Case Studies

Wm. J. Donovan Co.: Delivering Specialized Sheet Metal and HVAC Excellence

  • Written by: Wm. J. Donovan Co.: Delivering Specialized Sheet Metal and HVAC Excellence
  • Produced by: Wm. J. Donovan Co.: Delivering Specialized Sheet Metal and HVAC Excellence
  • Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Wm. J. Donovan Co. (WMJD) celebrates 100 years of HVAC and specialty sheet metal fabrication services in 2013. WMJD focuses primarily on highly technical and ever-evolving industries, including pharmaceuticals, healthcare, research and higher education.

WMJD has not only made a name for itself in the industry, the company has also made an impact on the community. WMJD is a charter member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Sheet Metal Contractors Association, and has ultimately attracted many talented professionals who remain active in various industry organizations, which include the Mid Atlantic Environmental Balancing Association, the National Environmental Balancing Bureau (NEBB), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning (ASHRAE) and the American Welding Society.

Ed Bransfield, chairman of the board and owner of WMJD, has been with the company for 54 years. Bransfield has always believed in investing internally by training the talented individuals WMJD’s reputation has enabled the company to attract. As a result, WMJD places great emphasis on providing each employee every opportunity to further his or her own career. “I came to WMJD over 35 years ago to complete the last year of my apprenticeship,” recalls Tom DeMusis, president and CEO of WMJD.

DeMusis attests that the company maintains this conscious effort to recruit and prepare its employees to eventually fill the shoes of tenured employees approaching retirement age. “We believe that when an employee shows an interest and an aptitude, you must train them and expose them to all facets of the industry, and if you do that, both the company and the employee will succeed,” asserts DeMusis. “It’s something we did very well when I started, and something we believe we still do well today.”

WMJD maintains a low employee turnover rate and attracts multitalented professionals capable of shifting gears easily to address the project at hand. The Philadelphia-based contractor can tackle everything from ductwork fabrication and installation services to supplying a complete custom-built HVAC unit. The company maintains a level of expertise that allows the WMJD team to design a system specifically for a client’s performance and air quality requirements using state-of-the-art software systems to ensure accuracy and avoid scheduling setbacks.

End-to-end Service

The very same team will then handle the fabrication and installation of the system, but WMJD extends its expertise to the client even after installation and commissioning. The company maintains certification through NEBB to perform complete testing and balancing services on both air and hydronic systems. The results will help WMJD identify any areas in need of improvement; this ensures clients receive a system that operates exactly as needed.

In fact, insulation is the only component WMJD doesn’t regularly self-perform. In those instances, WMJD maintains a short list of highly qualified contacts to recommend if the client or project manager doesn’t already have a preferred specialist for the job.

Furthermore, WMJD often works with clients requiring quick turnaround times and a firm delivery date, requiring the team to mobilize resources efficiently and expediently. Pharmaceutical companies can’t exactly hold off on capital improvement projects without sacrificing output or research and development efforts, while healthcare facilities likewise can’t afford to risk the performance of a facility’s mechanical systems.

“We have a solid network of suppliers that we know we can depend on because our clients often have very demanding schedules,” adds DeMusis. “The technical requirements for our type of work are often so stringent that you just can’t shop for a better price without considering performance.”

For the Life Cycle of the System

In doing so, WMJD positions itself to support each client throughout the life cycle of mechanical systems, as WMJD has done for both the University of Pennsylvania’s Ruth and Raymond Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine and its affiliated Roberts Proton Therapy Center. WMJD helped build the shared facility in 2006, when the project broke ground at an estimated cost of $232 million. That number eventually blossomed into a full $302 million, making it by far the largest capital improvement project ever undertaken by PENN Medicine, the joint organization between the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the university’s School of Medicine.

The 500,000-square foot outpatient care facility provides enough space to house 300,000 square feet of clinical space, a full cancer program, cardiovascular services and eight outpatient operating rooms for outpatient surgery. The building also provides 32 preoperative and recovery beds, 72 exam rooms, 82 chemotherapy/infusion bays and a patient support department equipped with a library, counseling, meditation rooms and a garden. “The facility contains over 2 million pounds of ductwork, so it’s definitely one of our larger projects,” states DeMusis. “And we’re still working in those buildings.”

The WMJD team continues to complete fit-out and renovation work on the systems as needed. The team has also been asked to contribute its expertise on the next phase of building at the Center for Advanced Medicine. The university announced a partnership with pharmaceutical leader Novartis and the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in August 2012. The organizations will be coming together to build the Center for Advanced Cellular Therapies on the university’s campus, for which WMJD has begun preliminary work.

The future looks busy for WMJD as clients continue to invite the team back for retrofits, renovations and maintenance work alike. The WMJD team looks forward to the company’s 100-year anniversary in 2013, as Wm. J. Donovan Co. will have many reasons to celebrate and just as many close colleagues, friends and family to invite to the party.

Published on: June 29, 2013

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