Welch and Rushe Inc.
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Chuck McKenna
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
In 1966, Linden Welch and Jim Rushe founded Welch and Rushe Inc. (WRI) as a two-man plumbing operation. Working out of an attic in Forest Heights, Md., the company has experienced steady growth for over four decades. In that time, the company has diversified greatly. With a staff of nearly 200, the large business has taken a leading position in the regional market, serving the Washington, D.C., Metro area and Maryland. Today, the family business is led by Linden’s son, David Welch, CEO of WRI. David grew up in the business. “My father was always a plumber,” he says,” and I am a steamfitter. I worked some summers with him in high school and have always loved this business. I got started in the industry full time in 1987. I worked for four or five of our competitors to really see what was going on in the industry. I worked here on and off as well, before taking over the business in 2000. There are a number of us involved in the company. My nephew, my daughter and my cousin all work here.” Committed Service “We are on the cutting edge of technology and products in the mechanical contractor business,” David elaborates. The team provides services in plumbing, HVAC, mechanical contracting and controls among other unique capabilities. The continued diversification has drawn a large customer base for new system installations, retrofits, maintenance and repair. “Lately our niche has been mechanical solutions for historical and government buildings,” David adds. “We are a commercial contractor with about 50 percent of our work for the government and 50 percent in the private sector.” WRI operates out of two regional locations, with one office in Washington, D.C. and the other in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. This gives the team quick access to the main service area, however as the company has grown, projects have expanded WRI’s geographic footprint, even taking the business overseas. With a growing reach and strong rapport in the market, WRI has completed a number of complex projects over the years. “We recently worked on the Eisenhower Executive Office Building,” says David. “That was a full remodel where we performed all of the mechanical work. We’ve done the Pentagon and a mechanical renovation for the German Embassy, which has multiple buildings. One of our most interesting recent projects has been the Fanny Mae building, where we changed over two full mechanical rooms. We were both the general contractor and the mechanical contractor for that job, with only five weeks to complete it. Later this year, we will be working on the International Monetary Fund headquarters. That is going to be a huge project.” Maintaining a Market Share WRI has managed to stay afloat, despite the economic challenges that have faced many contractors across the country in recent years. “In 2006 and 2007 there was more work than contractors,” David explains. “Now there are more contractors than work so relationships are even more important. Before it was more bids that got you more work, but now jobs are dependent on relationships. We tend to build a solid foundation on customer service. It’s important because in the construction industry it’s all about staying busy and getting that next job. We have a number of repeat customers. “Throughout the recession, we invested heavily in the business,” he continues “We didn’t reduce our cost, but instead cut back on staff. We built a prefabrication facility to build pipes for projects. Now, we continue to run the company smarter. We are doing much more with less these days and we have almost surpassed our revenue from before the recession.” David’s continual challenge and goal is to keep employees motivated and productive while maintaining profitability. “Employee turnover is a stressful part of running a business,” he explains. “And because our line of work is construction, we want to keep safe. We worry about that all the time. Fortunately, we have great employees. With those employees, we continue to grow, always trying to better ourselves. The economy is not getting any worse, although we are seeing very slow and small steps towards improvement. I think it will be a few more years before we see a real turnaround. It isn’t easy, but we continue to go after new jobs and keep building on relationships.” In 2016, WRI will celebrate 50 years in business. With a string of major projects down the pipeline, the company will continue to offer experience, service and professionalism to major clients across the region and abroad. Internal management remains strong, and Welch and Rushe Inc. is well on its way to recovery and steady growth.
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