Highly Technical Plumbing, HVAC and Fire Protection Solutions


Howe, Inc. was founded back in 1940 as a residential plumbing and heating services operation. Since that time, its services have grown to include industrial plumbing, fire protection and full HVAC system solutions for residential, commercial and industrial customers in the South Dakota region.
Howe partners with small businesses as well as large companies and institutions across the country; the value of projects it completes ranges from thousands to millions of dollars. The company performs commercial projects from start to finish and for residential customers, Howe offers remodel and repair services. Its design team wisely designs plans around the critical mechanical systems including plumbing and HVAC, and the fire protection systems. The team begins with an architect’s drawings of a new project or a remodel and implements the various systems in the most efficient way possible.

Howe provides the various fixtures and products that are required and performs the installation as well; customers also have the option to purchase products on their own.

The company has grown significantly since its inception with just a handful of employees, and is extremely proud of the team it has built in an industry that is becoming increasingly challenging. “It is hard to find good employees that want to pursue plumbing, HVAC and fire protection as a trade these days,” says Josh Howe, Vice President of Howe, Inc. The shortage of skilled trades is a challenge plaguing the entire industry, but 100 employees now work at Howe in a modern, fun and exciting work environment that focuses on hard work and customer satisfaction. The company hosts quarterly potluck dinners to get all the staff together and increase the camaraderie in the workplace.

As the fourth generation with the company, the Howe boys – Justin, President and son of Larry Howe and Josh, Vice President and son of Ronald Howe – look forward to taking the business in the right direction and hopefully seeing the fifth generation, their kids, come on board.

Howe strives to improve its services and processes daily to maintain its growth. The company considers it a necessity to uphold the original values of good service and high quality products while regularly introducing new techniques and technology that can improve efficiency and quality. Incorporating new technology not only helps with daily field operations; it also makes the trade more attractive to younger generations.

To assist with the industry’s workforce challenges and engage the millennial generation, Howe takes part in numerous job fairs annually and visits with local technology schools and colleges to share the benefits of entering a trade, specifically plumbing, HVAC and fire protection. “There is always going to be a need for these services,” Josh explains. “When a kid comes out of high school and hears the word plumbing, it’s not a very attractive word, so getting in front of them at an early age and explaining what we actually do, and the electronics and robotics that we have to make jobs easier, is huge.” Plumbing is not necessarily the dirty sewer job it has gained a reputation for; it is an essential position that has become highly technical. Howe is always pushing to learn new techniques throughout all divisions of the company.

The field technicians at Howe, Inc. use tablets and iPads to input data and keep track of project management for increased accuracy. “In our area we are the first ones to do that; it is obviously a huge expense for a lot of companies, but we see the value of technicians being able to pull up the software that we use to see all the plans, submittals and change orders on the iPad,” says Josh. This project management software is called Procore and the company uses hh2 cloud software to allow employees to keep track of labor hours and scheduling on the iPad. Indeed, Howe prefers information to be kept as digitally as possible. Sage 300 is the software used for accounting and dispatch, enabling technicians in the field to be updated right away about upcoming projects.

Howe uses Trimble GIS data collection hardware and software solutions to balance the head office plans with the field operations. This technology is used to map the jobsite and put together a three-dimensional design to ensure that there are no mechanical collisions or other conflicts. Other investments in technology at the company include laser-guided installation equipment for precise placement of parts, and radio-dispatched trucks with GPS tracking to ensure fast service. Howe is proud to be at the forefront of new technology developments in the Sioux Falls region, which has many other large mechanical contracting firms within its population of two hundred and fifty thousand people.

The team at Howe believes that, fundamentally, its values are what set it apart from the competition. The values that were established in 1940 are still followed today. “You get the family-oriented mentality with the new-age service,” says Josh. “We try to give the customer the best we can, no matter if they are a one-time customer or a lifelong customer.” All projects, regardless of size, receive the same high level of service. As the company website states, “Service is one aspect of Howe that has remained essentially the same since 1940. We’re prompt, responsive, and friendly. Our technicians are professional and experienced.”

Another advantage to working with Howe is that it offers twenty-four hour emergency service to customers in need. The company has four technicians on call every week: a plumber, a fire protection specialist, a residential heating and air technician and a commercial heating and air technician. Always at the forefront of innovation, Howe has found unique ways to prefabricate parts in-house to increase efficiency and ensure that deadlines for installation are met. It has exceptional industrial fabrication capabilities with some of the largest capacity forming machines in its shop.

Howe has also built close relationships with its suppliers, many of which are local branches of nationwide companies. The company consistently works with Ferguson Enterprise, Inc. and Ferguson Fire & Fabrication, and also considers Lennox Heating & Cooling HVAC Systems and Bryant to be reliable suppliers.

In the last year, Howe developed a complete commercial HVAC department in the company that includes installation and preventative maintenance. Previously, it did not offer commercial HVAC ductwork and venting, but it recently took advantage of the opportunity to bring in some new talent and create two new divisions in the company.

To be sure, Howe is highly invested in its employees and it demonstrates this commitment through substantial training and support. The company mentors and encourages the staff to improve their skills to the best of their ability and management at Howe also makes sure to listen to all ideas and suggestions made by anyone within the company. The company leads its people to success through hard work and dedication and regularly recognizes specific individuals that go above and beyond with advancement opportunities.

As a result, Howe has been recognized in the South Dakota area for its substantial growth and success. Locally, in Sioux Falls, SD the advertising company “The Local Best” has named Howe, Inc. as the best option in town for heating and cooling contractors and plumbers. Each year, the South Dakota Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors recognizes companies and contractors for actively participating in the evolution of the industry, and in 2014 Howe was awarded the Contractor of the Year award. The company was acknowledged for its efforts to help expand industry educational opportunities in the area and for supporting the state’s continuing educational needs. Howe recognizes the value in investing in education for young students as well as the continued training of its own employees. Indeed, Howe considers regular training to be a necessity in order to offer the high quality service and leading-edge technology upon which it has built its name.

Howe is a successful family-owned and operated company that has grown significantly in its nearly 80-year tenure because of its focus on personalized customer service and highly technical products and equipment. As an expert in the industry, Howe, Inc. partners closely with its customers to provide the exact service that is desired in the most efficient and effective way possible. Last year was one of the company’s strongest for growth, and the team is looking forward to an equally bright future.

Howe is extremely proud of its longevity and stability through the years and is honored that the original values and morals from the 1940s have been carried over. However, not everything at Howe is old-fashioned; it provides its customers with state-of-the-art plumbing, HVAC and fire protection equipment and remains at the leading edge of the latest innovations in technology, training and product development.

June 17, 2021, 10:33 PM EDT