Sheet Metal Today

Sheet Metal Today

Indoor Air Handler
According to Greenheck, its Model LFC indoor air handler provides a low-cost method of cooling and/or heating in applications where space is limited, such as schools, office buildings, churches, apartments, and condominiums.

The horizontal Model LFC low profile fan coil is available in eight different sizes, and covers a performance range from 300 through 4,700 cfm and up to 3.5 in wg. Every fan features insulated double wall housing and an internally isolated drive frame, in order to reduce the potential for noise transmitting through the ductwork.

Model LFC has a standard removable stainless steel drain pan and four access panels for easy accessibility for cleaning and maintenance.

For more information about Greenheck products, visit www.greenheck.com.


GUNDLACH SHEET METAL WORKS:
Quality and Service for Five Generations — and Counting

BY RON RAJECKI, EXECUTIVE EDITOR

A belt line dominated the floor of the Gundlach Sheet Metal Works in the 1930s (left). In the same room today, a coil line and plasma cutting table are the main features. The company has occupied the same building in downtown Sandusky, OH for more than 100 years.

Generations four and five of Gundlach Sheet Metal Works, Roger Gundlach and his son, Andrew.


Is genetics the secret to operating a successful sheet metal company through five generations? Roger Gundlach, president of Gundlach Sheet Metal Works, Inc., Sandusky, OH won't discount the notion. "We've been very lucky here with our family business, and we've avoided the in-fighting that hurts many family businesses, because all of us have different skills, and we all have a mutual respect for each others' skills. I serve as president, because my skills tend along the business lines. But no one here is any more or less important than anyone else."

This low-key, teamwork-based approach has served Gundlach Sheet Metal Works well through 115 years and five generations. The company was founded in 1889 by Roger's great-grandfather, Charles William Gundlach I. Charles was a tinner who manufactured lids for canning jars and — in a foreshadowing of the company's eventual move into HVAC sheet metal — stove pipe.

In the early days of the 20th century, the company established its location in downtown Sandusky, a small, quiet city along the south shore of Lake Erie between Cleveland and Toledo. The small and quiet didn't last for long, however. Paper mills and foundries sprang up along the lakefront, and the city experienced rapid growth during the post-World War II housing boom.

Gundlach, from the same downtown location it has occupied for more than 100 years, grew along with the city. It expanded into residential heating work in the 1920s and 30s, tapped into the commercial/industrial markets in the 40s and 50s, and was there when homeowners began clamoring for air conditioning in the 1970s. Along the way, it found its niche in sheet metal subcontracting.

Today, Gundlach has 44 employees and does roughly $6 million in business per year. In 2004, the numbers broke down this way: $3.6 million, commercial and industrial construction; $1.2 million commercial/industrial service; and $900,000 residential service. The company produces about 300,000 lbs. of sheet metal products per year, mainly for general contractors and Design/Build mechanical contractors. Gundlach also does digital controls work and provides commercial refrigeration service.

In 2005, schools and healthcare are big markets for Gundlach. The company's ability to fabricate and install ductwork helped it land a lucrative piece of a $20 million addition underway at a local hospital.

Strong Union, Strong Company
Gundlach Sheet Metal Works has always been a strong union shop. Roger Gundlach's grandfather, Carl, served several years as president of the Ohio Sheet Metal Association, and 11 years as treasurer of the Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA). Roger and his father, Charles W. Gundlach II, both served several terms as president of SMACNA of North Central Ohio.

Terry Gundlach, the shop foreman, praises the company's constant emphasis on safety training, and cites its training programs as evidence of how Gundlach treats its people.

"We really stress teamwork here," Terry says. "Everyone gets treated equally, and that carries over to how we treat our customers. Big or small, it doesn't matter, we're going to take care of them."

Always humble, Roger says, "My job is to help my people do their jobs better." Part of that is requiring that his service technicians follow Carrier's ProTecs training all the way through passage of North American Technician Excellence (NATE) exams. ProTecs training consists of five stages, the fourth of which is passage of the NATE core exam. All of Gundlach's 12 technicians are enrolled in the program. Four have passed the entire series through ProTecs level five; several others are through ProTecs level three.

Gundlach Sheet Metal Works has a good relationship with a local HVAC training program at Terra Community College in Fremont, OH, which provides the company with excellent candidates for its technician training program. And make no mistake that Roger sees trained, qualified people as the future of not only his company, but also the sheet metal industry as a whole.

Tackling Today's Trends
"I see two major trends in the sheet metal industry," Roger Gundlach says. "And although they may appear to be different, they're actually related.

"The first is the trend toward larger jobs. Many more customers are undertaking large-scale expansions or reconstructions, and they need a contractor partner who's able to physically handle those needs."

The second trend, Roger says, is the importance of people. "These bigger jobs move incredibly fast. In many cases, by the time you're awarded the contract, you're already behind. That's why we really focus on making our mechanics wellrounded. To complete their apprenticeship here, they must be able to fabricate and install ductwork, roll pipe, weld stainless steel, and set curbs. When we send them out into the field, they know they're ready."

Being technically ready and confident leads to what Roger says is the most important trait he hopes to instill in his people: leadership. "The mechanic who wants to be a leader is what we need in the fast-paced environment of today's sheet metal industry," he says.

So, while Roger Gundlach may humbly claim that genetics may have something to do with his company's five generations of success, it appears that an old formula of education, teamwork, and empowerment may be in play here, too. "We're not necessarily big and showy, but we're proud of our products and our people," he says.

Roger may have a little while longer to remain proud. His cousin, Terry Gundlach, recently brought his 11-year-old son, Tyler, in for his first look-round. It's easy to picture the floor of the 100-year-old headquarters feeling just a little extra reverberation at the first footsteps of the sixth generation.

For more information about Gundlach Sheet Metal Works, visit www.gundlach-hvac.com.

TAGS: Archive
Hide comments

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish