Member Spotlight: Bob Brecke, President, Brecke Mechanical Contractors
After a quick glance at their website, you’ll know right away that Brecke Mechanical Contractors is a family-owned business that takes pride in its services. In fact, it’s in the company motto — “Brecke Pride. We do the job right.” With three generations, more than 100 employees and 55 years of business under its belt, Brecke Mechanical Contractors has made their mark in the Cedar Rapids region and beyond, and they continue to place their customers and quality service up front and center.
“We don’t treat people like numbers. … We have to do what we tell the customer we’re going to do and do it how we say and when we say we’re going to do it,” notes Bob Brecke, company president.
Hard work and dedication to the trade go a long way at Brecke Mechanical Contractors, and Bob is evidence of that. He had to work his way up to his current role as company president. He started in the trade in 1973, when he began his apprenticeship in plumbing and pipefitting. Along his path, which has been 46 years in the making, Bob has held various roles with the company: service truck driver, site foreman, project manager, vice president and now president.
And he’s not the only Brecke to climb the ladder! All three generations of Breckes have started in the trade and worked their way up to the front office. His two nephews, Brad and Bret, who are the official third generation of Breckes to assume leadership roles in the family business, both began their careers as apprentices. Brad began his career in 1988, operating a service truck for a decade before moving his way up to site foreman, project manager and then vice president. Bret started his career in 1991 as a certified welder and pipefitter, working his way up as a site foreman, project manager and now vice president. Brad and Bret are partners now and will eventually take over ownership of the company when Bob retires later this year.
As a family-owned business, Brecke Mechanical Contractors also takes great pride in its family of employees. “We’ve been keyed in on family and supporting each other. … It’s a family-owned business, and that spreads out to the workers. We understand that they have their kids, their spouses, travel and problems. We try to work with them to be different than big corporations.”
Whether installing plumbing or chemical water treatment systems or repairing and maintaining HVAC systems or building automation, Brecke Mechanical Contractors offers cost-effective solutions for critical building infrastructure needs. But, as with any company, it is continually challenged with staying up-to-date with the latest technologies and changes that evolve with the trade, which is why Bob and Brecke Mechanical Contractors are members of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Iowa.
Bob has served on the MCAI Board of Directors for several years now. He spent time as President of the state board in 2015-2016 and Chairperson of the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Chapter from 2011-2012. “You get another perspective of business when you’re involved (with the board). You get caught up in your own business, running it and the problems that come along. … As a member, you get a whole other perspective when we get together. A lot of people don’t understand that we’re a bunch of competitors that work together to better the industry.” And now Bret has assumed a leadership role on the board. He currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Chapter and will take over as Chair of the chapter in 2021.
For the Breckes, becoming members of the MCAI has not only been focused on contract negotiations, safety best practices and policy discussions, but it’s also been about fellowship. Bob notes that he enjoys the state meetings, chapter meetings and other networking opportunities the organization provides its members. “Yeah, you handle business, you’re with your competitors, but you’re basically there for camaraderie as well. It gives you the ability to talk to another contractor and get their ideas.”
Bob and Brecke Mechanical Contractors have also taken advantage of the various member resources, including the MCAI Training Vault and SDS BinderWorks. Because the company has 150 to 200 employees to monitor, these two resources have been invaluable to its safety and training processes and procedures. For the Training Vault specifically, Bob highlights the convenience of the system. “We can track the guys and go see where they’re at on training. All of these things that are required when you get a job, you can find it right away. We’re multiple trades, so we have four trades in the Training Vault, which is another thing that’s pretty futuristic for the MCAI to do. Instead of just concentrating on their own group, they can keep track of all trades – pipefitters, electrical groups, sheet metal.”
Brecke Mechanical Contractors also utilizes SDS BinderWorks to streamline its Safety Data Sheet (SDS) library and processes. “Having the ability to bring it up on your phone and pick the item on site is huge! Now we can be in compliance without trying to print 200 books out every year. They’re also futuristic in having other companies use it other than our own industry. There’s a real need for this in a lot of different industries. The change from MSDS to SDS is huge because it was going to be a big, exhaustive change for companies, and we signed up for SDS BinderWorks and were in compliance right away. It’s a huge tool for us!”
Bob also commends the staff at MCAI and their efforts for advancing the trade. “Scot, Meghan and Jennifer have done an excellent job, and they’ve raised the level of the organization. Organizations can get stale, and they’ve worked hard to make the MCAI stand out. They’ve done a great job!”
The MCAI thanks Bob for his years of service to the industry and his role on the board. We hear he enjoys traveling in his RV with his family, so we wish him safe and happy travels in his retirement, from his favorite spots in the Florida Keys to the mountains in Virginia to the Outer Banks and more. And we look forward to working with Brad and Bret as the next generation of owners and operators of the family business. The future looks bright for Brecke Mechanical Contractors!