on a project for Georgetown Company, with that same general contractor.

“Chelsea Hotel was an amazing project and a huge undertaking due to the fact that 65 families remained in residence. It was basically a full gut renovation where we took all the piping out which has probably not been touched in over 100 years and replaced it with all new piping,” he says.

Building from within

While many of the construction industry have cited a lack of qualified employees as one of the largest hurdles to success and growth, Breslaw says that focus on developing in-house talent has allowed the company to weather a tough labor market.

“I’m all about building from within. Here you can start as a receptionist and you can end up being the head of purchasing.” This approach mirrors Breslaw’s own history with the company where he got his start at the lowest level.

“When I came into the business I started as a receptionist. I worked in the back of the shop to learn about different plumbing material. Today I know every aspect of the company. When we have employee who doesn’t know something, we teach them,” he says.

Looking down the road, Breslaw would like to see GBP expand the range of services offered, extending the company’s scope to include work such as providing service contracts to those looking for on-call repair and service.

Thanks to a renewed focus on a more diverse range of work, George Breslaw Plumbing LLC has prepared itself to enjoy future success as one of New York City’s leading plumbing and heating contractors.

Published on: December 14, 2016


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