EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — In Atlantic County, trucks and work vehicles adorned with the Henry Davidson Plumbing logo have been a fixture for years.
Decades ago, you might have found them at the then-new old Atlantic City Convention Hall or at one of the city’s classic 1960s motels like the Algiers and the Ascot. They’ve been found at schools throughout the county, construction sites of projects big and small, and at homes and businesses all throughout southern New Jersey.
It’s 2019 and Davidson Plumbing is celebrating its 100th year in business.
The Egg Harbor Township-based outfit is currently helmed by Herman Davidson and his children, Keith and Corin. It was Davidson’s grandfather, Harry Davidson, who started the business in 1919 after moving to Atlantic City from Nebraska, bringing his sons, including Herman’s dad Marvin, into the fold and creating a business that, at its peak, had more than 100 employees.
Now, Davidson Plumbing — Herman Davidson dropped the Henry from the company name — is a smaller organization with just a few employees, but, like it’s been for a century, it’s all family. And that’s just the way Davidson likes it, the way his dad liked it and his dad before him, too.
“When you work for yourself, when you enjoy what you’re doing, that’s it,” the 68-year-old said from his Egg Harbor Township home recently. “At the end of the day, you’ve fixed a problem. You’ve used your hands and found a solution.”
Throughout the years, Davidson Plumbing has worked on several large projects in the area. When the Henry Davidson and his sons led the company, the business was primarily associated with the pre-gambling Atlantic City. With Marvin Davidson and Herman, the company worked on several large-scale projects for area educational institutions, including Glassboro State Teachers College (now Rutgers University) and Vineland Senior High School.
Davidson plumbing has scaled back in recent years. Before the 2008 recession, the company had a fleet with about five full-time and five part-time staff in addition to the Davidsons. Now, it’s mostly just the Davidson’s along with some part-time help for jobs on occasion.
They’ve also shifted direction to plumbing and heating service instead of installation, which has lessened the need for more employees. The prospect of working on jobs for multiple years while waiting to get paid and at the same time seeking new construction contracts was starting to take its toll, hence the change in business.
They’ve got their clients and are free to pick up new ones without the added pressure of constantly acquiring big jobs.
“Things are smaller now. After the recession, its mostly me and my son and a helper,” he said. “It’s no easy feat to stay in business for 100 years, but I can’t see myself working for someone else.”
As for the future of Davidson Plumbing and whether it’ll last another hundred years, he’s not so sure. His son Keith has taken the mantle. And it’d be nice if his grandson followed in his father’s footsteps like he followed in his father’s footsteps, but he wouldn’t be disappointed if some day the Davidson Plumbing era came to a close.
“As long as he’s doing something he loves, that’s all that matters,” Herman Davidson said.