Intelligent Piping Systems Inc.
- Written by: Eric Gundberg
- Produced by: Chuck McKenna
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
You could say Robert (Bob) McMorrow was born to lay pipe. His family has been working in the industry since his father first started as a steamfitter with Local 638 in New York after World War II. Nearly 50 years later Bob founded his own company, Intelligent Piping Systems Inc. (IPS), in 1995. By the founding of IPS Bob’s father had already retired, but Bob acknowledges that everything he has applied to his own venture can be traced back his father’s keen sense of quality, service and attention to detail. “I learned the business from my father as a kid growing up. My brother and I were steamfitters in his firm,” he recounts. True to form, Bob’s own sons, Bob Jr. & Patrick, are both fully involved in the family business.
Based out of Northvale, N.J., IPS applies these multiple generations of experience to commercial and residential customers in all five of New York’s boroughs and on Long Island as well. Laying pipes for a complex place like New York City is a daunting task, except to the professionals at IPS. “A lot of people think it would be hard logistically doing construction in the city, but actually it’s easier. If you’re out in the suburbs, your jobs can be 50 to 100 miles apart, but in the city, I can have multiple projects going at the same time and I can access them all quicker. We know what cross streets to not take during the day,” he reveals.
Personal Level of Attention Entices Clients
The NYC market can be lucrative, but cutthroat. For every contractor in the city, there are dozens more willing to work on a thinner profit margin. McMorrow says that IPS has avoided having to resort to undercutting on price because it has made a name for itself simply through the quality of work showcased on previous projects.
“One of the things that we do best is that we really examine the jobs carefully and find the best ways to get them done. Our goal, on every project, is to determine how we can best save our clients time and money,” explains Bob Sr. “We also bring a personal level of attention to projects that is not common. Every construction project is going to have an obstacle at some point. We’re on site, and able to find the best solution to those.”
Though it’s not glamorous work, piping is a critical component of every building, and the team at IPS has worked on some significant projects in the greater New York region. The firm recently completed a $73 million renovation that included the addition of a lifestyle center and 167,000 square feet of new retail space. “We had to lay all new dual temperature piping on the roof, as well as rebuild the redistribution lines running through the stores. It was a good project for us,” notes Bob Sr.
IPS is also currently involved with the American Museum of Natural History’s “largest and most ambitious restoration projects [that] the institution has ever undertaken,” according to the museum’s website. The $37 million project is estimated to take three years and is especially challenging to IPS because of the historic nature of the structure, which is comprised of five interconnected buildings on 77th street and Central Park West that were built between 1891 and 1897.
“It’s definitely a challenge when working in these very old buildings. You don’t know the walls’ structural integrity so you have to be very careful,” reflects Bob Jr., who in addition to overseeing all of the companies drafting also does double-duty as the project manager. “The Museum posed an additional challenge as they didn’t want to close during the renovation. We had to be extra careful in the exhibit areas of the museum.”
Challenge of Working on Historic Buildings
The American Museum of Natural History isn’t the only NYC landmark building to call upon the expertise of IPS. The New York Historical Society’s flagship building on Central Park West underwent a $65 million renovation on which the firm was active in both Phase I and Phase II.
However, despite these spotlight projects, IPS hasn’t fully escaped issues associated with the current economic climate. Despite being the second largest city economy in the world, New York City has not been immune to the overall struggles of the country during the recession. In response, the McMorrows have had to refocus the company’s targets towards the healthy sectors of the industry. “New construction in the New York region is still off from what we’re used to, but the hospitals and clinics are still pretty steady,” reveals Bob Sr.
To make it in such a competitive atmosphere the McMorrows draw on more than just their family history and devoted employees. They also push forward with a highly competitive attitude, which is exhibited through a passion for ice hockey. Bob Jr, Patrick and their younger brothers – Kevin & Shane – continue to play hockey, while Bob Sr. maintains a position as head coach of the ACHA D-II men’s team at the New Jersey Institute for Technology. Playing their home games at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., the team recently won the 2010-2011 Great Northeast Collegiate Hockey Championship. It’s this same always-moving-forward approach that the McMorrows have carried over to the construction industry and which has helped IPS thrive.
Using techniques taught by Bob Sr.’s father combined with an ability to coordinate lightning quick action from the ice to the dirt, the McMorrows have built IPS into one of New York’s outstanding piping contractors and will continue to reinforce infrastructure both within the company and the region for years to come.
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