Henry Joseph Pertzborn and his wife Gertrude founded H. J. Pertzborn Plumbing and Fire Protection Corporation. After serving in World War I, Henry returned to the family farm in Cross Plains, Wisconsin and started his apprenticeship as a mason with a local contractor. His strong dislike of mortar drying on his hands made him turn to the plumbing trade.
Working out of his home at 666 Crandall Street in Madison, Henry drove a modified model "A" with the rear half cut off to carry his tools and materials.
Working together, Henry and Gertrude built the business and raised six children. In 1939, the growing business moved to 2505 Monroe Street. During this time, Henry and his crew plumbed many of the homes in the Nakoma area and on the near west side.
By helping after school and during the summers, Henry and Gertrude's oldest son James soon became an integral part of the business’ expansion. James entered the service at the onset of World War II, but returned after the war to begin an apprenticeship in 1946.
The business continued to grow and prosper, and in 1956 the family incorporated the business under the name H. J. Pertzborn Plumbing and Heating. In 1955, the company moved to a new building at 4311 West Beltline - at what was then the edge of town. During these years H. J. Pertzborn Plumbing and Heating expanded into commercial and industrial projects, plumbing such projects as Graber (Springs) in Middleton and many local schools and residential subdivisions.
As Madison and the surrounding community grew, so did the company. James E. Pertzborn focused on developing strong service, commercial and residential divisions. In 1964, Robert J. Pertzborn, James oldest child, began to work in the business after school and during the summer. After discharge from the military in 1969, Robert began his apprenticeship.
Jim led the company into the 1980's, and then decided to retire. In the family tradition, a qualified candidate was already waiting in the wings and Robert became president in 1989.
During these years, the company continued to grow with the help of longtime and loyal employees. To meet the growth, the company moved in 1990 to 802 John Nolen Drive, their present location. In 1993 the company added fire protection services and changed its corporate name to H. J. Pertzborn Plumbing and Fire Protection Corporation.
Beyond the Pertzborn family, many dedicated and loyal employees have worked in the company’s service plumbing, contract plumbing and fire protection divisions and helped to create the dynamic, service-oriented organization HJP is today.