Ahern Legacy Continues in St. Louis
Like most fire protection contractors in St. Louis, the St. Louis office of J.F. Ahern provides fire protection design, installation, service and inspection to all sorts of facilities. Their expertise includes wet pipe, dry pipe, and clean agent systems. What is unlike other contractors is that this office is part of a larger network. With 14 offices throughout the Midwest and licensed to do fire protection work in 48 states, Ahern as a company does all aspects of fire protection and pipe fabrication across the county along with multi-trade services in their home state of Wisconsin, including HVAC, plumbing, and building controls. “We have over 1,300 employees and last week alone, fabricated over 5,500 heads,” said Andy Bill, Service Manager for Ahern in St. Louis.
J.F. Ahern has been around since 1880, and recently celebrated their 140th anniversary this year. Beginning in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, as a plumbing company and despite having such a large workforce, they still operate as a family business.
According to Ahern’s values statement, “People and Community” are at the core of what they do. “Employees here are more than part of a team; they’re part of a family.” Andy explained further that the company has a genuine dedication to the community. That dedication shows in his leadership of the St. Louis NFSA Chapter and commitment to the annual St. Louis Burn Aid golf tournament. Andy is the founding Chairman of the St. Louis Metro Area Chapter and was re-elected to the post in 2019.
At the St. Louis office, General Manager Pat Garner takes care of installation and contracts while Andy Bill is the service manager. Andy maintains a crew of eight full-time fire protection service technicians. “Our trucks are on the road every day keeping business open and operating with minimal disruption. Even with the Covid-19 situation, there’s been steady work,” he said.
Over the last few years, the local Ahern office has been busy with design and installation services at several large projects, including the new St. Louis University Hospital, Shriners Hospital, Jefferson College, McKnight Place, St. Louis Art Museum, and many other schools, hotels, office buildings and warehouses in the metro area.
In an effort to keep costs down and maintain quality control, Ahern does all pipe fabrication and pre-assembly at their fabrication facilities in Wisconsin, then ships the product to St. Louis for installation. Their fab shops combined cover over 172,000 square feet of workspace.
“One of the unique aspects of Ahern in St. Louis is that we have a budding fire alarm business, providing factory-trained Notifier installation and service. There’s an electro-mechanical relationship between the fire sprinkler system and the alarm system. Having our own alarm technicians enables us to fix the customer’s problem and get them back in service much faster than ever before,” Andy said.