Diller Wierman Inc., Established in 1779
Now here’s a company that would have been the top of the top of our list of oldest family owned PHCP contractors. They have J.F. Ahern Co. beat by 101 years.
Matt Wierman, however, the latest family owner in almost too many generations to count and who has owned and operated the company since 1985, told us that the company stopped doing plumbing five years ago.
“Like any business, we’ve involved over time,” Wierman says. “We now do just custom sheet metal fabrication and welding, which we had always done in addition to plumbing.”
Still, considering Matt is the founder’s great-great-great-great-great-grandson, the company deserves our recognition.
“I’m still a master plumber,” he adds, “so technically the business may not be doing plumbing any longer, but I’m still a plumber.”
The family tree can be traced back to 1765 when 25-year-old Michael Bargelt immigrated from Germany, settling in what would become Hanover, Pennsylvania.
In 1779, Michael started a tin and coppersmith shop, which also doubled as the family home, and became known for fabricating copper stills to make whiskey. Son Jacob, who started working with his father when he was 8, bought the business in 1811.
In turn, Jacob’s son, John, succeed him in 1830 and then John’s son, Louis, took charge of the business. By then, the business had expanded to include plumbing, heating and oil burning installations. Louis went on to serve in the Civil War for the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteers and saw battle at Gettysburg.
Louis worked until the day he died in 1912. His son, George took over and ran it by himself until he was killed in an automobile accident in 1928.
Afterward, his widow Emma and daughter Jeanne kept the company “afloat in an era that frowned on a woman in any business, especially plumbing,” according to the company’s website. Two years, later, the two sold what was then known as Bargelt & Son.
Here’s where we meet new owner, Diller P. Wierman. A break in ancestry? Well, yes and no, because Jeanne ended up marrying Diller. Jeanne, a graduate of Hood College, which began as the Woman’s College of Frederick in 1897, worked alongside her husband for many years.
The business remained at the same site that Michael Bargelt had built way back in 1779. Finally, the two moved the business in 1947 to where it remains to this day. At that point, the company was incorporated as Diller Wierman Inc.
In 1958, Jeanne and Diller’s son, Michael Bargelt Wierman, became a partner in the business. Diller remained active in the company until his death in 1986 at the age of 83. Michael was also active in the business until his death in 1998. In addition, Michael’s wife, Hazel, ran the business and retired in 1999.
Which leaves us, 241 years later, with son Matthew Diller Wierman in charge.