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128 Years Strong, E.M. Duggan Thrives on Safety

By Christine Torres

Signs, labels, and floor marking keep E.M. Duggan efficient

Lean manufacturing not only saves time for efficiency, it also improves safety. For the workers moving in and around a bustling facility in Boston, lean is essential. E.M. Duggan is a fifth-generation, family-owned mechanical contracting business long respected for expertise in plumbing, HVAC, and fire protection. Coming off impressive wins of Contractor of the Year by Contractor magazine, Best East Coast Contractor from ACHR magazine, and a top East Coast business award by the Boston Globe, the company is ecstatic to lead the future of contracting.

New Challenges, New Goals

Successful New York businessman Len Monfredo was the new set of eyes and ideas E.M. Duggan needed. He’s credited with bringing stellar results in meeting the company’s industry advancement goals and challenges. His wife and mother in law are Duggans – the surname after which the company is named. Becoming executive vice president in 2009, Monfredo helped more than double E.M. Duggan’s revenue. Today, the company tops $200 million and boasts a dedicated staff of nearly 500 employees. Monfredo also is president of Duggan Mechanical Service, a subsidiary of E.M. Duggan.

“What identified me as the next generation was my ability to focus on making organizations more efficient,” said Monfredo. He led Duggan’s transformation, expanding and modifying production while providing workers with a safe, comfortable environment to create high-quality work in a fast manner. “We focused on making technology a huge piece of our efficiency. We feel strongly about staying ahead of the technology curve. Safety is up there in the top three concerns of the company. Most of our practices are from the lean playbook.”

The biggest challenge E.M. Duggan overcame was computer program inefficiency. The company’s mechanical systems then became in line with their architects and engineers. This made way for seamless communication, using smart screens for live updates. “We looked at best practices and tweaked and modified them to work for us,” said Monfredo.

Cleanliness and Safety

Cleanliness and organization at E.M. DugganWalking through the company’s business model is walking through the company’s production shop: Operations are progressive and intelligent. Monfredo says it is important to show E.M. Duggan clients that the facility is not just mechanical and using top technology but how it is safe and clean.

E.M. Duggan’s safety manager, Sam Collins, meets with workers and management consistently. With no budget, he has permission to get anything and everything he needs when necessary. Collins works hard to keep E.M. Duggan in step with safety and lean practices. Everything in the shop is where it needs to be for worker efficiency. Employees engage in safety best practice conversations, and visual communication is seamless: The variety of work areas are distinguishable through color-coded labels and markings and racks have barcodes.

“Work better, not harder,” said Monfredo. “I truly believe in the philosophy of a clean, organized work environment. People respect coming to a place that is safe, clean, and has the tools to do their jobs. Safety and cleanliness bring quality. We are always improving. Safety and other changes happen organically from the men and women performing the task. When you work intelligently, there are fewer chances of people getting hurt.”

E.M. Duggan’s leadership appreciates the company’s rich legacy, which they credit to all team members working together and a friendly, family-like environment. They pride in embracing a passion for people. At a recent company celebration for earning Contractor of the Year, Monfredo thanks those who laid the foundation of the company in 1891 and those in the field who keep the company thriving today.

“Our people earned that title,” he said. “It is truly a village - it takes a village to be successful and be recognized. What matters the most is taking care of your employees. Treat workers with respect and make them feel like they matter and are heard. That’s the most important for a business owner.”

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