Bruin’s Plumbing & Heating Ltd: The Bear That Cares

Bruin’s Plumbing & Heating Ltd. (BPH) is a family-owned and -operated plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning company based in Red Deer, Alberta. Marty Bruin, general manager of BPH, is proud to be the third generation of Bruins in the plumbing and HVAC business. The family business began when Marty’s grandparents, Cor and Riea, founded the company in 1965. Herman, Marty’s father and current president of BPH, is happy to continue the tradition today.

BPH had only three employees over its first few years of business, including Herman and his parents. The family completed residential repairs and small installations around Red Deer. The Bruins hired their first employee in 1968, and from there the company grew steadily. Today the business has 150 employees, including division specialists and management.

Marty has been working full time at the company for 20 years. “I started right out of high school,” he says. “And before that I’d work part time.” The business will be celebrating its 50-year anniversary in 2015, and Marty expects a small celebration. “Nothing too crazy,” he laughs. “The goal will be to thank all of the business’ valued clients and employees for their service, some of whom have been with BPH for over four decades.”

All in the Family

Besides the blood-related family working at BPH – Marty’s sister, Corinna, and some of his nieces and nephews – the company has established a work environment that treats every employee as part of the family. “It takes everyone working together as a team to make the company successful,” explains Marty. This is evident, as some of the company’s staff has been with BPH for several decades.

“They play a vital role in our operations,” Marty continues. “Some of our supervisors and managers started here as apprentices 30, even 40 years ago.” Long-term employment is important to both Marty and Herman. This is why the company holds a yearly awards and appreciation banquet for its employees to recognize years of hard work and career accomplishments.

Even when the recession hit, leaving the new construction market struggling, Marty’s goal was to keep his entire staff working. The company was fortunate to pick up two large commercial projects while work in the residential sector dipped. “We shifted some of our manpower from residential to commercial applications,” Marty recalls. “Everyone performed really well on the commercial projects.” And Marty is proud to report that there were virtually no layoffs at BPH during that time.

BPH doesn’t only treat its employees like family; the Bruins’ warm embrace has also touched many others lives. Marty and the family encourage employees to participate in community organizations, as the Bruins themselves offer donations periodically to various local and national organizations. The family has also contributed to Red Deer College, the city hospital’s pediatric ward, Festival of Tree’s, Safety City, Build a Kid to Cure and many other causes. The company’s employees serve as community board members, volunteer for local organizations, and participate in fundraisers throughout the year as well.

Diverse Services

Then there is business, and the company excels there as well. BPH offers a wide variety of products and services, as each employee brings something special to the table. “We have an over-the-counter retail operation for do-it-yourselfers,” Marty says. “We have an experienced journeyman in sales at the counter.”

The company’s experienced technicians offer maintenance and service options for residential and commercial clients. Members of what the business has dubbed The Bear Care Club receive yearly tune-ups on a flexible scheduling plan and discounts on parts and repair labor. BPH is available around the clock for emergencies, and has recently added furnace and duct cleaning to the list of available services.

The team of professional installers works on new construction projects, renovations and retrofits on commercial and residential properties. “It’s about 50-50 between commercial and residential,” says Marty. The installation team works for several regional general contractors, many of whom seek out BPH on repeat terms because of the company’s experience and reliability. “We usually work within an 80- to 100-kilometer radius of Red Deer,” says Marty, but BHP has sent specialists as far as Fort McMurray and parts of Saskatchewan to work with repeat, quality contractors on projects.

The company performs everything in-house on the residential side of business, but on the commercial side the team utilizes the services of valuable subcontractor partners. “As a mechanical contractor we don’t sub any plumbing, but we do sub sheet metal, insulation and sprinklers on commercial projects,” Marty explains.

BPH keeps a close network of around six major suppliers. “It varies based on equipment and materials,” Marty says. “We really value all of our supplier and professional partners; they are an integral part of what we do.” BPH’s residential projects range from multifamily residences to large, custom homes. The team performs a variety of installations from standard plumbing and HVAC to hydronics, which has recently grown in popularity for efficiency.

Project sizes range from small, private residences and retail shops up to enormous office buildings, schools and more. “In 2010 we completed an office tower in downtown Red Deer,” Marty elaborates. “It’s called Executive Place.” The multistory building features retail and office space, as well as underground parking and opened to renters in early 2011. The Executive Place project was one of a few major commercial builds that Marty says helped keep business up through the recession.

BPH also completed a project in early 2012 at Olds College in Olds, Alberta. “We did major mechanical upgrades,” says Marty. The renovation included full replacement of boilers, cooling systems and related components. “We worked within a tight timeframe,” he explains. “There were multiple buildings, so organization and coordination was key.”

The company’s technicians were responsible for removing the old equipment, which Marty says was large and bulky. “It was a complicated project, and we had to focus on taking care of every aspect without interfering with the day-to-day operations of the college,” he explains. Well-executed scheduling allowed the project to go off without a hitch and Marty says it was a big success.

BPH’s customers have come to expect consistent, friendly service from the company’s many specialists, each of whom performs service and installation work in a timely professional manner. Communication is a major component of customer relations at the business, and the staff is always willing to walk clients through the process and offer support before, during and after service or installation. Bruin’s Plumbing & Heating Ltd. offers professional work at competitive rates with a friendly disposition.