History

History

In the early 1900’s, Jack Sr., emigrated to Canada and embarked on a cross-country journey starting in Toronto with brief stops in Regina, Saskatchewan and Lethbridge, Alberta before finally settling down in Prince Rupert, BC (approx. 40 miles from Ketchikan, Alaska).  At each of these stops, Jack would open up a new plumbing business and start up a local soccer team.  After nearly 20 years in Canada, Jack got tired of the weather and headed south for sunny Long Beach, California. On his trek south in 1923, Jack made a stop in southwest Washington.  At that time, the Long Bell Timber Company was preparing to build the largest sawmill in the world on the banks of the Columbia River.  The town’s founder, Robert A Long, had to transform this lowland bog into a community capable of supporting such a grand endeavor.  The company town needed schools, housing for employees, and a major hotel.  Jack Sr. wasn’t a visionary like Robert A Long – the town was named Longview for “Long’s view” – but he knew they would need a good plumber.

Jack scrapped his plans for California and setup shop in “downtown” Longview on Commerce Avenue.  He promptly started a soccer team called the Longview Timber Barons and, in the early years, the soccer team was more successful than the plumbing business.

The Timber Barons won the Governor’s Cup and the Oregon and Washington State Championships.  The team was made up of immigrants who had come to the “new country” after WWI.  The plumbing business kept pace with the town’s needs for the next few decades.

By the late 1960’s, Longview had changed. Its economy was bustling and industrial work was becoming more prevalent. Jack H. Kelly, Jr. now ran JH Kelly and knew that in order to maintain its status as the number one provider of construction services, this company would have to change its tactics.

And it did.

In the early 70’s the third “Kelly” took over JH Kelly.  Longview was now booming with industrial customers in the pulp and paper industry.  Dan Evans, Jack Kelly Jr.’s son-in-law, bought the business and became the new head of JH Kelly.  Dan, together with his long-time friend Terry Major, made the conscious decision to move away from the residential plumbing work JH Kelly was known for and expand into industrial plumbing/mechanical work.

It was a big risk but it paid off.

By the mid 80’s, JH Kelly had expanded to employ nearly forty times its workforce of the 60’s and 70’s; Kelly had been awarded its largest contract to date totaling $85 million dollars; and, new industries and services were being introduced into Kelly’s portfolio.  Now, nearly a century later, JH Kelly is one of the largest industrial mechanical contractors in the nation.  We have 1,000 employees and consistently see revenues of more than $300 million a year.  And, although this organization looks different on paper from when Jack Kelly, Sr. first opened its doors in 1923, one thing still remains: the trust built on the job is the lasting measure of success.

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821 Third Avenue / PO Box 2038 / Longview, WA 98632T 360.423.5510 / F 360.423.9170 / mail@jhkelly.com