HIBBING — After tripling its business over the past six years, Iron Range Plumbing and Heating, Inc. is seeking to expand and eyeing space at the vacant Johnson Floral building on 1st Avenue.
Brice and Craig Walli, the brothers who own the local contracting giant, told the Hibbing Daily Tribune they have been at their current location roughly half-mile south for five years and it no longer fits the company needs. They expect to move into the new building in the fall of this year.
The business has nearly doubled its staff in recent years to include four master plumbers, one master pipe-fitter, four journeymen, four apprentices and four part-time office employees.
“Having good employees enable us to take on more projects,” said Brice Walli, 41, who explained how the family business which started in his father Kevin Walli’s garage in 1987 now involves his two sons and a brother-in-law.
Today, the sibling owners also work alongside their wives, Linnea and Molly, who have helped them complete commercial and residential projects, such as the local Marshview and Westgate apartments, mechanical renovations at Hibbing High School and Habitat for Humanity homes in Hibbing and Virginia.
Standing beside his brother in their office, Craig Walli, 37, was jovial when adding, “It can always be tricky when family is involved, but there’s a good line of communication here. My motto is that without employees there wouldn’t be us and without us there wouldn’t be employees. It all comes down to communication.”
This past Wednesday night, the Walli brothers received approval for a $50,000 loan to purchase and upgrade their new main office from the Hibbing Economic Development Authority. The total project is estimated to cost $260,000.
Reached earlier by phone, Hibbing Chamber of Commerce President Vicki Hagberg told the HDT that “it’s important that HEDA supports the growth of local business in our community and it’s exciting to see the beneficial impact of them moving to downtown Hibbing.” Hadberg’s encouragement comes as the Hibbing Chamber has been steadily focusing its efforts to improve the aesthetic and economic vitality of downtown. The plumbing and heating business is a long-time member of the Chamber.
“Craig and I made a conscious effort to buy downtown,” Brice Walli said.
Craig Walli continued the train of thought, “This is where we live. We strive to support the community and improve downtown. This is where we live. We want people to drive by and say, ‘This is a nice downtown building.’”