For Hayes Mechanical, no project is too big – or too small.“On any given day we could have people working on the largest boiler in the United States at the same time we have someone in a basement in a small building solving a plumbing issue,” says Terry AnCel, president and CEO of the Chicago-based company
This range in the company’s projects reflects Hayes’ overall commitment to serving its customers, as well as the varied skills of its employees. Hayes Mechanical offers services including boilermaking, pipefitting, millright, sheet metal fabrication, plumbing and electrical contracting to customers in the industrial and commercial sectors.
“Our greatest strength is the variety of expertise we have with regard to boilers and pressure vessels, as well as, on the commercial side, being able to work on rooftop units, central air conditioning, plumbing and controls,” AnCel says.
Boiler work in particular – whether on small units or 26-story industrial units – is at the heart of the company, which is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year.
A Long Evolution
Hayes Mechanical was founded in 1918 in Chicago by Dan Hayes, a boilermaker and amateur boxer. At the behest of his wife, Nell, Hayes put his pugilistic interests aside in favor of starting a boiler repair company. In the early days of the firm, Hayes performed estimating and repairs while Nell handled bookkeeping and other office duties.
Eventually, Dan Hayes steadily grew his staff, allowing his wife to focus on raising their three daughters. Hayes’ belief in honesty and integrity, and his support of the Boilermakers’ Union, allowed him to establish an employee-friendly work environment and build a customer base, the company says.
Hayes’ son-in-law John T. Mooney, a shop superintendent at the Pullman Rail Car Company, joined the business – then known as Dan Hayes Boiler & Repair Co. – after World War II. The company took another major step in 1965 when Mooney bought the company from Dan Hayes, continuing its tradition of honesty and integrity while extending its services to include fabricating boiler stacks, tanks and vessels.
Mooney expanded the company’s relationships in part by guiding the construction of the Boilermakers Local 1 Training Center and an international union school. He also began grooming his sons to eventually run the business, including current Board Chairman Rick Mooney, who worked at the business throughout high school and college and moved into management three years later.
In 1967, the company started working on maintaining and repairing power boilers to extend its business beyond a seasonal base. In addition, the company began burner, control and air conditioning service in response to customers’ requests to be a full-service provider. Entering the air conditioning realm helped Dan Hayes Boiler & Repair Co. form relationships with the pipefitters union, which in turn led to its providing pipefitting and welding service to the commercial and industrial sectors.
Rental boilers, piping fabrication, temperature control installation and maintenance and fluid engineering services were added to the company’s capabilities in the 1970s, leading to a name change to Hayes Boiler & Mechanical Inc. in 1979.
Mooney’s youngest son, John (J.D.) Mooney, joined the management team in 1980, by which time Rick Mooney had already taken over the majority of the company’s day-to-day management from their father.
The company gained further capabilities in 1995, when it took on stud welding duties for power and utility boilers in a seven-state territory. Hayes Boiler & Mechanical Inc. also merged with a former competitor at this time to form a boiler and tank division that custom designs, engineers, fabricates and installs all sizes of pressure vessels, the company says.
Hayes Boiler and Mechanical shortened its name in 1997 to Hayes Mechanical Inc. At this time, the company also started fabricating sheet metal in-house. In the mid-1990s, the company opened a second location in St. Louis.
The new millennium saw the company continue to evolve. In 2000, the company was sold to Consolidated Engineering, a division of Charles E. Smith Properties. In 2005, following the sale of Consolidated Engineering to the EMCOR Group, the Mooney/Hayes family and other members of the executive management team purchased the company back and re-launched with AnCel at the helm as president. Along with this relaunch came a recommitment to customer satisfaction and the motto of “we don’t necessarily want to be the biggest, but we do want to be the best,” AnCel says.
The company fulfills its mission of being the best largely through the work of its staff, many of whom have spent a number of years there. “We don’t have a lot of turnover here,” Rick Mooney says. “A lot of the people who come to work here retire here, and it’s not unusual for people to be here for more than 30 years.”
Many of Hayes Mechanical’s veteran staff members work as project managers or as engineers. The longevity of staff members in these positions is one of the company’s greatest strength because it enables Hayes Mechanical to build trust over time with clients. “Many of the owners we work with have said that when Hayes shows up on their site that they don’t worry, because they know we’re honest, trustworthy, and get the job done on schedule,” AnCel says.
Many of Hayes Mechanical’s customers have entrusted it with their boilers and other systems for much of the company’s history. AnCel notes one client in particular dates back to 1928. “We’re not looking for just one job from a customer or to make a buck and leave,” Rick Mooney says. “We believe in building long-term relationships with customers the same as we have with our employees.”
The company also prides itself on long-standing relationships with vendors and subcontractors. “We believe our subcontractors and other partners are just as important on the job as we are, so we have established many relationships, some of which go back to the founding days of the company,” he adds.
Hayes Mechanical since 2008 has operated out of a 138,000-square-foot headquarters in Chicago that gives it space for equipment and tool storage. The following year, a satellite office managed by Vice President Larry Grieff opened in Omaha, Neb.
Hayes Mechanical’s geographic reach continues to grow. The company operates in multiple states and within the past few years opened offices in Pittsburgh and Saginaw, Mich.
“Our customers are all over the United States,” AnCel says. “In order for us to provide really outstanding service, we need to be there 24/7 for those customers, so rather than flying our people in and out of Chicago, we built offices to meet those needs.”
Strength in Safety
Regardless of their location, all of Hayes Mechanical’s projects are completed with the highest safety standards in mind. The company stresses the topic during new hire orientations and holds a monthly online course for full-time employees. Hayes’ part-time field employees conduct daily toolbox talks specific to the job site as well as weekly meetings.
One of the company’s safety policies – “Take Two For Safety” – encourages field employees to “step back, take two minutes and think about what you’re going to do so you do it in the safest way possible,” AnCel says.
The company also encourages safe behaviors through a two-day off-site safety and quality seminar and an annual safety awards ceremony.
“Safety is the No. 1 priority for us,” Mooney says, noting that all internal meetings begin with a safety discussion and update. “We believe strongly that everyone who comes to work comes to work in one piece and goes home in the same condition, and we’re very strict when it comes to that.”