Contractor Spotlight — Grunau Company goes lean and saves customers some “green”

In 1920, Paul J. Grunau established Grunau Company, Inc. located in Milwaukee, Wisc. Originally a plumbing contractor, by 1923 Grunau had also added HVAC services to the company’s capabilities. Soon after, Grunau brought its mechanical expertise to the area of fire protection and sheet metal services. After 40 successful years in Milwaukee, Grunau Company expanded into new markets, including Youngstown and Pittsburgh, among others.

Grunau Logo

Grunau Company is a fire protection electrical contractor with a service location in Youngstown, Ohio.

Today, Grunau Company Fire Protection Division is a NECA-IBEW Electricians member contractor and provides a full range of fire protection services, including:

  • Fire system installation
  • Fire suppression for special hazards
  • Fire protection inspections
  • State-of-the-art alarm systems and monitoring solutions

“Our team members always take pride in undertaking and successfully completing both typical and non-typical projects,” said Jeff Nickel, fire alarm division manager for Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. “The IBEW’s focus on ongoing training and emphasis on delivering quality work has given our professionals the skills, experience and confidence needed to come up with creative solutions to unusual or complex situations and applications.”

A Lean Culture

Grunau trucks

Grunau Company, of Youngstown, embraces lean principles on every job and takes pride in completing both typical and non-typical projects.

Lean is, in simplest terms, principles that encourage efficiency and continuous improvement. While the lean principles have their roots in Japanese manufacturing techniques, a few pioneers began to look for ways to apply lean principles to other industries. Grunau’s Executive Vice President, Ted Angelo, was one such pioneer. In fact, Angelo wrote a book on lean, Lean Construction: One Company’s Journey to Success. Through the persistence of Angelo and the rest of the company’s leadership, Grunau today is positioned as a leader in the lean construction industry.

“By continually examining our processes and looking at ways to eliminate waste, we are able to do things faster and better than ever before,” said Nickel. “Each one of our trucks in the fleet is set up exactly the same way—down to the placement of each tool, so that our employees don’t have to waste time searching for what they need on a job.”

While having a culture dedicated to lean processes saves employees time, it also benefits customers. For example, Grunau has recently been involved in an integrated lean project for Akron Children’s Hospital. This project was one of the first of its kind in Ohio and one of the largest lean projects Grunau has ever been involved with. By integrating lean principles and continuously improving upon processes, Grunau saved the customer $150,000 in material and labor costs compared to the initial estimate.

For more information or for an estimate for your next project, visit, call 330-758-3500 or email