Case Studies

Pipe Craft Inc.

Offering Innovative Mechanical Solutions in New Jersey

In 1988 Nick DiPano and Frank Cimini founded Pipe Craft Inc. (PCI). With many years of industry experience between them, the pair has built a strong name in the business for more than 25 years. Today, the original owners have passed the reins down to Nick’s son, Jeff DiPano, as well as Dennis Gurovich. However, Nick and Frank are still involved with the company, serving on the board and spending time in the office a few days every week.

“We started this business from scratch,” says Nick, who grew up in the business. “My uncle was a pipefitter and I was always interested in construction. My uncle got me a job as an apprentice. I worked my way into a management position pretty rapidly. After that, I worked as a project manager for a number of years and eventually as the vice president of another firm.” When he decided the time was right to break out on his own, Nick and Frank developed the company at the DiPano family’s dining room table.

PCI has since become a leading mechanical contractor in New Jersey’s commercial and industrial markets. The company works from a single office with approximately 50 employees. “We have been in business for more than two decades,” Nick notes. “I think we’ve worked in Pennsylvania twice, but almost all of our business is in-state.”

A Growing Portfolio

The team has worked for a wide range of clients in the industrial and commercial markets, with repeat business making up a large portion of the company’s revenue.

“We work for a lot of Fortune 500 companies,” Nick elaborates. “Our biggest repeat clients are Johnson & Johnson and Princeton University, which we have worked with for more than 20 years.”

PCI often works as a subcontractor under major construction firms. “We are currently working with Barr and Barr Inc. in the construction phase for Burlington Coat Factory Corporate Headquarters,” says Nick. “We have worked with Barr and Barr Inc. several times on other projects, including Pharmacopia, as well as Capital Health Systems in Trenton. We have a very good reputation with our contractors. We have a great field crew and office support to back up our operations. We’re very financially sound.”

The business performs mechanical contracts under the scope of plumbing and HVAC. As technology advances to better serve sustainable means, the team has adapted with the market. For example, the PCI crew has completed the construction of two combined cooling, heat and power generators (co-gens). These generators produce power for industrial businesses. While heat is a natural byproduct of electrical generation, co-gens capture the otherwise lost heat energy to use for climate control.

Thriving in A Changing Market

The company’s reputation has carried the business through the worst of the recession. Still, as the market shifts, keeping up can be challenging. “The economy is different than it was 20 years ago,” Nick explains. “We have seen a lot of the manufacturing in New Jersey moving overseas. We have been steadily diversifying in recent years. We are shifting more toward commercial work, so instead of the manufacturing plants we served before, we are working more with hospitals, laboratories and universities.”

According to Nick, the shift in business requires tight management. Fortunately for PCI, strong office backup and experienced field personnel make it work on a daily basis.

“Payroll is one of our biggest expenses,” Nick notes, “But it is also our biggest investment. We also have our own fleet of 14 trucks, for which we have upkeep, as well as insurance and subcontractors. Anything with piping or plumbing we do in-house. We will sub out work, such as sheet metal, controls and insulation. Our subs change with each project and we bid out all of our work to qualified subcontractors in order to control costs. We do the same with materials unless otherwise specified by our contracts.”

Reinvesting in the company, as well as in strategic partners, is all part of the industry. Nick and his team are confident in the products and services PCI provides to clients. In return, clients trust PCI for a job well done when seeking out a reliable contractor to provide plumbing and HVAC solutions.

“We like what we do,” Nick explains. “At the end of the day, it feels good to see a finished project. When you drive by, you see the good work you have left behind.” Regardless of where the market takes PCI, the business is well qualified to maintain a consistent level of good work in the commercial and industrial markets. As the business diversifies, Pipe Craft Inc. is looking ahead to several more decades of innovation and quality performance.

Published on: July 10, 2014

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