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Lagina Plumbing open despite closure notice

Despite a letter announcing that Lagina Plumbing Inc. is shut down, owner Jim Lagina said the company continues to function. (Photo by John Krejci)

Despite a letter announcing that Lagina Plumbing Inc. is shut down, owner Jim Lagina said the company continues to function. (Photo by John Krejci)

By Sean Ryan

A letter circulating through the plumbing industry is incorrect in its announcement that Lagina Plumbing Inc. is shut down, according to company owner Jim Lagina, whose name is at the bottom of the letter.

According to the letter, the company closed Feb. 16.

“I understand that it got out to the marketplace a day ago,” Lagina said. “It was faxed from the Plumbers Local 75 office. It was a confidential document.”

According to the letter, PyraMax Bank refused to renew Lagina Plumbing’s line of credit, resulting in the company’s closure. The letter is on Lagina company letterhead and with James and Janice Lagina’s names and a set of signatures at the bottom.

Lagina would not comment on whether the letter came from his company.

“The information is not correct,” Lagina said. “Lagina Plumbing is a functioning company. We’re in a discussion with a bank and a third party.”

Lagina would not comment on the details of that discussion.

Steve Breitlow, business manager at Plumbers Local 75, said he received the letter Wednesday and sent it only to the union’s law firm, health fund administrator and pension plan office.

“Then Jim called me later that day,” Breitlow said, “and said, ‘I may have found some financing,’ and I said, ‘Great.’”

Breitlow said Friday he does not know how the letter got out, but he’s trying to track down the person who leaked it. Breitlow said he’s not happy about the leak because the letter has Local 75’s fax number at the top, making it look like he sent it.

“That’s not how we do business,” he said.

Representatives from PyraMax Bank were not available before deadline.

Lagina was an employee of Louis Schmitt Co. Inc., which was established in 1895. In 2006 he bought the company and changed its name to Lagina Plumbing.

Lagina Plumbing in November announced it would be the plumber for general contractor J.H. Findorff & Son Inc., Madison, on the $55.2 million Moderne high-rise project in downtown Milwaukee. Dan Katt, Findorff business development executive, said he received the letter about Lagina Plumbing but does not know the details of the situation.

He said Findorff has not signed a contract with Lagina for the Moderne project.

“We’re sorting through the details,” Katt said. “But we haven’t been contacted by them directly.”

The past year has been hard on plumbing contractors in Milwaukee, said Peter Lentz, executive director of the Plumbing Mechanical & Sheet Metal Contractors Alliance, of which Lagina Plumbing is a member. Lentz said he also received the letter, but Lagina remains in good standing in the association and the company is open.

“It’s in everybody’s interest to keep Lagina moving forward,” he said.

Breitlow said he’s waiting to hear from Lagina.

“Hopefully, we can keep them going and keep our guys going,” he said. “We’re looking forward to a good year, not a bad year.”

Lagina, meanwhile, said he is fielding a lot of calls about the letter.

“We’re communicating clearly to all of the parties involved that of course 2009 was a very turbulent year,” Lagina said, “and, unfortunately, information like that gets out that is not accurate.”

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