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Derek Moore, president of Reissmann Plumbing and Heating Inc. based in Chester, N.J., has been rocking out the PHC business for close to 37 years now.
Prior to that, English-born Moore, or “Mo,” was an established musician, playing bass guitar, keyboards and singing for the progressive rock band Nektar, which Moore founded and managed in the 60s and 70s.
The band released several albums, playing large arenas around the world. They headlined with musicians like Man, Gentle Giant, Blue Oyster Cult, and Scorpions, and toured Europe with Frank Zappa and his Overnight Sensation band. Overall, Moore achieved much fan-dom and success.
In 1978, after years of living the rugged road life, Moore decided he wanted to put his creative energy towards something different. His father-in-law, a contractor, needed a break and had asked Moore if he could help him run his plumbing company while he was away. Moore ran the business for a couple of weeks and was such a natural fit that his father-in-law asked him to come aboard indefinitely.
Moore has stayed close to this industry because the work “clicks” for him, and offers continuous opportunities for learning.
“No matter how long you’re in this industry, there’s something you can learn. There’s always something new coming out and a new way of doing something. And, I like keeping up with that,” Moore said.
Moore’s current life revolves around designing, installing and troubleshooting heating systems. The systems include radiant, all kinds of steam, and hydronics, including panel radiators and baseboards.
Reissmann tries to focus on the most energy efficient systems. One of their specialties is radiant heating and snowmelt. Reissmann has been working closely with Uponor (Wirsbo) on this end for many years.
Moore gets a lot of persistent “trouble jobs” tossed into his hands. If a system isn’t working, his team takes measurements and calculations, such as heat loss in a room and balancing. If it’s a radiant job, for example, they pay close attention to tubing and the install method, run up a new design to see where the project should be temperature wise, and try to follow the thoughts of the original installer. Whatever kind of system it is, they want to understand its complexities, fine lines, and ins and outs.
“Once you touch a system, you own it. That’s why it’s essential to understand it first. It’s yours until it’s fixed,” Moore said. “If I’m doing a job at your house, then I know your house better than you do. We measure everything. We understand what it’s doing. I sit down with you as a customer and go through all the things we’ve learned about your house. I had one guy recently whose system was costing him $24,000 a year in oil. We went through the whole house and found there was nothing really working properly and no controls. We put in an Energy Kinetics boiler with variable speed injection mixing tanks for the radiant and separate domestic hot water. The next winter, it cost him $8,000.”
Cases like the one Moore described are how the team has gained their traction as successful contractors over the years — word-of-mouth and doing quality work. Reissmann has a database of over 15,000 customers.
Moore works closely with three other master plumbers on his team, including the top-notch tradesman, Roger Boehm. Moore has trained and mentored Boehm for many years. Moore said Boehm is an example of someone who has, “exceeded his expectations by miles.”
Boehm has been working for Moore for 21 years.
“I guess you could say Derek and I are like family,” Boehm said. “Derek pays close attention to details and is always on top of new technology and willing to take on any challenge and see it through. We’ve worked on numerous projects together from large radiant systems and snowmelt systems to plumbing projects.”
All Reissmann team members are trained extensively in heating and plumbing. Moore stresses the importance of skill building and continuous training. Intimate, honest work relationships seem to pave the way for this.
“You look at the people you work with who you really get to know. You tell them, ‘here’s what you’re going
to do, and you’re going to do it well.’ And then they come back to you with good input,” Moore said.
Moore works closely with leading companies to provide customers with the most energy efficient systems. He has worked with Uponor, and has served on its contractor advisory board since its inception. Others Moore works closely with include Taco Comfort Systems, Buderus and Energy Kinetics.
“We are heavily involved in calculating energy and making things that are more energy efficient. I think being involved with a lot of companies like Energy Kinetics Taco, Uponor, Triangle Tube, Buderus and Burnham for steam, helps us understand what’s out there and how the industry can be made better,” Moore said.
Those who have worked with Moore speak highly of his attention to product design and the evolution of industry technology.
Jeff Wiedemann, radiant heating product manager at Uponor, said, “Over the years, Derek has always been a favorite of mine to target with new technologies. He isn’t afraid of change and embraces the evolution. We have done many beta installations of controls projects, which always end with him providing excellent feedback and suggestions for how to improve the product. We have brainstormed how to integrate equipment and control it to provide the highest performance and efficiencies.”
Wiedemann continued, “Recently, we went back and forth on the mechanical design for his own snow melting system. Very early on in meeting Derek, we were discussing an out building that another contractor had run supply and return lines through that were too small. We devised a way to turn that problem into an injection system, and it worked remarkably well.”
Though Moore and the people he has worked with have been on the leading edge for many years, interestingly enough, Moore said the simpler products tend to be better, saving the most amounts in energy and cost.
“Again, it’s important to understand your system. It’s not the same on paper. You have to understand how different parts interact together to make a system that is really good. I don’t care how many years in or degrees you have, you always have to have it all in mind. I’ve seen a lot of engineering go south because the system was over engineered. Too much. Too big,” Moore said.
Moore continued, “I’d like to see even more people continue to attack our industry in an intelligent way. The opportunities are here. There are a lot of people in the industry who are always willing to bounce ideas of each other. Dan Foley, John Barba, Mike Miller and Jeff Wiedemann are my go-to guys. When you go to a convention, there are hundreds of guys there, like sponges, soaking in all they can handle.”
Others who have worked with Derek can attest to his strong character, consistency, ever-evolving knowledge, creativity and outrageous work ethic. He has built quite a reputation as a go-to man in this industry.
“From time to time, I lean on Derek to pass on his wisdom and knowledge when I get into areas that I am unfamiliar with. He never fails to answer what I am looking for in a clear, concise manner. With Derek, he is so willing to do so and always looking for additional avenues to develop mentoring programs,” Wiedemann said.
“Derek is a great customer and is passionate about what he does. He keeps us on our toes as manufacturers. On our advisory board, he always asks probing questions. He’s not 25-years-old, so to speak, and yet he’s keeping up as a top businessman and professional in his field. I have the utmost respect for him,” said Ingrid Mattsson, director of brand management at Uponor.
Others in this industry can attest to Moore as a stellar person and role model.
Mattsson added, “Besides being a wonderful gentleman, he is one of the most interesting people I know. He's a great conversationalist and is interested in all things happening in the news and politics, which makes for engaging conversation. Basically, I just adore him. One of the best.”
“I met Derek 10 years ago. He is one of my best friends, and one of the best contractors I know,” said Dan Foley, president of Foley Mechanical and PHC News columnist, who featured Moore in a piece he wrote in September 2013.
In his free time, which is fairly limited because he works close to 70 hours a week, Moore is a competitive shotgun shooter and writes for a magazine called ClayShooting USA. He’s also involved with the National Sporting Clays Association and has been on their advisory council for eight years.