After five years, six months, and 19 days the Colineri family officially re-opened their location on Columbus Place. In 2010, two lightning strikes caused a fire that severely damaged the family business’ primary location and moved their shop temporarily to the next block over on Hawthorne Street. They were open for business the very next day, providing service and supplies to customers. Still, for company president John Colineri along with his brothers Mark and Michael and son Jason, the plan was to always move back to the place that has been run by the Colineri’s for over 40 years.
“It was a long process,” he said as he talked about the half a decade journey from that September night till now. The original building had 60 years of material and it took a couple of years to empty the building and salvage what they we could and dispose of the rest. Demolition of the building – due to the fire affected the roof which had to be reinforced to gut the insides – took one whole summer. The old 4 ft. deep foundation footings which were hand mixed way back in 1907 took another whole summer to replace and restructure due to new requirements between footings.
Little by little, the new renovations started taking shape. There was the new flooring, a modern display area, counters, padded stools, a coffee area, a new back office, and even an ADA-complaint washroom. The renovated building has transformed the old plumbing shop into a true store with a modern look.
The first day they re-opened on April 4th, the clientele and compliments welcomed the new look back to Hawthorne. One significant improvement, a ‘game changer’ as one customer called it, is off-street parking in front of the building. John commented, “What we tried to do is have the customer in mind when renovating. We’re pleased the way it came out and I’m sure the customers are too.”
The building itself has a history all its own that goes back over a century. In 1907 it was the location of the borough’s first church. In 1946 John’s father, a Navy veteran, went to work at Viking Plumbing which was started by the Olsen family from Norway. He later became a partner and then John, an Air Force veteran, got out of the service and went to work with him in 1974. A few years later, they bought the business. John recalls, “I’m pretty proud of my father. He started out as a worker and in the mid 70s he ended up owning the company and here we are, me and my brothers. And now we have my son with me.”
The Colineri’s have seen people come in throughout the years with their grandfathers, then their fathers, and now those same men – fathers themselves – are coming in with their sons.
Even though the building has a new look, it is old-fashioned customer service and optimism that John and his family see as the reason for their success. “When somebody comes in and they have a problem, we could probably solve it for them. We take the time to help them out.”
Keeping to its roots, the building which was originally a church, was blessed. John recounted something Father Greg told them right after the fire when they walked thorough to witness the damage, and it has stayed with him, “Keep this in mind. We’re going into a building, we’re not going into a wake.”
From those ashes, John – forever the optimist – and his family have continued to service the community never giving up on opening their doors again on Columbus Place. 2,027 days later, that goal became a reality.
Viking Plumbing & Heating Supply is located at 107 Columbus Place and on the internet at www.vikingsupplynj.com (link). Their hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. till 5 p.m. and Saturday from 7 o’clock till noon.