JOHNSTOWN – There is no doubt about it.
William Gerlach, a graduate of Johnstown High School, knew he wanted to go into business with his father since he was about 6 years old. Her father, Gregg Gerlach, owns Gerlach & Son Contracting and works on home building projects throughout the Johnstown, Gloversville and Broadalbin area.
William Gerlach followed projects from an early age, at first just by watching and learning.
“When I was about eight, he started letting me work,” Gerlach said.
Since finishing school earlier this month, he has started working full-time with his father and will become a partner in the business this summer.
“We are technically partners right now, but once I graduate it will become official,” Gerlach said.
At Johnstown High School, he took all the technology classes he could, taught by Ronald Savoie. He also played on the varsity golf team and was a member of the National Honor Society. According to Gerlach, his cumulative grade point average places him 11th in the class.
In his senior year, he opted for early release, taking a few morning classes so he could be out at 11 a.m. and spend the rest of the day working with his father.
Over the years, they’ve done everything from building porches and replacing siding to building entire homes and additions.
“We built a house in Broadalbin and then we built another house behind Udderly Delicious,” Gerlach said when asked about some of his favorite projects.
One client, Ann Reffue, was particularly impressed with Gerlach, who worked on several projects at her home.
“You have to see this kid working to appreciate what he does,” Reffue said. “It’s such a pleasure. I have never met a young man like that.
Reffue noted that she was a teacher for 42 years and worked in social services for a decade. She lives in an older house and has hired the Gerlachs to rebuild the steps, clear out the back hall of the house, and renovate the patio.
“He really knows his stuff,” Reffue said. “He has a vast knowledge of carpentry and building. He could build you a house tomorrow.
“After working with children all my life, I’ve seen so much negativity and seen so many people look down on children, someone really needs to let the world know that young people are okay,” said Refuse.
Sometimes going into a business as a family can put a strain on relationships, but Gerlach said he and his father get along well.
“If we work together we get along well, but on the golf course it’s a different story,” Gerlach said.
They are both quite competitive, although Gerlach admits his father is the better golfer.
“I will give it to my father. He usually beats me by three punches,” Gerlach said.
After graduating this weekend, they will have a season of golf ahead of them at Hales Mills Country Club in Johnstown, as well as plenty of projects to work on.
“I know we have a lot of porches to do,” Gerlach said.
They work on construction projects all year round and in winter Gerlach also plows.
“My favorite thing to do is in the winter, I have a plow on my truck,” Gerlach said. “I’m driving down the road in a two foot big snowstorm, everyone’s flagging me down.”
With his dedicated work ethic and attitude, Reffue feels Gerlach is a bright spot.
“There are so many negative things; he is a light in the darkness,” Reffue said.
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