Like his father and his grandfather before him, Brian Gerrior, Jr. would have been happy working in the field as a union pipefitter for his entire career. But fate intervened, and he ended up opening his own HVAC and refrigeration shop, Diamond Mechanical, four years ago. Last year, he expanded his growing company and added a plumbing division.
Gerrior’s grandfather emigrated from Nova Scotia and worked on the fish piers in Boston cleaning and preparing the catch. When the fish company needed somebody to work on its refrigeration units, his grandfather stepped in and was able to learn the trade on the job.
“It was a big transition for him,” Gerrior says. “He came out of Canada with nothing.”
His grandfather later joined the union. Gerrior’s father and uncle followed in their dad’s footsteps. Brian Gerrior, Sr. put in 39 years in the field and also taught at Pipefitters Local Union 537’s training center.
Gerrior, Jr. started working in the trade at age 19. For 11 years, the third-generation pipefitter mostly helped manage the mechanical systems on site at Boston Medical Center for Emcor Services. Work-related injuries sidelined him, however, and he transitioned to outside sales for a union company. That gave Gerrior a new perspective on the industry as well as the skills to consider opening his own shop.
He took the leap, and at age 32, started Diamond as a one-person operation. Gerrior worked in the field most of the day and did all of the estimating, billing, and other administrative and sales work at night in his office–a spare bedroom in his house. Finding success, he brought on a pipefitter about six months into the business. Gerrior next hired an employee to work in the office and built a space above his garage to accommodate the expanded team. Work continued to roll in. Diamond is now 19-persons strong and operates out of office space in Weymouth.
The plumbing division wasn’t so much by design as by circumstance. “It was customer need,” Gerrior says. “We rarely do bid and spec work for plumbing.”
Instead, Diamond’s existing HVAC clients would ask him if he could handle plumbing projects. At first, Gerrior partnered with another union plumbing contractor. But when the demand for plumbing work grew to the point that it could be sustainable, he added the plumbing division. Diamond now employs five Local 12 plumbers.
As an example of a client driving demand for plumbing services, Gerrior points to the Newton Marriott. When the hotel reached full capacity, it wasn’t able to generate enough domestic hot water or pressure for guests on its upper floors. One of Diamond’s biggest HVAC customers, the Marriott came to Gerrior seeking help with the water problem. After diagnosing the issue, the shop did some re-piping and added redundancy. “That was years ago,” Gerrior says. “The hotel hasn’t had any guests complaining about the lack of hot water since.”
There was never any question in his mind that Diamond would be a union shop. “I joked that it if my business wasn’t union, I’d never be able to sit with my family for Thanksgiving dinner,” says Gerrior. Coming through the union, he says he knows how important the benefits are to the guys in the field. Now as a contractor, Gerrior appreciates having the labor pool available to staff up as necessary.
Diamond’s growth and success over a relatively short amount of time has been all the more impressive given that it has been operating amid the pandemic for nearly half of its existence. “When COVID hit, my business strategy and timing couldn’t have been any worse,” Gerrior says. He focused on colleges, hotels, and hospitals, all of which were among the hardest hit by the pandemic.
In response, Gerrior branched out and targeted nursing homes, public school systems, and other markets. He has also started working with cannabis grow facilities and adds that the emerging industry looks promising as a source for work.
Despite the disruption caused by COVID, between positive word-of-mouth and Gerrior’s marketing efforts, Diamond has continued to grow. In fact, he added the plumbing division as well as a building automation division in September 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic.
While service has been Diamond’s specialty, Gerrior has been adding construction projects recently, such as handling the domestic hot water for the Liberty Hotel in Boston. He hopes to generate more construction work and continue to expand the business. To that end, he is looking for additional space and wants to purchase a building to serve as the company’s new headquarters–its fourth in four years. Planning for the future, Gerrior says that the office would include a prefabrication shop. “I’m hoping the next move will be good for at least ten years.”