Hutzel Plumbing & Heating Company, Inc. of Ann Arbor, Michigan has earned many distinctions over the past 155 years. As the oldest continuously operating plumbing company in Michigan, and the third-oldest continuously operating business in Ann Arbor, Hutzel has been honored by both the Historical Society of Michigan and the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission. This outstanding record of service and contribution to the growth and vitality of our state didn’t come about by chance.
It began May 1, 1857, when German immigrant August Frederick Hutzel established Hutzel and Company, originally a three-man operation offering a diverse inventory, at 14 S. Main Street (later to become 114 S. Main).
Having arrived in Ann Arbor in 1839, August was a true pioneer of business and became well-known in the area when his store furnishing “groceries, paints, brushes, glass, mints and oils” (per an old advertisement) became a favorite gathering place for farmers and tradesmen alike.
Soon, sons Hermann and Titus joined their father as partners at Hutzel and Company. The younger son, Titus, learned the tinning and plumbing trades on his own before returning to Ann Arbor to join the family business in 1878. Ultimately, it was his vision of the future that gave new direction to the firm. As the demand for new amenities such as gas, electric lighting, central heating and indoor plumbing expanded, Titus set up a plumbing shop in his father’s paint store to provide products and services to fill the needs. Claw-footed bathtubs, enameled lavatories, water closets and installation of steam and hot water heating systems became their stock in trade.
Throughout the 1880s, the Hutzel name became synonymous with progress. They continued to grow with the times through innovation and perseverance. They were known as shrewd, honest, “modern” businessmen who treated their customers and employees well and took an active part in the Ann Arbor community. This Hutzel tradition continues still today.
As a contractor to the privately held Ann Arbor Water Works Company, Hutzel laid many miles of cast iron water pipe along the city’s streets. They did similar work for other communities in Michigan, as well as in Streator and Elgin, Illinois. In 1889, Hermann and Titus bought their father, August Hutzel’s, interest in the company. In 1915, another August Hutzel, the son of Titus, joined the firm as a partner.
The Hutzel Plumbing and Heating Company continued to serve the growing Ann Arbor community by providing products and services for the stylish, still impressive homes that line Washtenaw Avenue and the Inglis mansion on Highland Road.
In 1919, the firm moved its headquarters to 119 E. Washington, near Fourth Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor. The year 1953 saw the last Hutzel, August, retire from the firm. A new partnership including Clyde Jones, John Kagay and Charles Andress (who merged his firm with Hutzel but retained the Hutzel name) took over.
Through the years, several notable persons have been involved in ownership and management of the firm, including Lloyd Zill and Bill Romelhardt, who bought into the firm in 1957. Hutzel continued to thrive and grow in Ann Arbor. In 1959, they moved to 2023 W. Stadium Boulevard, and by 1964 needed to move once again, this time to their current home at 2311 S. Industrial Highway. In 1966, Gene Cummins joined Lloyd and Bill as Secretary-Treasurer before eventually becoming principal owner.
In 1986, Hutzel acquired the Gallup Heating & Air Conditioning Division of Gallup-Silkworth Inc., retaining Gallup’s employees, equipment and products. This allowed them to expand and strengthen their market share in the plumbing, heating and air conditioning business in Southeastern Michigan. Over time, Hutzel Company has received numerous awards and recognitions, including being recognized at the Michigan Plumbing & Mechanical Contractor Association’s 100th Anniversary for being the State’s Oldest Plumbing Company. This was both an honor and a distinction for the Hutzel name.
When Gene Cummins passed away in 1997, the Company was taken over by his wife and their children, who today are the principal owners and operators of this historic company. In keeping with the pace set by the original Hutzel family, Hutzel Company continues to keep up with the changing times, offering products and services most in demand. They have not, however, abandoned the customers who contributed to their growth and stability throughout the years.
Hutzel Company’s large, well-trained, all-union staff of licensed plumbers provides round-the-clock service for homeowners and businesses alike. Each job, large or small, residential or commercial, remodeling or new installation, receives prompt, careful, professional attention. After all, Hutzel Plumbing & Heating Company, Inc. expects to be around for another 155 years.