NEW HAVEN, CONN. --Although CONTRACTOR is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, it is 100 years younger than the plumbing and heating contractor that claims to be the oldest in the nation in continuous operation. Buckingham Routh celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.
National, state and local officials and Buckingham Routh's 80 employees were among those in attendance at a reception June 17 here to mark this milestone. The company's 150th anniversary celebration featured an ice sculpture shaped like a claw-foot bathtub and a pipe wrenchshaped anniversary cake.
"The longevity of Buckingham Routh is built on leadership, experience and merit," said Jim Petrillo, the company's board chairman. "Rather than a family passing the helm down through generations of fathers and sons, we have created strong bonds between generations of tradesmen - and every single one of them began here on the shop floor."
Next year will mark Petrillo's 58th with the company. He began as a 17-yearold apprentice in 1946.
The Buckingham Routh Co. has helped build the infrastructures for New Haven and Connecticut projects including Yale University, AT&T, IBM, U.S. Naval Submarine Base in New London, General Dynamics, Swiss Bank, Bristol Meyers Squibb, Pratt & Whitney and Sikorsky Aircraft.
Established in 1854 — six years before Abraham Lincoln was elected president —Buckingham Routh originally was named the New Haven Steam Heating Co. and sold boilers and flat radiators nationwide. Many of them are still in use in some of the country's oldest homes and estates today.
The company also installed many of the original central steam connections for New Haven's buildings, which can still be seen today in the Wooster and Chapel Street areas of the city.
Buckingham Routh was never passed from a father to a son, but instead continued to grow through the dedication and vision of many leaders, the company said. In 1895, the company's founder, James Shearlock, hired his nephew, Arthur Thorpe, as the heating engineer. He also hired Thomas Routh and Alfred Buckingham to take charge of plumbing operations and sheet metal work. The three men incorporated the business that same year as The Buckingham Routh Co.
"After 150 years of service, Buckingham Routh Co. has — through ambition, dedication and a strong vision — become a leader in our industry," said John Barassa, executive vice president of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Connecticut. "Their success can only be attributed to a continuous drive towards excellence, the ability to adapt to changes in the field and their strong leadership — all essentials in the success of mechanical contractors."
Congressional, state and city officials also recognized the company with special proclamations at the gala.
"Since 1854, Buckingham Routh has contributed to building this community," said New Haven Mayor John DeStefano. " Buckingham Routh has seen its home city change from mercantile to industrial to a knowledgebased economy, and they have adapted with the times while remaining a bedrock member of the New Haven community."