Case Studies

Prout Boiler, Heating & Welding Inc.

70 years of family-run mechanical contracting in northeastern Ohio

Prout Boiler, Heating & Welding Inc. is a product of father-to-son succession, running on three generations of family ownership and integrity in Youngstown, Ohio. True to its name, Prout Boiler’s focus has always been the installation and replacement of boilers but the company also performs commercial and industrial plumbing, HVAC and process piping for a wide range of customers, particularly health care and educational clients.

“Anything related to piping – be it process or complex medical gas – that’s what we specialize in,” says Wes Prout, third-generation president of Prout Boiler. “With an in-house prefabrication shop and design team, we also have the expertise to perform a great deal of upfront design and coordination.”

Long-running experience and reputation

This leading experience stems from Prout Boiler’s long running history in eastern Ohio. “My grandfather, E.C. Prout, who was a boilermaker by trade, started the company, then my dad took over and I followed,” recounts Wes. “My grandfather started the business to service and repair home boilers in northern Youngstown and many local churches.”

In 1948, the company expanded operations when Carl Foster started an on-site machine shop. A year later the company ventured into commercial heating and cooling systems, becoming a signatory member of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 87 union.

In 1952, the company hired Andrew Black, a mechanical engineering graduate of Youngstown College. He helped build Prout Boiler’s reputation as a leading boiler repair and installation company. “My father, W. Cortland ‘Cort’ Prout, came on board after graduating from Youngstown College in 1966, also with a mechanical engineering degree, and he launched our plumbing department in 1968,” recalls Wes.

Particularly in the Prout family, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and Wes followed in his father’s footsteps. “I grew up working in the shop since I was a little kid,” he recounts. “I would come to work with my grandfather on Saturdays and worked all throughout high school. In 1991 I graduated from Ohio State with a mechanical engineering degree.”

Wes eventually took over as president when his father died in 1994. Even after 70 years, Prout Boiler’s focus has always been to perform high-quality work. “We’re not growth oriented, we’re quality oriented,” says Wes. “The work we do, we want to do it well.”

Today the company serves eastern Ohio and portions of western Pennsylvania with a 30 to 50 person crew of union plumbers and pipefitters. “Our niche has evolved over the years and now we’re really concentrated on the health care market,” measures Wes. “We do a ton of hospital work in our area and a lot of process piping for local industry.”

Prout Boiler

Fast-track completion with prefab

One of the most monumental projects the company has tackled in recent years is a new patient tower at Salem Regional Medical Center. Prout Boiler’s involvement in the hospital project brought about new challenges not yet faced by contractors in the region. “Prout Boiler is the first company in northeast Ohio to do a multitrade prefab setup and also all of the 3-D modeling and design,” reveals Wes. “The modeling, coordination and design of the racks, pods and headwalls were performed in-house by Mike Savko, a mechanical engineer who handles all of our pre-construction coordination and design.”

To work on the fast-tracked schedule, Prout Boiler incorporated the idea of large-scale prefabrication. “Most new building construction puts the MEP trades on hold until a structure is available to work in,” explains Wes. “With Salem Hospital, however, Prout Boiler took charge with an off-site warehouse and used our in-house design team to coordinate the plumbing, HVAC, fire protection and electrical work.”

This scope included the prefabrication of 60 overhead corridor rack systems, 90 patient room bathroom pods and medical gas headwall units. “This all took place while the general trades were busy erecting the shell of the tower,” says Wes. “Once our racks, pods and headwalls were complete, the construction of the new tower was far enough along to take delivery of the prefabricated items.”

Sam Sargent, plumbing superintendent and Darryl Thomas, HVAC project manager, coordinated and planned the delivery and installation of the racks, pods and headwalls at the jobsite.

“From January to December 2014, we delivered a fully functional, 90-bed hospital,” points out Wes. “It wouldn’t have been possible without the prefabrication because it allowed us to do half of the rough in before the building was even up.”

Some of the benefits of the prefabricated work include a higher level of safety, ease of testing piping systems, organized material handling and improved coordination with various trades. “It doesn’t get any better than this from our end of things; we did all of it in-house,” considers Wes. “Many contractors around here couldn’t begin to handle the prefab end and all of the 3-D modeling. They would shy away from a project like this.”

In-house prefabrication and design have allowed Prout Boiler to capture more jobs in an increasingly competitive contracting segment; that and a solid team of employees, says Wes.

“We’ve been lucky with our core group of guys; many of them haven’t worked for anyone else,” he measures. “We get them in as apprentices and they learn our system and our way. It has worked out well for us for more than 60 years.”

“Our plumbers and pipefitters teach us as well,” adds Wes. “We also have a few younger guys in the office and they’re helping us keep up with technology.”

As a member contractor of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Mahoning Valley, an organization dedicated to uniting HVAC, plumbing, processing piping and refrigeration contractors, Prout Boiler continues to put its team first. “Keeping our key people working is priority; it’s how we know we’re doing well and this isn’t always easy in our industry because the workload varies,” considers Wes.

But family ties and a long-running history in northeastern Ohio keep Prout Boiler Heating & Welding Inc. moving forward.

Published on: July 7, 2015

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