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From left: Dawn Ermen, Derek Ermen, and Ronald Ermen. Image: Submitted/Ermen Plumbing

Moncton plumbing company celebrates 90 years in service

By Regis Phillips Feb 12, 2024 | 5:30 AM

Ermen Plumbing & Heating in Moncton is celebrating 90 years in business, but those nine decades have not come without some hardship and determination.

The business was founded during the height of the Great Depression, and like most communities, the Moncton area wasn’t spared.

Sam Ermen Sr. found work but faced adversity at a young age, according to his grandson, Derek Ermen, who now co-owns the family business with his sister, Dawn Ermen.

“He was the son of an immigrant, but unfortunately how the story goes is he was in a family of four or five children, living on what was River Street where the train tracks used to be back in the day. His father was run over by a train during the winter time,” said Derek Ermen.

“[Sam Ermen Sr.] was 20 years old, the eldest of the kids. and his mother was living in a house with a dirt floor.”

Ermen Sr. was determined to provide for his family despite the setbacks. In 1934, the novice plumber made his first service call with a leather tool satchel and a bicycle.

Ermen Plumbing & Heating started in an apartment at 699 Main Street. From 1935 until 1977, the business was run by Sam Ermen Sr. and found itself in many different locations in Greater Moncton, spending two and a half decades on Wesley Street, and then nearly two years on Botsford Street.

Now located on Millennium Boulevard, the company has close to 40 employees, and 35 service vehicles. It is now serving third- and fourth-generation clients, with more than 7,000 service calls in each of the past two years.

Sam Ermen Sr. passed down the company to his son, Ronald, in 1977. The torch was later passed to his son, Derek, and daughter, Dawn, who continue to co-lead the business.

Both generations of Ermens got an early start in the plumbing business. Ron was 15 years old, Dawn was 16, and Derek was only 12.

“I always knew I would be a part of it. We have the plumbing and we have units in town too, real estate, but we managed I guess for three generations, that’s all we’ve down, that’s what we do,” said Derek Ermen

“I always knew I’d be in a family business,” said Dawn Ermen. “Both sides of our family, our mom’s and dad’s side, were both the third generation for both sides, so we had a lot of opportunities within our family.”

With the advent of its commercial construction department in the 1980s, Ermen has been involved in some of Moncton’s largest commercial projects, including the expansion of Champlain Place, Crystal Palace and Magic Mountain.

“In my father’s generation, he taught me, ‘You are honest, you have a lot of integrity, and you are fair with people.’ Derek and Dawn have all those things and even more,” said Ron Ermen.

Both Derek and Dawn are involved in several community projects. Derek handles most of the industry involvement while Dawn is the company’s community connection.

Derek was a board member of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada, Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance and the Mechanical Contractors Association of New Brunswick.

He serves as an advisor to the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating and was on the National Advisory Committee for trades with the Canadian Construction Association. He’s a past member of the United Way of Greater Moncton and Southeastern New Brunswick’s investment committee and current Day of Caring.

Ermen Plumbing has sponsored the Greater Moncton Dragonboat Festival, where Dawn serves on the planning committee. She is also on the board of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton.

For Derek and Dawn, giving back to the community has been a company and family priority.

“After 90 years, we would not be what we are today without our community, we are local, and we like to give back to locals,” said Dawn.

“Everyone is cognizant of some of the social issues we have today, and I think if we don’t start focusing on our youth those problems are not gonna get any better,” Derek added.

“Even in our personal lives and our corporate lives, we believe it’s everyone’s responsibility to help raise a village.”

For both Derek and Dawn, the word tradition means a lot as they celebrate the company’s 90th anniversary.

“Our grandfather started this, and we are proud that it is turning 90,” said Dawn. “We would love to make it even bigger and better for the next generation.”

It’s a point echoed by Derek: “We trust each other completely. It’s all we’ve ever known.”

1945 Ermen invoice for $1.90 - Image: Submitted/The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton
From Left to Right - Frank Ermen (who arrived from Italy) and his son, Sam Ermen Sr. Image: Submitted/The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton