In 1895, Walker L. Gary was building a mechanical business that has thrived for more than a century. Serving the Washington Metropolitan area as W. L. Gary & Company, W. L. Gary Company, Inc, and Gary the Plumber, W. L. Gary Company has continued to provide quality mechanical services over the years.
Walker Littlebury Gary
In an era when Washington, DC was flourishing as a political and social capital, growing with new construction, a young Washingtonian plumber began a plumbing, heating, and roofing business. In 1895, Walker Littlebury Gary began building a mechanical business, W. L. Gary & Company, that has thrived for more than a century.
As Walker L. Gary’s business grew throughout the 1900s and 1910s, he not only hired experienced tinners and plumbers but also young men interested in learning the tinning and plumbing trade. The company office moved to several different locations on 14th St NW before settling at 3111 14th St, a location purchased by Walker and his wife Roy in 1913.
On April 7, 1923, Walker incorporated his business as W. L. Gary Company, Inc. Both of his sons as well as a couple business partners, including Phillip Moorehead, his son-in-law, received shares in the company. With his commitment to innovation and ethics, Walker grew his company to three locations in DC.
In the 1930s, the company was hit not only by the Depression sweeping the nation but also by several deaths. In May of 1930, the beloved founder of Gary Company passed away leaving his eldest son William Spencer Gary in charge. Unfortunately, William Spencer also passed away only a few months later. Roy Spencer Gary, Walker’s wife, became the president of the company, while William (Bill) Gary, Walker and Roy’s youngest, left school to run the business. As a result of the Depression, Gary Company closed the two additional locations, leaving only their home office at 3111 14th Street NW.
Turning it around
In the 1940s, to help around the office, Bill hired his nephew, William C. (Buddy) Greer. Buddy learned bookkeeping from Phillip Moorehead, Bill’s brother-in-law and shareholder in the company. Slowly but surely Buddy and Bill, the management team for the next several decades, were able to fix the damages done to the company during the Depression.
Also in the 1940’s, in support of the nation, W. L. Gary Company joined the war effort. With a contract from the Department of the Navy, the sheet metal shop built scale model ships for the David Taylor Model Basin. After the Navy tested the ships they sent them back to Gary Company for repairs.
Gary the Plumber
In the late 1950s, Bill Gary decided to concentrate on plumbing and heating, closing the sheet metal and roofing part of the business after the retirement of the sheet metal shop foreman. As a result, W. L. Gary Company, Inc. came to be known to our customers as Gary the Plumber.
In the 1960s, Gary Company received our first hospital job at Washington Hospital Center. For more than 25 years, crews of various sizes from Gary the Plumber remained in the hospital, working on additions and renovations as the hospital grew. Our first work at Washington Hospital Center has lead us to work in many hospitals throughout the Washington, DC area over the past half century.
Up in Smoke
During the 1968 riots in DC , W. L. Gary Company suffered a huge loss. The main Gary office on 3111 14th Street NW, where we had been housed for the previous 55 years, was burned down. Unable to salvage the building or the records inside, W. L. Gary Company had to find a new home. Tuckman-Barbee Construction Company opened their hearts and offices to provide temporary quarters for W. L. Gary Company. After only a few months, we set up shop at our present location at 225 Vine Street NW.
Changes for the Company
In 1967, Gary the Plumber hired our first full time steamfitter journeyman, Joseph (Joe) Dent. With this addition to the team, Gary Company was not only able to better service our heating customers but was also able to provide complete mechanical solutions with the addition of air conditioning as a new service to our clients.
In the mid 70s, W. L. Gary Company grew again by hiring two of Buddy’s sons, Brooke C. Greer as a steamfitter and W. Randall (Randy) Greer as a plumber. With their addition, the 4th generation was on board.
In 1977, Bill Gary passed away after a battle with cancer. His widow, Anne Gary, became president for a few years before passing the role onto her nephew, Buddy Greer. Buddy had been working as the general manager running the day to day operations with the help of Joe Dent.
W. L. Gary Company, Inc.
In the 1980s, Gary the Plumber returned to its legal name, W. L. Gary Company, Inc. With total mechanical solutions being our main focus, the name change was needed to promote this broader offering.
In 1990, Joe Dent became the president and Buddy Greer became the Chairman of the board. A year later, after 50 years with W. L. Gary Company, Buddy Greer passed away. Joe Dent, the only non-family member to hold the office of president, ran W. L. Gary Company for the next 7 years until his retirement. Michael A. (Mike) Dent, Joe Dent’s son, joined the Gary team in 1993 as a project manager after working several years in the industry as a steamfitter, estimator, and project manager.
In 1998, the company passed to Brooke and Randy Greer, sons of Buddy Greer, and Mike Dent, son of Joe Dent. Brooke Greer is the current president of W. L. Gary Company, while Randy Greer is the Executive Vice President overseeing the service department and Mike Dent is the Executive Vice President running the construction department.
We are proud of the legacy that W. L. Gary Company, Inc. represents. There are very few companies in any industry that can boast of over 100 years of serving the Washington Metropolitan area. We remember the spirit of our founder, Walker Littlebury Gary, and his values of dedicated, ethical, and professional service as we continue his vision for this company.”
-W. L. Gary Company, Inc. Owners
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W. L. Gary Celebrates 90 Years of Incorporation
On April 7, 1923, Walker Littlebury Gary incorporated his almost 25 year old plumbing, heating, and tinning business, W. L. Gary Company, Inc. Walker certainly had a vision for his company, which he presumably wished to grow as a means to support his family, his employees, and his community. But, could he ever have imagined…Learn more
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