A Publication of WTVP

The PIPCO Companies has delivered quality service and customer satisfaction for two generations and counting…

When Maurice Cicciarelli emigrated from the hills of Northern Italy at 15 years of age, he saw indoor plumbing for the first time in his life. His fascination led him to study plumbing in Chicago, and after mastering the craft, start a business with his brother, Frank, known as Reliable Plumbing. Before long, he had saved enough money to invest $10,000 into a new business: Peoria Industrial Piping Company.

“Grandpa was a silent shareholder, and our dad, Maurice J. Cicciarelli, was the managing shareholder,” says Steve Cicciarelli, president of The PIPCO Companies, Ltd. in Peoria. “The company was operated out of our parents’ home on Knoxville and moved to Adams Street from 1961 to 1965. Dick Lint, a plumber working for Dad, asked if he could refer to the company as PIPCO in lieu of Peoria Industrial Piping Company, and the name was changed to The PIPCO Companies, Ltd. In 1964, Dad bought Grandpa out of the business, and in 1966 relocated the company to its present location on Altorfer.”

Since 1958, The PIPCO Companies has evolved from a plumbing, heating and piping contractor into a full-service contracting firm, with employees specializing in site utilities and site excavation, fire protection, HVAC, plumbing, process piping, sheet metal fabrication, electrical and inspection services. From design to installation and repair, PIPCO combines state-of-the-art equipment with professionalism and expertise to prepare Peoria’s businesses for tomorrow.

A Father’s Dream
Known today as one of the most complete contractors in downstate Illinois, PIPCO’s success didn’t happen without overcoming a few obstacles. “My father’s dream was to see all of his kids come to work for him,” says Steve, “so all of us were put in charge of a different division of the company.”

In the 1980s and 1990s, PIPCO operated as five separate business units, each run by one of Maury’s children. Steve Cicciarelli led the Fire Protection & Inspection Services unit; his brother, Scott, headed Process and HVAC Piping, Sheet Metal & Electrical Work; Greg Cicciarelli was in charge of Site Utilities & Excavation; and Dan Shadid, Karen (Cicciarelli) Shadid’s husband, headed the Plumbing unit.

But Maury’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in 2001 brought about the need for change. “Between 2001 and 2003, our company was losing a lot of money as a result of Dad’s diagnosis, over-expansion and offices in Indiana that were not managed,” says Karen, director of finance.

The siblings came together as the new business owners and held a meeting with the bank. At its request, and with advice from outside consultants, the family developed a plan and worked their way out of the red and into the black within two years.

“The transition was a real learning experience for our generation, and it brought us together to take care of the business,” says Karen, adding that their mother’s belief in their decisions allowed her children to successfully navigate the transition process and place the company into second-generation hands.

Although Maurice J. Cicciarelli passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage in 2005, he lived to see his children uphold the mission and maintain the founding principles of the business. “Every day, we’re doing what our father would have wanted us to do,” says Steve, “and that’s reinforcing the basic principles he built this company on: hard work, honesty, integrity and professionalism.”

For Steve and his brothers and sister, continuing the business means serving as a reflection of their parents, the sacrifices they made for them and their basic value system. “In retrospect, we all had other opportunities,” he says. “We all had ideas of going different ways, and at some point had the desire to do our own thing. But ultimately, we wanted to be a part of what we had here and grow as a family business.”

Karen says her father was a hard-working, honest man that loved his family and his company. “Dad was always there to get the job done and take care of customers. Working hard and being a leader in our industry and community was something we all learned from him.”

Running with Success
In 2010, the Cicciarelli family worked together to structure the company for another successful transition to the third generation. “A couple years ago, we had a board meeting and came into agreement that we wanted to see this company grow and flourish in the hands of our children,” says Karen. “We decided to restructure the company from five divisions into a more traditional business model, operating as one unit. Positioning the company to grow by consolidating resources.”

By 2010, Steve, Scott, Greg and Karen served as the official owners of PIPCO. Steve currently serves as president and director of estimating and sales, while Scott serves as executive vice president and director of field operations and design. Greg is also an executive vice president and co-director of field operations. Karen keeps track of company finances as secretary/treasurer and director of finance, and her husband, Dan, is vice president and director of operations.

A few third-generation children—Matthew, Nicholas, Michael and Marlo—have already shown interest in the family business. “Matthew is working hard toward being our director of sales and service,” says Karen. “Nick and Mike are learning and working in estimating and project management, and Marlo is working in a project management support role.”

Steve says the company is beginning to see the fruits of restructuring and believes PIPCO will experience its biggest year in terms of sales in 2012. “We are now one company, but we provide all the same services. It’s exciting for us to watch the next generation enjoy the success we helped create.”

Along the way, Karen stresses the importance of separating business and family. “One thing our father always taught us was to leave business at the office and keep our personal lives separate. Decisions made at work need to be what is best for the business because this is what is ultimately best for the family. We have disagreements, but we have developed ways to make decisions. At times of crisis, we are always on the same page and work well together.”

Set Apart
From its unsurpassed professional services to its exceptional workmanship, PIPCO’s longstanding commitment to the local community has provided the company with a reputation that sets it apart from other businesses of its kind. “Between myself, Scott, Greg and Dan, we have over 110 years of construction experience,” says Steve.

A leader in the construction field, PIPCO has positioned itself at the forefront of the design-build style of delivery for new and retrofit projects. In-house design capabilities and strategic partnerships with consulting engineers, suppliers and subcontractors allow PIPCO to provide full design-build services for mechanical and electrical portions of projects.

“The construction fast tracking that we offer through the design-build process is an advantage that more and more customers are seeking,” says Steve. “We are contractors. We are designers. We are professionals.”

The company is also technologically advanced. PIPCO’s Fabrication Shop employs the latest fabrication tools, and PIPCO is the only contractor in the region to offer complete turnkey HVAC installations, providing complete control and coordination between the ventilating and piping phases. “Our full-service HVAC division with state-of-the-art computer-aided estimating, drafting, design and manufacturing capabilities has the expertise to accommodate all customer needs,” according to Steve.

In addition, PIPCO’s Fire Protection Systems Division is ranked among the top 20 fire protection contractors in the United States. The business is also equipped with the largest sprinkler piping fabrication shop in downstate Illinois.

PIPCO’s skilled manpower and experienced management enable it to provide total control of operations without dependency on subcontractors. It is the most diversified commercial and industrial contractor outside of Chicago, according to Steve. “There’s no other company in downstate Illinois that does what we do,” he says. “We are a union trade contractor. We have 50 non-union employees that support our services and between 200 and 250 men in operation that work for us.”

“We’ve had several significant achievements throughout the years,” says Karen, “but PIPCO will always be a work in progress. Right now, it’s great for us and for those we serve that we have the financial and professional capabilities to execute everything we deem necessary to make this company what it is.” iBi