The roots of the company go back to World War I, when Luppe B. Luppen and John B. Hawley, a pair of Midwesterners, decided to start a business together. They were graduates of the University of Illinois School of Architecture and worked together as engineers for the Division of Architecture of the State of California.
In 1920, the two went into business as mechanical contractors, continuing in the same field of construction work they'd been supervising for the state. Mechanical contracting involved plumbing, piping, steam heating, forced air heating, and air conditioning. The firm has the distinction of being one of the oldest Carrier air conditioning dealers in the country.
Luppen and Hawley's original office was located on 906 7th St., right across the street from the Sacramento Bee. It was a small commercial office on the ground floor of an apartment building. Five years later, in 1925, they moved to larger quarters near Alhambra Boulevard and J Street, where their business flourished for the next 47 years. They were right next door to the glamorous Alhambra Theatre, an air conditioned mecca for movie goers. Movie theaters were among the pioneer institutions to provide air conditioning as an essential draw for their customers. An hour or two in the coolness may have inspired many viewers to become Luppen and Hawley customers.
After the move to the Alhambra and J Street location, the company also entered the field of electrical contracting. As part of this new aspect of the business, the partners hired J. D. O'Connor, the future owner of the company. Mr. O'Connor headed the electrical department, and in 1933, became part owner of the company. After Mr. Luppen's retirement, the remaining partners were Mr. A. V. Taylor and Mr. J. B. Hawley. Mr. Hawley went on to become the president of the Master Plumbers of America and Mr. O'Connor served as Western States Vice President of the National Electrical Contractors Association.
Through the years, Luppen and Hawley, Inc., has continued to perform a variety of services, offering whatever their customers needed in mechanical and electrical services. One job that stands out is the Campbell's Soup Plant. In 1947, the company was selected to install all the plumbing, mechanical and electrical work on the new plant being built at their present site on Franklin Boulevard in Sacramento. The work required over 200 trades people, involving plumbers, pipefitters, and electricians. The work was completed in approximately 18 months and at that time was the largest industrial plant built in the Sacramento Valley.
In 1954, Mr. O'Connor became the sole owner of the business but kept the Luppen and Hawley, Inc., name due to its excellent reputation. In time, Mr. O'Connor was joined by his three sons Delbert, Laurence, and Kenneth, who succeeded him in continuing the business. In 1972, the company moved to its present 5 acre site at 7400 14th. Avenue.
The business employs a combination of old fashioned skill and new technology, using computerized equipment for a range of specialized tasks from the manufacturing of sheet metal ducts to pricing and job estimates. The O'Connors credit their long term success of the company to their many loyal office staff employees and a skilled union trained work force. Recently, the company celebrated the retirement of four people who each worked over 40 years with the company.
In the years since 1920, Luppen and Hawley, Inc., has grown with Sacramento while it has helped Sacramento grow. A third generation of O'Connors is now working in the company. The family traditions of quality and service are going strong as the company grows toward its own centennial in 2020.