When people consider the plumbing contractors that work with Local 12, they often think of the larger shops working at job sites for high-rise towers and other signature projects under construction in and around Boston. For good reason. Members of the Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association, which employ Local 12 plumbers, build virtually every major new project in the city. But that’s only part of the story.
There are shops of all sizes, doing a wide variety of work, which are affiliated with Local 12. Shops such as Glionna Plumbing and Heating.
Mike Glionna started the business in 2010 with himself and one employee. Initially, he focused on residential service and light commercial work. Glionna hired two additional plumbers as he developed new clients, including property managers in downtown Boston. The Saugus-based shop also worked on new construction throughout the region, much of it based on the North Shore.
In 2014, Glionna wanted to expand and go after larger projects, especially prevailing-wage, public-bid work. To help grow the business, he brought in Anthony Pitrone to serve as the company’s director of operations. The two friends have known each other for 25 years, dating back to high school when they were classmates at Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School in Wakefield. After graduating, they apprenticed together for a plumbing contractor. Pitrone worked his way up to foreman at the shop after Glionna left to start his own business.
As part of the company’s expansion, Glionna partnered with his aunt, Mary Jo Mathews. With a background in architectural engineering and experience in the construction industry, Mathews focuses on management issues and keeps the office humming.
Among the projects Glionna and Pitrone were able to land after joining forces was a 10,000-square-foot dialysis clinic in Danvers. That led to more new clinics in Fairhaven and Westborough. The shop also got a project renovating an old public school in Lynn that was converted into Aspire Developmental Services, a private, nonprofit healthcare and educational agency. After bidding public construction jobs, Glionna got its feet wet in the sector with projects for the Mashpee and North Reading housing authorities. The shop also got some bigger projects, including a 32-unit, mixed-use building in South Boston.
“We knew what the endgame was,” Pitrone says. “We always had the idea to go with the union.” He notes that his dad worked for the city of Revere doing maintenance, and Glionna’s father was an operating engineer. “We came from the union world in our families.”
In 2018, Glionna got to work alongside a number of Local 12-affiliated shops when he and a four-person crew helped the recovery efforts in the wake of the natural gas disaster that rocked Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover and disrupted service to about 8,500 Columbia Gas customers.
“Mike and his crew worked incredibly hard and put in a ton of systems in the Merrimack Valley,” says Pitrone. “He bought a box truck and basically lived in it up there for three months.”
At the end of 2018, as the initial recovery efforts were winding down, Glionna became a signatory contractor with Local 12. “We wanted to sign with the union, because we knew it would help us grow our business,” Pitrone explains. “If we had Local 12 behind us, we knew we could get the trained, high-quality plumbers we needed to do any kind of work. There’d be no limit.”
With the union’s backing, Glionna, which is now based in Middleton, has expanded to a 13-member crew and is bidding and securing a lot of new work. One of its public-bid projects is a three-story addition to the McCall Middle School in Winchester. The expansion includes four classrooms, three science labs, gang bathrooms, two locker rooms, and a roof drainage system. Projects under contract include a public safety building in Essex, fire stations in Dracut and Waltham, and Excel Academy, a charter school in East Boston.
Tim Fandel, Local 12’s business manager is thrilled to have Glionna in the fold. “We need to reengage in the public sector,” he says, citing his plans to focus more on municipal and state-funded projects. “We like to take a contractor like Glionna and help them position themselves for the next level of public work.”
Partnering with Local 12 has helped the shop in a number of ways. Pitrone says that the plumbers who work for them are getting great benefits and pay and their morale and happiness has never been better. Also, the training they are receiving through the local is helping them learn and hone skills and enabling the company to go after different types of jobs.
Pitrone says the future is bright and that Glionna Plumbing hopes to double in size over the next few years.