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PHOTO ESSAY | TOP PLACES TO WORK

Photo essay: J.C. Cannistraro thrives on Boston’s building boom

Now a $200 million family business, the mechanical construction company assembles the piping and plumbing of many of the city’s new high rises.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Welder Dan Coffey works on a piping assembly for a commercial heating system at the Cannistraro fabrication facility in Wilmington.

By Bennie DiNardo

SINCE THE START OF 2014, $26 billion worth of construction has launched in Greater Boston, and billions more in projects are planned — a building boom unlike anything seen here in generations. Workers and companies in the construction industries are operating at full bore, churning out the foundations, steel frames, piping, plumbing, and wiring that brings the towers to life.

J.C. Cannistraro is one of those companies. Founded in 1963 by John Cannistraro Sr., and currently led by the second generation of the family, Cannistraro fabricates and assembles the guts of many of the new high rises popping up on the skyline, such as Vertex Pharmaceuticals at Fan Pier, Millennium Tower at Downtown Crossing, and Pierce Boston in the Fenway. Its revenue rose 28 percent, to $205 million, from 2013 to 2015, and its office workforce has grown significantly in that time.

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Today, Cannistraro builds and assembles piping and plumbing systems at workshops in Wilmington and Stoughton; next year, the company is relocating its fabricating and warehouse operations to a renovated industrial building in Boston’s Seaport District, to be closer to the action.

Its headquarters and planning operations will remain in Watertown, in an old ice house the company purchased in 1984. Since 2007, the ice house has also been home to The Plumbing Museum, a collection of commodes, claw-foot bathtubs, and other plumbing fixtures that once belonged to the American Sanitary Plumbing Museum in Worcester. The main space, surrounded by toilets and tubs, hosts company meetings, outside events — even the occasional wedding.

Boston Globe photographer Jonathan Wiggs went behind the scenes with Cannistraro employees to provide an inside look at the workers who are building the new Boston.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Lengths of raw pipe are off-loaded and prepared for manufacturing at the Cannistraro fabrication facility in Wilmington.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Piping is color-coded for different customers at the Cannistraro facility in Wilmington.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Welder Jason Burr prepares to drive a forklift inside the plumbing shop at Cannistraro’s fabrication facility in Wilmington.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Rich Dunlay uses a plasma cutter on industrial pipe in Wilmington.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

In Wilmington, plumber Brian Janiac transfers copper piping from the assembly line to a truck for delivery.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Pipefitter and forklift driver Paul Sheehan unloads materials in Wilmington.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Bao Lam processes bid documents and plans at the company’s Watertown headquarters.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Estimators from Cannistraro and Harrington Air Systems, a sister company, look over plans and schematics to prepare a bid for a job. From left to right: Michelle Godlewski, Cort Naegelin of Harrington, and Kourtney Mierzejewski.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Jared Robar, a former co-op student who now works full time at Cannistraro, performs a “takeoff” — verifying fixtures and other mechanical components of a bid at headquarters.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Employee Kurt Noelte spends time on the rock wall with co-workers at the Central Rock Gym. Cannistraro provides free membership to employees at the gym, which is located behind the Watertown headquarters.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

The main display area of the Plumbing Museum is set up for a meeting of Women in Construction.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

A cutaway of the interior of a standard home plumbing system is mounted on a wall of the Plumbing Museum. The display is a favorite of school groups that tour the museum.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Thomas Crapper, often credited as the inventor of the toilet, is a highlight in another Plumbing Museum display.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

John Kuks, a Cannistraro employee, works on a shower assembly at a laboratory under construction on Binney Street in Cambridge.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Assistant project manager Danielle Weiler leads a “toolbox talk,” recapping the day’s activities at the Cambridge laboratory project.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Foreman John Curtis on site at the Binney Street laboratory.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

At the Binney Street worksite, Jerry Driscoll brazes copper pipes in a rack that was assembled at the facility in Wilmington.


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