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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.

Wilmington Ma 10-26-2016 2016 Welder, Dan Coffey (cq) working at the J.C. Cannistraro fabrication facility in Wilmington. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Welder Dan Coffey works on a piping assembly for a commercial heating system at the Cannistraro fabrication facility in Wilmington.

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.

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.

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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.

Wilmington Ma 10-26-2016 2016 Raw Materials are off-loaded at the J.C. Cannistraro fabrication facility in Wilmington. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Lengths of raw pipe are off-loaded and prepared for manufacturing at the Cannistraro fabrication facility in Wilmington.
Wilmington Ma 10-26-2016 2016 Raw Materials at the J.C. Cannistraro fabrication facility in Wilmington. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Piping is color-coded for different customers at the Cannistraro facility in Wilmington.
Wilmington Ma 10-26-2016 2016 A portrait of Jason Burr (cq) working inside the plumbing shop at the J.C. Cannistraro fabrication facility in Wilmington. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Welder Jason Burr prepares to drive a forklift inside the plumbing shop at Cannistraro’s fabrication facility in Wilmington.
Wilmington Ma 10-26-2016 2016 Rich Dunlay (cq) at a Plasma pipe cutting location at the J.C. Cannistraro fabrication facility in Wilmington. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Rich Dunlay uses a plasma cutter on industrial pipe in Wilmington.
Wilmington Ma 10-26-2016 2016 Brian Janiac (cq) left in the plumbing shop at the Cannistraro fabrication facility in Wilmington. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
In Wilmington, plumber Brian Janiac transfers copper piping from the assembly line to a truck for delivery.
Wilmington Ma 10-26-2016 2016 Forklift driver Paul Sheehan (cq) un-loading materials at the J.C. Cannistraro fabrication facility in Wilmington. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Pipefitter and forklift driver Paul Sheehan unloads materials in Wilmington.
Watertown Ma 10-26-2016 Bao Lam (cq) works in document control for the company. He was at Cannistraro's Headquarters in Watertown. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Bao Lam processes bid documents and plans at the company’s Watertown headquarters.
Watertown Ma 10-26-2016 A meeting of the Estimating Group is where the process begins. The meeting between Cannistraro & Harrington was with left to right Michelle Godlewski (cq) Cort Naegelin (cq) and Kourtney Mierzejewski (cq) right at Cannistraro Headquarters in Watertown. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
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.
Watertown Ma 10-26-2016 Jared Robar (cq) at J.C. Cannistraro Headquarters in Watertown. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
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.
Watertown Ma 10-26-2016 2016 J.C. Cannistraro employee Kurt Noelte (cq) at the Centraal Rock Gym in Watertown. He was on his lunch break and spent some time on the rock walls. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
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.
Watertown Ma 10-26-2016 2016 The Plumbing Museum is now housed in an old ice house purchased by the J.C. Cannistraro company. The museum offers a unique look at our America History. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
The main display area of the Plumbing Museum is set up for a meeting of Women in Construction.
Watertown Ma 10-26-2016 2016 The Plumbing Museum is now housed in an old ice house purchased by the J.C. Cannistraro company. The museum offers a unique look at our America History. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
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.
Watertown Ma 10-26-2016 2016 The Plumbing Museum is now housed in an old ice house purchased by the J.C. Cannistraro company. The museum offers a unique look at our America History. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Thomas Crapper, often credited as the inventor of the toilet, is a highlight in another Plumbing Museum display.
Cambridge Ma 10-27-2016 John Kuks (cq) of J.C. Cannistraro was doing a safety shower install at a job site on Binney Street in Cambridge. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
John Kuks, a Cannistraro employee, works on a shower assembly at a laboratory under construction on Binney Street in Cambridge.
Cambridge Ma 10-27-2016 Danielle Weiler is a Assistant Project Manager at J.C. Cannistraro. She was on a job site on Binney Street in Cambridge. She was counting employees at the end of their shift during a safety huddle. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Assistant project manager Danielle Weiler leads a “toolbox talk,” recapping the day’s activities at the Cambridge laboratory project.
Cambridge Ma 10-27-2016 Foreman John Curtis (cq) at a Binney Street construction site in Cambridge The J.C. Cannistraro company is part of the buildings construction. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Foreman John Curtis on site at the Binney Street laboratory.
Cambridge Ma 10-27-2016 Jerry Driscoll (cq) of J.C. Cannistraro was brazing copper pipes at a job site on Binney Street in Cambridge. Boston Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs
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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