Ermen Plumbing – 90 Years of Service to Community

It was the middle of the Great Depression, and the Moncton area was not spared from hunger, hard times, and faint hope.

Sam Ermen Sr. was determined to forge a career despite the strong economic headwinds. It was 1934 when young Sam the novice plumber tied a leather tool satchel to his trusted bicycle and made his first service call.

Ermen Plumbing was born. This month, it celebrates 90 years of continuous service to the Greater Moncton community and beyond.

In the 90 years since Sam’s first bicycle call, the company has built an enviable reputation of quality service, honesty, and fairness. It is a fitting legacy to Sam and other Ermen family members who continue to operate the company today.

In creating his own job that fateful day in the middle of the Depression, Sam changed the trajectory of his family – and the plumbing business in Greater Moncton – forever and for the good.

Sam passed down the company to his son, Ronald, in 1977 and in turn, Ron handed the reins to his son, Derek, and daughter, Dawn, who continue to co-lead Ermen Plumbing. Both generations of Ermens got an early start in the business – Ron was 15, Dawn was 16 and Derek was only 12.

“In my father’s generation, he taught me ‘you are honest, you have a lot of integrity, and you are fair with people. Derek and Dawn have all those things and even more,” Ron Ermen said in a recent interview.

The days of bicycle service calls are long gone – Ermen Plumbing today has 35 branded service vehicles filled with the latest in diagnostic technology and repair equipment which is operated by professionally trained technicians. It now provides both residential and commercial service, maintenance, new builds, and renovations.

With the advent of its commercial construction department in the 1980s, it has been involved in some of the region’s largest commercial projects, including the expansion of Champlain Place, Crystal Palace and Magic Mountain – still a client 35 years later.

As Ermen celebrates its 90th anniversary this month, the company located at 335 Millennium Boulevard has close to 40 employees, more than 7,000 service calls in each of the past two years, and is now serving third and fourth generation clients. It’s a testament to their work and values.

“My father told me that if you answer your telephone, you will do well. When people call us, they are in trouble and they need our help,” Ron stressed.

The company has records that include paid invoices from the mid-1940s – one for a boiler repair cost the customer $1.90 – parts and labour included.

While the tools of the plumbing trade have changed over the years, Ermen’s commitment to give back to the community that has supported them for 90 years has endured.

Both Derek and Dawn are involved in several community projects: Derek handles most of the industry involvement while Dawn is the company’s community connection.

Derek just finished a term as president of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada. He is a past chair and treasurer of the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance and the Mechanical Contractors Association of New Brunswick. He serves as an advisor to the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating and was on the National Advisory Committee for trades with the Canadian Construction Association. He’s a past member of the United Way of Greater Moncton and Southeastern New Brunswick’s investment committee and current Day of Caring.

Ermen Plumbing is presenting sponsor of the Greater Moncton Dragonboat Festival, where Dawn serves on the planning committee. She is also on the board of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton, Rising Tide Community Initiatives Inc. and is a member of the Rotary Club of Moncton West & Riverview.

For Derek and Dawn, giving back to the community has been a company and family priority.

“After 90 years, we would not be what we are today without our community,” Dawn Ermen said. “We are local, and we like to give back to local.”

Ermen Plumbing has also been at the forefront of being an employer that values its people. It is a unionized shop that provides fair wages and benefits. It was an early adopter of the co-op work term model and has provided co-op experiences to students for more than 30 years.

Derek says the commitment to their employees is reflected in the fact some have been with them for 35 or 40 years. He is optimistic with the shortage of skilled tradespeople like plumbers, the perception of the industry is changing.

“I think there’s an opportunity with the labour crunch and shortage of people,” Derek notes. “Supply and demand of labour has changed dramatically, and the traditional value proposition of the trades is coming back.”
For both Derek and Dawn, the word tradition means a lot as they approach the company’s 90th anniversary.

“Our grandfather started this, and we are proud that it is turning 90,” Dawn says. “We would love to make it even bigger and better for the next generation.”

It’s a point echoed by Derek: “We trust each other (as co-owners) completely. It’s all we’ve ever known.”

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