East Bay plumbing contractor celebrates 4 generations and 100 years in enterprise

L J Kruse Company in Berkeley California is celebrating 100 years in business this year. The plumbing and heating firm has been continually owned and operated by the Kruse family since it was started by Louis Joseph Kruse in 1916. Andy Kruse, President and part of the third generation of leadership said in a statement: “We are very excited to begin our second century of plumbing, heating and cooling services in the Bay Area. I often think about what my grandfather Louis would say if he saw the operation today. Although the past is important to us, we are more focused on the future as the fourth generation is now poised to take over.”

Founder Louis J Kruse was the son of a German immigrant who came to California to mine the gold fields of the Sierra foothills. Louis was born in Grass Valley in 1889 and when his father died a few years later in a mysterious mining accident, the family moved to San Francisco. Growing up in The City, Louis enjoyed working with his hands and studied gas fitting at Lick-Wilmerding which was then a trade school.

After the great earthquake of 1906 Louis realized the vast potential for tradesmen in the East Bay and moved to Oakland. He built a home in the Rockridge neighborhood and in 1916 he opened his plumbing shop on College Avenue. After his death in 1946 his son Edward H. Kruse directed the fast postwar growth of the company. The firm now works in all five bay area counties and is run by the third generation, Dave and Andy Kruse. The fourth generation of Kruse leadership is in place ready to lead. This includes Janell Kruse Yates VP, Nathan Kruse VP, Ben Kruse Union Plumber, and Will Kruse Dispatcher. “We need youth and the energy it brings” Andy says. “When our grandfather was young he had a vision, and this next generation does too”

Nathan Kruse and Ben Kruse; Trimble layout at the Alameda County Hall of Justice.

L J Kruse Company operates two divisions from its 20,000 square feet headquarters in Berkeley, Ca. (The building was renovated to LEED GOLD standards in 2012). The Construction Division concentrates on large commercial and residential projects with a strong emphasis on health care and design-build capability. The company utilizes in-house CAD, BIM and pre-fabrication to install complex plumbing and piping systems in new and existing buildings throughout the area. The Service Division focuses on repair and maintenance of commercial, industrial and residential plumbing, heating and cooling systems. All field work for both divisions is performed by union plumbers, pipefitters, and sheet metal workers and is supported by an office staff of experienced managers and executives. The firm is one of the few plumbing companies in the area that offers a range of service from a one hour service call in your home to a multi million dollar hospital plumbing


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