Together with Delta Faucet, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association (PHCC) took the stage at CONNECT 2016 in San Antonio, Texas, last month to present the industry's most prestigious plumbing awards to the team at J.C. Cannistraro, in Watertown, Mass., and Isaak Bliek, of Midwestern Mechanical in Sioux Falls, S.D. Cannistraro was named the Plumbing Contractor of the Year, and Bliek was honored as the 2016 Apprentice of the Year.
Contractor of the Year
A second-generation company founded in 1963, J.C. Cannistraro is one of the largest mechanical construction firms in the Boston area, with 700 employees and annual revenues exceeding $200 million. A goal of 100-percent fabrication on new construction projects is an indication of the company's emphasis on innovation and continuous improvement. A recipient of the Labor Guild's Cushing-Gavin Award, John Cannistraro commented: "To be here a hundred years from now celebrating labor and management, we need to be willing to change. Doing things the way we always did them is not the way to succeed in the future."
The Cannistraro family's commitment to the industry is reflected in the company's professional involvement: John served as president of the PHCC of Greater Boston from 2007-2009; he is a trustee in the Joint UA/Contractor Educator Fund and is a member of PHCC's Union-Affiliated Contractors. Joseph currently serves as president of the Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association.
In 2011, the Boston Business Journal named J.C. Cannistraro the Top Mechanical Contractor in the Greater Boston Area. A safety leader in the field of specialty contracting, Cannistraro has been named a "Top Place to Work" by the Boston Globe.
In addition, the company has been home to the Plumbing Museum since 2009 and serves as its primary underwriter. The museum attracts visitors from vocational students on field trips to apprentices to industry retirees.
Cannistraro's community service outreach has extended beyond New England to Haiti, raising more than $1 million dollars in funds and in-kind donations to help rebuild the country's only teaching hospital in Mirebalais following the 2010 earthquake in which 30 percent of the medical staff was killed. Cannistraro provided engineering and prefabrication services and training to Haitian plumbers, allowing local plumbers to do the install themselves.
Apprentice of the Year
In the third year of his plumbing apprenticeship at the South Dakota PHCC, Bliek was recognized by PHCC for his initiative, leadership skills and professionalism. Trained in the military to be a police officer and combat and security expert, Bliek suffered serious injuries during his deployment, challenging him - among other things - to find another career path in life. "I have sought success by rehabilitating myself," he said. "I am off all medications save for my service dog, who accompanies me on any trip longer than 30 minutes from my home. I look forward to the day that I can own and operate my own company."
Among the many awards and commendations earned during his military service are the U.S. Air Force Achievement Medal for unwavering fortitude while under fire, the U.S. Army Achievement Medal for outstanding dedication to duty during combat, the National Defense Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Iraqi Campaign Medal. He is a three-time recipient of the Meritorious Unit Award and also received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, the Unsung Warrior Award and the Air Combat Command's Superior Performance Award.
With just as much determination to succeed in his new career path, Bliek was the top winner in the South Dakota PHCC Plumbing Apprentice skills test. A 2016 graduate of Ashford University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies, he already is surfacing as a leader at Midwestern Mechanical in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Says company Branch Manager Brett Kaltvedt: "Isaac is a take-it-and-run-with-it apprentice. He is eager to learn and is always asking to do more." Adding that Bliek is enrolled in continued education as a project manager on the side, Kaltvedt says of the Apprentice of the Year: "He's in the industry for the long haul."