Case Studies

Mechanical & Service Contractors Associations of Eastern Pennsylvania

Setting the standard for quality mechanical, plumbing and service contractors

With more than 70 member contractors representing 3,900 union craftspeople, the old saying about strength in numbers certainly applies to the Mechanical & Service Contractors Associations of Eastern Pennsylvania (M&SCA-EPA). For more than 120 years, the association has united leading members of the mechanical and plumbing construction and mechanical service industry throughout the Delaware Valley.

Through educational training programs, industry news, legislative advocacy, labor relations negotiations, networking opportunities and more, M&SCA-EPA represents and supports the leaders in the plumbing and pipefitting trades. While member contractors such as GEM Mechanical, Lima Company, Nooter Construction, Matrix NAC and River Mechanical vary in size and market, they are united as members of the Plumbers Local Union 690 and Steamfitters Local Union 420.

“M&SCA-EPA dates back to 1895,” says Tim Brink, executive director of the association. “Originally, M&SCA-EPA was the Air Conditioning Heating and Plumbing Employers Association. Over the years, there have been a number of mergers between area union halls, which have resulted in two remaining in the area: Local 690 and Local 420.”

Education first

After eight years in leadership at M&SCA-EPA, Brink says the association goes above and beyond the call of duty to serve its membership. “I think what really sets us apart is our commitment to education for our members and their employees,” he says. “Also, we have a strong commitment to our labor partners and training their members. And finally, our commitment to our community is a huge part. Providing the end-users with a high-quality product, delivered by some of the industry’s best professionals is our utmost goal.”

M&SCA-EPA also works with the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) to leverage the strength of greater resources and further educational opportunities for its members. “Our relationship with MCAA allows access to all of their educational offerings and provides a platform to partner with local unions in order to be an active part of their apprentice and journeyman training programs,” adds Brink. “This helps to ensure that field crews – where the rubber meets the road – are the most educated in the business.”

Brink says M&SCA-EPA hosts a number of educational events every year. Topics include safety, project management, executive education and more. “Recently, we’ve been doing more work and outreach into vocational and technical schools,” adds Brink. “By drawing from this pool we’re finding that the number of applicants and the quality of applicants has increased over the last couple of years.”

United by Excellence

The United by Excellence initiative is another way M&SCA-EPA is taking action to promote its membership along with local union partners. “This is a program that was started by M&SCA-EPA and their union partners to highlight the capabilities of our contractors and the adept training of their employees,” says Brink. “United by Excellence is listed under its own separate website [] aside from M&SCA-EPA [] and is really an effort to get the message out there that we’re the best value and the best solution for end users’ needs.”

The goal of the online reference site is to ensure customers receive the best mechanical, plumbing and mechanical service experience every time. With more than $3.5 million invested in annual training between Local No. 420 and Local No. 690, United by Excellence showcases this dedication, listing all forms of professional training.

It also acts as a guide to the types of services offered by member contractors. Customers can find online client testimonials and a reference to finding a member contractor in any county in eastern Pennsylvania. “It’s an easy way for end users to go to one website and it’s all there,” explains Brink. “They can be sure they will find the right union contactor that meets their needs.”

Picking up in Philly

Having a landing page for customer interest is pretty critical because post-recession, Philly is starting to pick up as a hotbed of activity. “The educational, university and medical markets have always been strong, but increasingly, the city is becoming an energy hub,” says Brink. “The federal government wants Philly to be the center of refinery and power generation in coming years and it’s creating quite a stir and years’ worth of work for our guys.”

Another industry making its home in Philadelphia is technology. “Comcast recently committed to build the tallest high-rise in town for its new technology and innovation center, bringing in 4,100 high-tech jobs,” notes Brink. “Along with this development have been commitments for more hotels and restaurants. University and medical work is also on the up rise. It’s certainly an exciting time to be in Philly and our union partners have the right mindset, we are the right solution for the job, and we will earn your confidence. There’s a whole new atmosphere and things are really looking up.”

With more man-hours than in years past, Brink says the same sense of friendly competition is still in the air. “Our guys go head to head, but they compete fairly and at the end of the day, when we’re together in the boardroom or at a membership meeting or outing, the competition disappears and everyone concentrates on what’s best for the industry,” says Brink.

In the end, it’s about strength in unity for members of the Mechanical & Service Contractors Associations of Eastern Pennsylvania; bettering the industry as a whole means success today and a viable future for the mechanical, plumbing and service trades of the future.

Published on: August 19, 2015

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