In an old, revitalized industrial building in Downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana, family-owned mechanical contractor, Current Mechanical, is busy with its dozens of staff, fixing, improving, renovating and helping build the regions’ hospitals, schools, businesses, and residences.
With over 40 years of experience, this innovative business takes on the tasks of revitalizing a community, promoting sustainability, and helping to train Indiana’s future mechanical workers, while keeping infrastructure, businesses and residences comfortable.
Current Mechanical specializes in commercial and residential heating, air conditioning, and plumbing, as well as custom piping, process piping and operating a 23,000 square-foot ultra-modern pre-fab shop.
“We employ highly trained plumbers, steam fitters, welders, and HVAC mechanics,” says Ted Current, Vice President and CFO of Current Mechanical. Ted’s father started the business in 1978, and his two brothers also occupy senior management positions.
Program of CARE
“We created our CARE program to ensure that the service we provide is at or above the level of service purchased,” Ted says. It seems a modest way to say that Current Mechanical takes care to give its customers more than they asked for, or expected.
So it’s fitting that the company identifies its intense customer-interface process, Customer Assurance Review and Evaluation, as CARE. It has four major components: an adherence to a strict code of ethics, agreement startup procedures, ongoing evaluation and assessments and action plans.
“With an agreement in place, the customer’s equipment will run more efficiently, reducing wear and tear on other systems. A planned maintenance agreement can better maintain a comfortable environment, increasing productivity, and improving air quality.
“Each one of our maintenance customers goes through a voluntary process where they provide verbal and written feedback to us related to the services received,” says Ted. “We use this feedback to continually improve our service and deliver unmatched value to our customers. Our goal is to listen to the customer and design better solutions to meet their needs on an ongoing basis.”
The hospital standard
Well-planned maintenance is especially important in Current Mechanical’s work in hospitals. Hospitals can’t just shut down for a week to do upgrades and Current Mechanical’s staff are well-versed in upgrading, replacing and installing systems, while avoiding negative impact on workflow.
“There’s a lot more at stake when an oxygen system, a medical gas system, or an air conditioning system in a surgery room has a problem. You have to be able to address it and get it fixed in a quick and efficient manner, while realizing that you’re in an active hospital,” says Ted. “You might have to shut down water to a certain part that could impact other floors, so you need to be very careful and meticulous in that environment.
“This past summer we spent considerable time having one of our people identify all the valves in a hospital, because sometimes when hospitals are built on a budget, they may not put extra valves in place to deal with unexpected breakdowns.”
Current Mechanical’s four decades of work means its staff are prepared to handle complicated and unexpected situations, according to Ted. “Our people are certified to work on medical gas systems and get re-certified on a continual basis to ensure they have the skill-set to deliver.”
An essential part of Current Mechanical’s success is a work culture that encourages continuous training. It works closely with a training center to coach apprentice trainees and to identify and recruit the best in class to join its ranks. Tim Current, Vice President and Service Manager, is a certified instructor and has been teaching advanced blue print reading and drafting to apprentices for over 23 years.
“Our partnership with a training center has helped us keep up with demand for new workers,” says Ted. “We’re able to partner with the training center to make sure we’re getting new and qualified people to work with us – to mentor the next leaders so they’re ready when their mentors retire.”
Apprentices that do end up working for Current Mechanical as journeymen are put through additional training and certification which may include several various certifications for commercial journeymen and the North American Technician Excellence Certification for residential journeymen. Current Mechanical also works with its supplier partners to obtain equipment specific training certifications.
Current Mechanical has been recognized by the Mechanical Service Contractors of America as a MSCA Green STAR contractor, meaning it has met or exceeded qualifications in outstanding business practices; employed the best trained and qualified workforce; and has a comprehensive safety program record as well as exceptional customer service and training of staff.
“Whether it’s a school or a hospital, we take good pride in our work and our quality. Our people work on several different types of systems and I feel they take the same care and attitude towards quality working in a hospital as they do when they’re working in a school, a residence, in a manufacturing plant or in a food and beverage related facility.”
Current Mechanical’s care for its clients extends to the natural environment as well. It has been involved in many LEED projects, such as the Platinum Certified Sweetwater Sound Facility.
“We try to be good environmental stewards and pass that ability on to our customers,” says Ted. “A few years back we made the decision to go paperless. Now all of the workers have electronic tablets which incorporate maintenance task lists, which means maintenance is easier to schedule and document.”
Delivering the right maintenance at the right time minimizes disruptive breakdowns and saves clients time and costly equipment repairs.
“As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. Making sure your heating and air-conditioning system is performing efficiently can save on your monthly utility bills,” Ted says.
The company helps clients by assessing a years’ worth of energy bills and equipment efficiency in order to offer solutions that are cost effective for clients.
Green and sustainable
Current Mechanical’s move toward sustainability first started in-house. In 2001, it moved shop to an abandoned warehouse in downtown Fort Wayne: “We took steps to make our own building in downtown Fort Wayne, a brownfield project, as green and sustainable as possible,” recounts Ted.
The old building, which used to be a brewery, had been boarded up, with sprinkler pipes and roof drains frozen and broken, and tons of equipment left to rust. The renovation of this rundown facility was part of a community-wide revitalization effort.
The Current family bought and renovated the over 250,000 square-foot complex which sat on a 10-acre lot. Part of the building was used as a headquarters for Current Mechanical, including a pre-fab shop, while other spaces were rented out as offices to doctors, engineering firms, and even to Habitat for Humanity.
All of these efforts over the past two decades have helped to revitalize the area. “Bergstaff Place is now one of most popular venues in the city for wedding receptions,” Ted says.
A year from the date of completion of the building, Mayor Graham Richards of Indiana proclaimed that day Current Mechanical 25th Anniversary Day. Ted says, “The city of Fort Wayne commended Current Mechanical for its economic value to the city and for its pioneering spirit as demonstrated by its investment in the Bergstaff renovation.”
Although no-one knew it at the time, this would be only the start of Current Mechanical’s involvement in neighborhood revitalization.
“When the recession hit in 2008, one-third of the workforce related to the construction industry was lost,” Ted recalls. Such was the severity of the slowdown that practically every company similar to Current Mechanical suffered losses. While Current Mechanical was able to adapt, steady itself, and eventually grow through the downturn, others weren’t so lucky.
With growing poverty and unemployment, the Current family saw many people fall through the cracks. Tragically, some turned to drugs and some became homeless.
Tom Current, President of Current Mechanical, wanted to do more to help those caught up in a situation not of their making. When the opportunity presented itself Tom was able to help The Rescue Mission – a non-profit, faith-based organization that helps the homeless, offering services that provided food security, emergency beds, short-term housing and help with addiction – with their new location by selling them the land for their new location.
A few years ago, The Rescue Mission was made aware of the city’s intentions to buy their property under eminent domain. This gave The Rescue Mission some time to prepare to relocate. Tom Current jumped on the opportunity to help out and happened to know of a great downtown location that would meet their needs. They will end up moving this summer downtown to a location on the same street as us, East Washington Boulevard,” recounts Ted.
“Knowing the impact it would have on the community, we sharpened our pencils and did everything we could to be part of that team, because we believed in the vision and the commitment to help the homeless in our community.
“What’s promising about the new building is that they will be able to take somebody who might have a drug or alcohol problem, and help them right away, versus sending them away and telling them they couldn’t help them until they got sober,” says Ted, “something they couldn’t do at the old location.
The bigger picture
“Nowadays with the opioid epidemic and everything else that’s out there, I think it’s great to be part of a team that’s going to bring so much positivity to the issues that all our communities are facing these days,” says Ted.
“Our vision is to not only be a great mechanical contractor but good environmental stewards and good citizens by working alongside others to improve the community.”
After more than 40 years of working on commercial and residential projects, with sustained and outstanding results – and on the side helping to build and strengthen the community – Current Mechanical is clearly one of those admirable companies that keeps the bigger picture in mind.
Indeed, the picture is of a dedicated, well-run business and care for the community, hand in hand and reinforcing one another for the common good.