The Waterproofing Co.
Founded in 1905, Boston-based The Waterproofing Co. (TWC) is one of the oldest waterproofing companies in the U.S. When the original TWC was established in New York City at the turn of the century, there were few companies like it and there are still few today that can compete with the level of quality and expertise TWC has delivered for more than 109 years.
TWC grew around its patent for Cow Bay Cement, a waterproofing material troweled onto the interior face of concrete formations. The young company also pioneered exterior foundation coatings, combing asbestos with asphalt to make a mastic coating that still clings to some old buildings today.
“After returning from World War I, my grandfather, Blanchard Ford, sold asbestos for TWC,” recounts Charles A. Ford, third-generation president of TWC. “He was transferred to Hollywood, Calif., in the late 1920s but was eager to return to his East Coast roots.”
Boston stays strong
When TWC’s New York office offered Blanchard a position running its new Boston branch, he eagerly took the job and moved his family back to New England. “Legend has it that the New York office went under in the Depression and the Boston branch was the sole survivor,” recalls Ford.
With the only doors remaining open in TWC, Blanchard was left has the owner of the company and soon his son, Charles C. Ford joined the company after serving in World War II. Blanchard’s nickname, “Tinker” came about out of his lifelong interest in tinkering on machines and coming up with methods to make work flow smoother. TWC continued to grow under his knack for innovation and loyalty to clients and employees.
“The company remains in the family,” shares Ford. “I’m third generation but there are plenty of fourth-generation family members as well.”
Ford’s story parallels his grandfather’s journey into the industry. “In the early 1980s, I spent summers working at TWC, but after college I worked in property management and real estate development,” he recalls. “I also managed for a TWC competitor in San Francisco -Western Waterproofing.”
But Ford eventually came back to the family business and today fosters that same sense of innovation Blanchard set in motion. “We’re no longer the largest company in our trade, but our quality workmanship and depth of knowledge make us a preferred subcontractor for manufacturers introducing new products and general contractors tackling complex jobs,” assures Ford.
Today, as a member contractor of the Associated Subcontractors of Massachusetts (ASM), TWC employs 37 full-time individuals in the Greater Boston area. “We’re a specialty water proofing and masonry restoration subcontractor and we mainly work in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island,” notes Ford. “We stick to projects in this area because there are plenty of university and hospital projects.”
Improving the new and old
Ford says TWC targets new construction projects to keep its crews running consistently year-round. “We don’t seek out nearly as much restoration work in the guided belief that specializing in new construction keeps more guys employed and fosters more efficient, safer work than our competition,” he explains. “Other guys ramp up to massive crews in the spring and summer and fall off in the fall and winter, but we keep our crews running year-round.”
But that’s not to say TWC doesn’t do restoration at all, in fact Ford cites one of the company’s most interesting projects on the books as the Beechwood Museum restoration and conversion in Newport, R.I. “The scope of this project involved converting the Astor Mansion into a museum, including various phases of serious waterproofing,” he recounts. “The project also included a completely underground mechanical plant.”
TWC is also performing renovations of Harvard University’s student housing facilities. “We’re renovating and performing waterproofing below grade on these dormitories, which are more like houses,” reveals Ford.
On the new construction side, TWC delivers air barriers, vehicular and mechanical room traffic deck coatings, caulking and sealants, membrane waterproofing, water repellent sealers, thruwall flashing, damproofing above and below grade, as well as expanding grout injection and metallic and cementitous waterproofing. “We’re currently working on 75 Ames Street, a research facility near MIT,” shares Ford. “This 18-story building involves elaborate under-slab waterproofing. The general contractor is using LEAN planning, a new kind of scheduling process to deliver the project.”
Even in a post-recession economy, Ford says he doesn’t see any sign of a slowdown soon. “Things are picking back up around here,” he says. More general contractors and owners keep calling on The Waterproofing Co. for 109 years of experience and know-how.
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