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Shreve McGonegal Celebrates 100 Years in F.C.

John Shreve (above), 68, began working at what was then his grandfather’s business when he was 16. He took over the business in the 1970s.
John Shreve (above), 68, began working at what was then his grandfather’s business when he was 16. He took over the business in the 1970s. (Photo: Patricia Leslie/News-Press)

This Thursday, at the entrance and dock at Shreve/McGonegal, there’s scheduled to be a 100th birthday party going on, and you’re invited to the celebratory lunch with hot dogs, ‘burgers, and all the fixuns.

The party goes from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

In these fast times it’s hard to find businesses which have been around 100 years, but at the plumbing and remodeling center, “we plan to be around 100 more years,” said John Shreve, the grandson of the founder, Carroll V. Shreve, in an interview at the company’s offices at 212 N. West Street.

His grandfather started the new construction business right out of his house at the corner of North West and Broad where Sunoco is now.

Flash ahead several decades to the 1950s and find the company at a new building across the street where Wells Fargo Bank is.

Still another move later on took it a few feet away to its current site on N. West, birthday party headquarters.

The name change to Shreve/McGonegal came from Shreve’s purchase in the 1980s of the F.A. McGonegal business which specialized in kitchen and bath remodeling projects.

Now the firm offers electrical, HVAC, carpentry, tile work, remodeling, and handy man services and parts, and caters to homeowners, and small businesses. It devotes “more personalized care” to customer needs than what might be found at a big-box retailer, Shreve said.

On the right side of the image is the business’ first ledger entry from when it opened in 1915. (Photo: Courtesy of Shreve McGonegal)
On the right side of the image is the business’ first ledger entry from when it opened in 1915. (Photo: Courtesy of Shreve McGonegal)

When he was 16, John Shreve, now 68, began working summers at his grandfather’s business, digging ditches (“like everyone else who started”), and he helped solve plumbing problems, too.
His father, William C. Shreve, ran the company from the 1950s to the 1970s when John Shreve and others took over.

John Shreve has no plans to retire anytime soon: “I enjoy it. I like to come in and take care of business.

“Most employees have been here a long time, some for 15, 20, 25 years.”

This September will be the 13th anniversary at Shreve/McGonegal for William Jenkins, 48, who began work there as a carpenter.

“Basically, it’s just a wonderful place,” Jenkins said. “It’s like a family. Just the atmosphere, the work, and the people. Everyone’s friendly.”

Jenkins travels daily to the shop from his home in Capitol Heights, Maryland which is not a bad commute, he said, since it’s only “about 20 or 25 minutes each way, and I’m going against the traffic.”

The times have not been totally rosy for the business over its lifespan. During the 1990s economic boom, it employed about 50, a number which has dwindled to less than half that now with 17 employees.

When asked if technology had made changes at the workplace, Shreve said, “technology affects everything.” The company uses computers for scheduling, jobs, inventory, and financial analysis.

Robots, however, are not on Shreve’s drawing board. He is not looking to hire any robots which can crawl under a house and make plumbing repairs. At least, for now.

According to a company statement, it’s not certain how long the business will remain at its present location, but wherever it goes, it shall remain in the area, always mindful of the founder’s mission: Unparalleled integrity and quality service, Shreve said.

Besides Shreve, other company owners are Jim Frank, Chuck Leake, and Coaty Frank.