It goes without saying that construction is a major contributor to the U.S. economy. The industry has more than 733,000 employers with more than 7 million employees and creates nearly $1.4 trillion worth of structures each year. Construction is also one of the largest customers for manufacturing, mining and a variety of services. Here, Jay Spaeder, president of the Wm. T. Spaeder Co., Inc. in Erie, Pennsylvania, discusses the company, the regional construction market and the “construction renaissance.”
Wm. T. Spaeder Co., Inc. has been a leader in comprehensive mechanical contracting for more than 100 years. Tell us about how the family owned company got its start.
My grandfather, William T. Spaeder, began his business working out of his parents’ home in 1914. He took a brief hiatus to join the Navy during WWI. After returning home to Erie, he married Julia Lochner and started a family. He built their home on 25th Street in Erie, PA, and in the backyard, constructed his first shop made from WWI army surplus materials. Some of his earliest employees were his brothers Lawrence and Carl. From that point, the business continued to grow. He and Julia had 11 children, and all but two worked in the business. Today, we continue their legacy. Even though many different people from a variety of backgrounds work for Spaeder, we look at them all as part of our work family — a team, dedicated to our customers and striving towards a common goal of offering quality craftsmanship and sharing in our family values.
Over the years, Wm. T. Spaeder Co. has evolved from a small plumbing firm into one of the largest and most respected contractors in northwest Pennsylvania. Tell us about the firm today.
Spaeder employs more than 200 people including both office workers and union personnel that provide a vast array of services. Our primary focus for work is within 100 miles of our company headquarters in Erie, but we will travel for the right project. We also have satellite offices in Buffalo and North Pittsburgh, which have helped us continue to expand in those markets. We have been contracted in places as distant as Las Vegas, Nevada and have shipped fabricated materials as far as Egypt.
Tell us about the services Wm. T. Spaeder Co. provides.
Wm. T. Spaeder Company is a comp- rehensive mechanical contractor. We focus on plumbing, mechanical, industrial process piping, wastewater treatment, and fire protection for our target markets. There is no job too small or large that we will not consider bidding. We have done everything from residential homes to schools to large/heavy industrial work. We have a group of specialists that focus on service repair and maintenance work for a wide range of disciplines, including plumbing, HVAC, kitchen equipment, water treatment and fire protection.
Wm. T. Spaeder Co. has played an integral role in numerous commercial and institutional projects over the years. Tell us about some of your most recent work.
Our company is proud to play a part in many of the new and ongoing projects in Erie and the surrounding areas. We performed the plumbing and HVAC work on the new Erie Insurance Office Building. It was one of the largest commercial jobs for our company.
Other recent commercial jobs include the Erie Insurance Arena plumbing renovation, Warner Theatre fire protection, work on the EDDC renovations, and the UPMC Hamot Patient Care Tower, which included both plumbing and fire protection. We have also completed institutional jobs throughout the campuses of Gannon, Mercyhurst, and Penn State Behrend and were recently the successful low bidder for the plumbing and fire protection at Fairview High School for their new addition. The Millcreek School District has also kept us busy in recent years with various, large projects throughout the school district.
The construction industry is a major contributor to the U.S. economy, including the regional market. What do you see as the greatest benefits of the industry in our region?
Over the past few years, there has been a sort of “construction renaissance.” Many of the major hospitals in the Erie area (and beyond) have had large construction projects. School projects have been ongoing and have kept us busy. Lastly, the work that is being done downtown with Erie Insurance, Warner Theatre, UPMC ballpark, and the EDDC has been great for our community. With further development along the waterfront, we are excited for Erie’s future, and we hope to continue to be a part of it.
For more information, visit wmtspaeder.com.