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Profile appeared in our 29-1 Issue – April 2012

Any longtime Bakersfield resident knows the name Gundlach. That’s because generations of Bakersfield families have utilized this local plumbing business over the course of the 100+ years it’s been in town.

Gundlach’s Plumbing was established way back in 1900 by Max Gundlach Jr. and his partner A.C. Wroot. The two decided to open up a plumbing repair shop on the corner of 20th and Chester streets under the name Gundlach & Wroot.

It was later, in 1927, that Rees Jones bought into the business (for a grand total of $4,666) and shortly thereafter, the company expanded its services to include tinning and sheet metal work.

Former Gundlach’s building - 2234 Chester Ave.

One point of pride for everyone at Gundlach’s is that its state contractor’s license is No. 1338! Because that number is so low, employees still receive odd looks from customers when they see how low the number is.

In 1930, the business was officially renamed and incorporated under the name Gundlach Plumbing and Sheet Metal Co. Ltd. It wasn’t long after that that the business relocated to 2324 Chester Avenue, the location of a former horse stable and automotive repair building.

Four years later, in 1934, Cecil and Lee Jones joined their father’s business. The family worked together to continue to expand their services, bringing air conditioning services to their growing business. Cecil received training in New York at the Carrier factory. In fact, you can still find old water-cooled systems that were built from scratch by Cecil and Lee in some of Bakersfield’s older homes and buildings in town…and, yes, they are still running today.

Unfortunately, Max Gundlach passed away in 1941. Shortly after, his widow, Gussie Gundlach, sold the remainder of the business to the Jones family.

Max Gundlach (left) with business partners in showroom on Chester Ave.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Gundlach’s became one of the largest mechanical contractors in town. Just a few decades later, in 1985, the business relocated to 2313 K Street for a short time before moving to 1330 32nd Street.

In April of 2004, Trent Jones (the son of Cecil Jones) and his daughter, Jennifer Starbuck, sold the longtime family-run business to Ken and Shelly Wonderly. It was a great fit because Ken had been in the business for over twenty years and had worked for some of the largest mechanical contractors in the country.

Under Ken’s leadership the company has expanded its state-of-the-art solutions for plumbing and air conditioning customers.

At its current relocation of 4415 Foster Avenue, the company is continuing to build on a rich history and demonstrate a commitment to future growth. To this day, Gundlach’s offers its customers “today’s technology with good old fashioned integrity.”

Gundlach’s has always been a family-owned company and that’s apparent with the current staff—there are four members of the Wonderly family working at the store.

Gundlach’s was one of the first to sell indoor plumbing  fixtures in Kern County

This local business has been involved in the building of the Bakersfield community since the beginning. Over the years, Gundlach’s has completed projects in locations such as Minter Field, St. Francis Church, Memorial Hospital’s maternity ward, and several local high schools. Not only have they had a hand in helping to construct the landscape of our town, but they also believe in giving back to the community.

The company sponsors local children’s sports teams, supports churches, and has been involved in the annual “Fight for Air Walk” for the American Lung Association. The owners of Gundlach’s have allowed churches to use their building, and donate regularly to Church Without Walls, a nonprofit organization based in Oildale which focuses on assisting the homeless.

The employees of Gundlach’s take pride in their work, and doing what’s right. Even though they have experienced a great amount of growth, they continue to demonstrate integrity in their work. The standards of Gundlach’s performance are set exceptionally high, which is why they take so much pride in the warranties and the parts and services they offer to residents and commercial clients alike.

It’s not hard to see why the business has continued to grow over the years. The knowledgeable, friendly staff puts clients ahead of everything else, continuing a tradition started by Gundlach and Wroot way back in 1900.

Parts counter - 1930s

In addition to their dedication to customer service, the company also focuses on expanding its areas of expertise so that they can better serve the people of Bakersfield and Kern County.

They can do it all. Everything from indoor plumbing to air conditioning and heating, Gundlach’s has been a pioneer of new technology in Kern County. This amassed knowledge of past and present has enabled the business to be one of the few companies able to make repairs in older homes without jeopardizing the vintage style.

Also, Gundlach’s has received numerous certifications that continue to allow its technicians and plumbers to stay ahead of the game, making homes safer and more energy efficient by offering building energy analysis, HVAC installation/replacement/repairs, plumbing repairs, plumbing repipes, water heaters, and kitchen and bathroom renovations.

Even though Gundlach’s has grown continuously over the past 112 years, the company anticipates even more growth over the coming years because it knows that residents of Kern County respect the high quality products and personal service that only Gundlach’s offers.

© 2011 - Bakersfield Magazine Inc.
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