Case Studies

River Mechanical Inc.

Plumbing and HVAC construction and service in eastern Pennsylvania

Kevin McFadden, owner and founder of River Mechanical Inc., has been in the mechanical contracting business since he could walk. He got his start sweeping the floors of another contractor’s shop as a child and later progressed through a union apprenticeship program. Once he had some field experience under his belt, McFadden worked his way through the ranks, serving as a project manager and later the vice president of another business. He established River Mechanical in 1997 as his own one-stop shop for mechanical services in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

For 18 years, the business has maintained a pattern of steady, sustainable growth. While River Mechanical is best known as a mechanical construction company, McFadden also owns River Mechanical Services Inc. – a separate entity that works in conjunction with the parent business and focuses exclusively on maintenance and service work. Together, his two companies run the full gamut of mechanical contracting, targeting new construction projects, existing properties and renovation projects.

At peak season, River Mechanical employs as many as 115 professionals. With strong ties to the union, aided by involvement with the Mechanical Contractors Association of Eastern Pennsylvania (MCA-EPA), the company benefits from a steady stream of qualified employees. McFadden and his team are prepared to take on a range of contracts in the Tristate area, although he says that most of the company’s projects are in and around Philadelphia.

Broad capabilities

Over the years, McFadden and his team have taken on a range of complicated projects. River Mechanical works in the commercial, institutional and industrial markets, with a client base that includes contractors, hospitals, schools, and even the National Park Service. With diverse capabilities and flexible manpower resources, the company is able to tackle projects large or small throughout the region.

One of the team’s most complex projects in recent years has been the completion of plumbing and HVAC systems in a 35-story high-rise building. “This project was crazy fast,” says McFadden. “We completed plumbing for 850 bathrooms and all of the HVAC in about  10 months. That job was about $17 million, which was the biggest at the time, but we consistently have a number of smaller projects and service contracts going as well.”

The Philadelphia market has presented the team with a range of opportunities. River Mechanical currently has a lot of public school and charter school work as well as medical gas and piping, among other projects. “One of our biggest clients is the Pennsylvania Hospital,” McFadden elaborates. “We have been the leading maintenance contractor for them over the last 15 years. That’s a long time and we have a great relationship with them.”

The company also works in a strong partnership with Sherman Engineering, a medical gas piping company. “They sell high-end equipment, so when hospitals request turnkey installation, we have been their installing contractor,” says McFadden. “To do this, contractors have to have a medical gas certification. We have that, and while other contractors can get it, we have been the preferred contractor for Sherman Engineering.”

The company’s capabilities are widespread. “We love to do renovation work,” notes McFadden. “We are very good at that. We are also very knowledgeable and experienced with medical gas, and we are competitive in the high-rise market, which has been picking up last few years. We also do a lot of service work at the airport as well as other more unusual contracts.”

In the “unusual” category, McFadden and his team completed plumbing installation for a unique fountain at Philadelphia’s City Hall. The $4 million fountain required assembly and welding of all stainless steel piping. The high-profile project is now on display in the City of Brotherly Love. Also in Philadelphia, the company was awarded the plumbing and HVAC contract for the 52-story W Hotel at 15th and Chestnut Streets.

Maintaining growth

Though the recent economic downturn presented obstacles to consistent growth, the business is on the right track for the coming years. McFadden and his team prioritize close management and feedback from strategic partners when making decisions. “We have great industry relationships and we bid competitively,” he says. “We have a strong backlog of work for the coming year and we are waiting to hear on some more work in Philadelphia. The city seems to be a hotbed for construction right now.”

River Mechanical also benefits from MCA-EPA membership. “The greatest advantage has been the industry connections we make,” says McFadden. “We have built relationships with other contractors, vendors and owners through the association.”

Over the coming years, McFadden and his colleagues will continue to build up River Mechanical Inc. through forging strong partnerships in the industry.

Published on: August 18, 2015

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