ST. LOUIS - C & R Mechanical Co. has long had a strong presence in the competitive St. Louis and surrounding markets.

ST. LOUIS - C & R Mechanical Co., a full-line mechanical contractor here that also fabricates duct for other companies, has long had a strong presence in the competitive St. Louis and surrounding markets. Company officials say they are always willing to try new methods and create new designs.

State-of-the-art computerized systems are utilized throughout the design, engineering, and fabrication processes. The fabrication shop is constantly being updated with the latest technology available.

The newest addition is the Engel Companion Duct System, or CDS. This duct-connection system provides cost savings in inventory, fabrication, and installation time, but provides a connection system that exceeds the standards of the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association, of which C & R is a member.

Rigid connections

The CDS system uses coil stock to produce the connection, integrating it with the duct flange, which strengthens both the duct and connection. Duct produced with the CDS system is more rigid than duct produced with conventional methods, thereby allowing more sections to be assembled and installed as one piece.

C & R Mechanical has 55,000 sq. ft. of pipefitting and sheet metal shop space that allows the company to fabricate components of a mechanical system in-house and deliver them to a job site or customer on a just-in-time basis.

C & R has developed a unique delivery method that organizes materials for large jobs into large container baskets offsite. Then, when the materials are needed, they can be swung directly onto the floor, without having to create job site storage issues for the general contractor.

"Our company is known for our planning, scheduling, and duct fabrication skills. We are always finding ways to plan a job that will save customers time and money," said company President George Edinger.

C & R's duct fabrication shop is among the largest in the area and has the capability to fabricate galvanized, paint grip, PVC coated, stainless steel, and aluminum materials. Oval and round spiral duct from three- to 90-in. in diameter and 26- through 13-ga. are produced, and rectangular duct from a six-ft. Engel coil line. The company produces custom-fabricated duct of any size or configuration.

For Edinger, owning such a company was a lifelong goal. Edinger started his career in the sheet metal industry on Aug. 26, 1963, at the age of 19. At the time, he was working for Kenneth F. Werley at T-W Heating and Sheet Metal Co. in St. Louis. In an interview from 1999, he recalled how he made the decision to go into the sheet metal industry.

"That day, I was given the opportunity to work either in the shop as an apprentice or in the office," Edinger said. "I asked Mr. Werley where he needed the most help and he informed me that would be in the office, so that's where I started."

T-W was an industrial sheet metal contractor that employed up to 200 workers. "It was there I got a tremendous education in the next 11 years doing everything from sweeping floors in the shop, driving trucks, repairing machinery, making sheet metal connectors, doing the billings, bookkeeping payroll, estimating projects, ordering material for job and job coordination."

Edinger added that such an education proved invaluable when the opportunity arose in 1974 to become a partner in whet was then known as C & R Heating and Service Co. He started on May 1, 1974, and became president in 1975.

The company grew rapidly, reaching $10 million in annual sales by the end of the decade. That led to his decision to build a 20,000-sq.-ft. tilt-up concrete structure for the company, designed especially for the fabrication of rectangular ductwork. The company eventually dedicated an additional 52,000 sq. ft. for round and oval duct fabrication. Company officials say C & R can produce up to 8 million pounds of duct annually.

The company has had many high-profile projects. Those recently completed include Shaw Park Plaza in Clayton, Mo.; the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis; and a Maryland, Mo. Building for Qwest Communications.

A few years ago, C & R was tapped to make the dust for a university in the former Soviet Union. Along with the duct, the company sent two workers to the school who taught the Russian workers how to install it.