Henry Joseph Pertzborn and his wife Gertrude founded H. J. Pertzborn Plumbing and Heating. After serving in World War I, Henry returned to the family farm in Cross Plains, Wisconsin and started his apprenticeship as a mason with a local contractor. His strong dislike of mortar drying on his hands made him turn to the plumbing trade. Working out of his home at 666 Crandall Street in Madison, Henry drove a modified model “A” with the rear half cut off to carry his tools and materials.
Working together, Henry and Gertrude built the business and raised six children. In 1939, the growing business moved to 2505 Monroe Street. During this time, Henry and his crew plumbed many of the homes in the Nakoma area and on the near west side.
By helping after school and during the summers, Henry and Gertrude’s oldest son James soon became an integral part of the business expansion. James entered the service at the onset of World War II, but returned after the war to begin an apprenticeship in 1946.
The business continued to grow and prosper, and in 1956 the family incorporated the business under the name H. J. Pertzborn Plumbing and Heating. In 1955, the company moved to a new building at 4311 West Beltline – at what was then the edge of town. During these years H. J. Pertzborn Plumbing and Heating expanded into commercial and industrial projects, plumbing such projects as Graber (Springs) in Middleton and many local schools and residential subdivisions.
The 1960’s and 70’s
As Madison and the surrounding community grew, so did the company. James E. Pertzborn focused on developing strong service, commercial and residential divisions. In 1964, Robert J. Pertzborn, James oldest child, began to work in the business after school and during the summer. After discharge from the military in 1969, Robert began his apprenticeship.
Jim led the company into the 1980’s, and then decided to retire. In the family tradition, a qualified candidate was already waiting in the wings and Robert became president in 1989.
During these years, the company continued to grow with the help of longtime and loyal employees. To meet the growth, the company moved in 1990 to 802 John Nolen Drive, their present location. In 1993 the company added fire protection services and changed its corporate name to H. J. Pertzborn Plumbing and Fire Protection Corporation.
Robert led the company into the new millennium with his two sons Joe & Jesse. H.J. Pertzborn experienced continued growth for all three departments during this time. The commercial division became involved with many large projects during this time such as, Princeton Club West, and the Vilas Zoo Carousel Projects and many more high rise projects in downtown Madison. The fire protection division was involved with some nice projects during this time such as Sun Prairie High School and the Green Lake County Justice Center. The service plumbing department continued to grow and provide valuable remodeling and repair services to the growing city of Madison and surrounding areas. The service plumbing department also expanded their services to include sewer & drain cleaning, dryer vent cleaning and home plumbing inspections.
During this era the company has continued to grow and change with the times. The company’s commercial area completed projects like St. Mary’s Hospital Janesville, the Edgerton Hospital, UW Memorial Union Renovation and UWW Fischer & Wellers Dorm Remodels to mention just a few. Fire Protection designers, project managers and field personnel kept busy with projects such as Forest Product Labs, Kromrey Middle School, Coating Place and retro-fit jobs like Elizabeth Waters dorms. The service plumbing department continued to experience good steady growth while providing value to the public in the areas of home and business plumbing repair and remodeling.
Robert Pertzborn decided to retire in the spring of 2014 and as is the family tradition, qualified candidates were waiting to fill his shoes. Joe Pertzborn who has been involved with the company’s Fire Protection division since the early 1990’s became President and his brother Jesse Pertzborn a master plumber and designer for the company since the mid 1990’s became the Vice President in April of 2014.
Beyond the Pertzborn family, many dedicated and loyal employees have worked in the company’s service plumbing, contract plumbing and fire protection divisions and helped to create the dynamic, service-oriented organization HJP is today.