A Mission of Service
America’s military heroes serve on the front lines of safety at Monadnock Sprinkler Company
Ryan Fleming’s mission in life is to protect and serve. A mere decade ago, the Massachusetts native was serving on the front lines of combat in Afghanistan as a soldier in the Army National Guard. The former sergeant and twice-awarded Purple Heart recipient is now on the front lines of fire safety as the Owner and President of Monadnock Sprinkler Company.
The certified service-disabled veteran-owned small business is based in Mason, a small town located in the Monadnock region of New Hampshire. The firm offers a variety of fire protection solutions for residential, commercial and industrial spaces across southern New Hampshire as well as north and central Massachusetts. Service offerings include installing, upgrading, maintaining and repairing various types of wet and dry fire protection systems such as fire sprinklers and fire suppression systems. Annual testing and inspection services and 24/7 emergency service are also provided.
Fleming adds, “We specialize in working in high-end businesses, altering systems during home repairs, making flutes that cost upward of $10,000 each, chemical labs, etc. We are adept at meeting the unique needs of each customer, which includes developing proper property protection and safety measures and scheduling work times that allow businesses to remain operational during jobs.”
Working in a field that protects both people and property is a calling that requires multitalented craft professionals who are dedicated to safety, he notes further.
“Our team is committed to our profession and our customers,” Fleming adds. “All of our employees take pride in what they do and go the extra mile to hone their skills and ensure projects are completed properly and with care.”
Building a great team starts with forming relationships based on trust, loyalty and even friendship. For Fleming, friendship provided the framework that led him to open his business.
Comrades in Construction
Fleming launched Monadnock Sprinkler Company in August 2019 with the moral support and technical expertise of his close friend and colleague, John Murphy Sr., a licensed journeyman sprinkler fitter. Murphy Sr.’s role as a Project Manager at the company is buoyed by nearly three decades of industry expertise and vast professional experience with all types of complex work and large-scale projects, including the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and other noteworthy jobs.
The pair met through a mutual friend and instantly clicked, their strong work ethics and family-oriented personalities creating a common bond. At the time, Fleming—a master carpenter who grew up learning the trades from his father—ran a small residential remodeling firm and Murphy Sr. owned a successful fire protection business.
Their encounter took place shortly after Fleming, who joined the military at 21 years old, was medically discharged after serving his country for eight years. He was forced into retirement after being seriously injured in back-to-back missions during a 10-month deployment to Afghanistan, where he served with the 1-181st Infantry Regiment, one of the oldest units in the U.S. Army. These active combat events left him with a traumatic brain injury, compressed disks, bone fractures, hearing and vision loss, nerve damage and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The physical, mental and emotional struggles of transitioning back to civilian life weighed heavily on him, often making him feel isolated and out of place. But when he met Murphy Sr., an outgoing guy with a knack for drawing people out of their shells, he found the understanding and acceptance that his damaged spirit craved. The two easily formed a friendship and eventually began partnering together on occasional projects.
Now, as comrades in the construction trades, the dynamic duo works together exceptionally well, says Murphy Sr. He adds, “We’ve learned a lot from each other, both professionally and personally. We’re lucky to have this friendship and to get to work together and understand one another.”
Accolades & Future Goals
Monadnock Sprinkler Company may be a young firm, but it already has a nicely stocked portfolio of well-known clients and noteworthy projects. “Within our first four months of business, we landed a major contract with Edgewater Construction, Inc. to participate in a 40,000-square-foot renovation project,” Fleming shares as one example. The general contractor based in Rindge, New Hampshire, was tasked with transforming a historic 1800s-era manufacturing facility in Leominster, Massachusetts, into a modern 36-unit apartment complex dubbed Toy Factory Apartments.
Monadnock Sprinkler Company spent six-and-a-half months on the challenging project, during which time crews converted the facility’s existing dry sprinkler system into a wet system. “We did not have to rip out the old system, but instead were able to alter it and bring it up to satisfactory standards, which saved Edgewater Construction a lot of money,” he adds.
Phoenix Park, an iconic state-of-the-art business center in central Massachusetts managed by The Lexvest Group, LLC, is another memorable project. Murphy Sr.’s earlier years of fire protection service at the 300,000-square-foot location proved useful in devising a streamlined plan to replace an outdated fire sprinkler system.
“We were tasked with replacing over 2,500 fire sprinkler heads as well as approximately 1,800 existing 3/4-inch branch lines, which were not up to code, with new 1-inch pipe,” Murphy Sr. states. “It’s an expensive job,” Fleming adds, “but John worked with the owner and property manager to come up with a long-term plan to update the building and eliminate millions of dollars in upfront costs. This strategy also allows the facility to remain operational while the fire protection systems are being updated.”
Looking to the future, the company plans to expand its workforce to fulfill even more project needs. A recent hire, Project Manager John Santoro, brings 20 years of journeyman sprinkler fitter experience to the staff.
Fleming adds, “We also intend to grow our services department to offer fire extinguisher and testing services, and would like to eventually start prefabricating fire protection systems.”
“One of our main goals is to train and mentor individuals to become qualified professionals in the fire protection industry.” Ryan Fleming, Owner and President, Monadnock Sprinkler Company
War for Talent
Since the company’s inception, Fleming and Murphy Sr. have been dedicated to filling the talent pipeline with skilled, high-performing tradespersons who are passionate about making careers in this field.
“One of our main goals is to train and mentor individuals to become qualified professionals in the fire protection industry,” Fleming says. He notes that these engaging, in-demand positions offer excellent pay as well as intrinsic fulfillment. “We’re building systems that save lives,” Murphy Sr. adds. “It all kind of goes hand in hand.”
The overarching mission of Monadnock Sprinkler Company is to serve others—including the courageous, self-sacrificing individuals who answer the call to protect American freedom. For this reason, the company seeks to put active military service members and veterans to work.
A case in point is former employee Robert “Bobby” Batchelder, a lifelong friend of Fleming’s and also a fellow veteran. “I served with Bobby and was deployed with him,” Fleming explains. “He recently decided to go to school full-time to become a fire protection engineer, but plans to return to our company in the near future.”
Because many seasoned craft professionals are aging out of the workforce, the competition for qualified individuals to replace them is fierce. Strategy is key in this “war for talent,” which is why Monadnock Sprinkler Company offers attractive apprenticeship opportunities to support recruiting and retention efforts.
Currently, the company has two apprentices: Kaleb Naticchioni, the son of a military service member, and John Murphy Jr., who is Murphy Sr.’s son. Both are highly motivated individuals who say they appreciate the valuable experiences—and hard-earned paychecks—they receive while completing on-the-job and classroom training. They also enjoy the ability to work alongside experienced professionals on real-world projects.
Deep Wounds are Slow to Heal
In addition to filling the talent pipeline, actively recruiting veterans also seems like an excellent strategy to curtail national unemployment rates. Recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveals that over half a million veterans were without jobs in 2020—a shocking fact considering many of these brave American heroes have inherent leadership qualities and are highly disciplined, team-oriented, great problem solvers and work well under pressure.
According to Fleming, these unemployment rates are impacted by the visible and invisible wounds of war. A warrior’s “battle scars” may range from disabling and disfiguring injuries to psychological trauma that is a catalyst for depression, anxiety, substance abuse and even suicide. Oftentimes these individuals suffer in silence and are reluctant to seek help due to the stigma of having such conditions, which can impede their transition to civilian occupations after separating from the military.
Fleming understands these feelings all too well. While his personal transition back to “normal life” has not been easy, he says the unwavering support of his family is a powerful motivator to keep moving forward. “My family inspires me to stay strong,” he affirms. “I would not be where I am today without my wife, Ryan Marie, and our four children—Natalie (14), Haley (13), Riley (9) and Carver (3).”
Rallying to Help Veterans
Sergeant First Class James Huff, whose military career includes service during the Cold War and Operation New Dawn (originally known as Operation Iraqi Freedom), was also instrumental during Fleming’s critical period of adjustment.
“He was the readiness NCO (noncommissioned officer) in my unit when I came home from my deployment and became a personal mentor to me,” Fleming shares. “Having the ability to check in with someone who is like-minded helped to streamline my personal recovery and gave me hope. He’s retired now, but we still chat almost daily.”
Today, Fleming is a champion of veteran-focused peer support, recovery and mediation. His efforts over the years have included volunteer work to help veteran-owned companies develop effective business plans. Also, he is a founding member of Clear Path for Veterans New England, where he helped to create and implement a peer support program.
Since 2017, he has led a local peer support group called Warrior Talking Circle, which improves the interconnection between veterans by providing a safe, nonjudgmental forum to listen and learn as members express their thoughts and feelings.
His company also utilizes PsychArmor, an organization with a mission to bridge the civilian-military gap through education. A variety of free online resources are available at www.psycharmor.org to help people from all backgrounds better understand military culture.
As someone who strives to put the needs of others ahead of his own, Fleming notes that his business objectives are not geared toward personal fulfillment. Rather, he seeks to lead a company that betters the fire protection industry and the community as a whole. “This isn’t about how successful I can become; it’s about helping other people become successful,” he confirms.
His vision includes maintaining a supportive and inclusive workplace culture that is understanding of anyone who may be at a disadvantage, including veterans.
“I think what drives a lot of service members is the opportunity to serve something other than yourself, something bigger and greater,” he says. “Fire protection is a very technical and challenging trade that is continuously evolving. It is also a trade that is intended to save lives, which is why I believe veterans are a perfect fit for this industry.”