Ryan & Associates began in 1902 as a reliable plumbing and heating contractor serving homeowners and residential customers. As the demand for talented, efficient mechanical services increased, we grew to accommodate the industrial and commercial needs of our region.
Eventually, Ryan & Associates expanded to evolve into the region’s premier and preferred single-source contractor, serving the needs of structural engineers, mechanical engineers, civil engineers and design-build projects across many fields. Ryan & Associates has contributed to the success of projects within the petroleum, oil, natural gas, biofuel , steel mill, pharmaceutical, food industry and construction industries. Our significant on-site storage and production of custom fabrication and piping keeps us competitive and responsive to our client’s evolving needs.
That’s the corporate-sounding version of our story, and every word is true. But we sat down with Perry to learn the personal side of building Ryan & Associates into the regional leader it is today. As many family business owners can attest, it’s a very personal journey:
“It’s 1902 and Jeremiah Ryan is following his dream of opening a plumbing shop in Davenport, Iowa, so he opens Ryan Plumbing and Heating. It remained a small storefront operation in its first quarter century of operation. Plumbing and pipefitting at that time was trying to find its way and where it fit into the industrial landscape. Ryan remained a local contractor pretty much until the first World War.
My father Arlie started working for Ryan as an apprentice steamfitter before the war. He also did some US Navy time before the war. When World War II started, my father was one of the first to go because of his prior Navy experience. He was called in February 1942.
After the war ended, my father went back to work for Ryan Plumbing and Heating. The company began to grow and became what was called at that time a “national contractor.” Somehow Ryan got tied up with Walsh Construction and the Rock Island Lines Railroad. They went all over the country with these two companies. Ryan did work from the eastern part of the United States to the western part of Iowa.
My father started with Ryan as an apprentice steamfitter, became a journeyman steamfitter, worked his way up to foreman and superintendent before ultimately becoming an estimator/project manager.
Jeremiah Ryan passed in 1958. His two sons, Gene and Jerry, took over the business and unfortunately, didn’t do really well. By 1964, Ryan Plumbing and Heating was bankrupt.
Out of the ashes of Ryan Plumbing and Heating, Ryan and Associates was founded – resurrected by Jeremiah’s son, Gene.
My father would not work for the new Ryan until 1967. Ryan was again a small plumbing business. About six months later, Gene (who founded Ryan and Associates) died of a heart attack. His widow asked my father to buy the company for $5,000.00. I can pretty much tell you this was everything my father and mother had. I was thirteen years old at the time, and it scared me to death. I also knew at the age of thirteen I was going to be a pipefitter.
My father had four sons to help him grow the business and I guess we must have known what we were doing. I have been running the business since 1987.”
Ryan has offices in Davenport, Iowa; Tucson, Arizona; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Iowa City, Iowa.