By Kate Scriven
In 1980, Ed and Laurie Moerke were a normal family, living and working in Adna, Washington. As with many people who live in rural communities, the Moerkes were always willing to lend a hand to friends and neighbors, who were happy to return the favor. However, Ed started to notice a pattern. He, like most in his community, had a private well. And, when issues arose with a well or pump, there was not a local business to call for help.
Seeing an opportunity, Ed purchased an old drilling rig and Moerke and Sons Pump and Drilling was born. The company started small, but soon enough Ed had his sons John and Luke learning the ropes and the company began to grow. From the beginning, most employees were family members or close friends. “The company has always been family, customers and community first,” shares General Manager Sean Brattain. “It was a founding principal for Ed and Laurie and it remains at the top of the priority list today.”
Moerke and Sons, located on NW State Avenue in Chehalis, now employs 13 full time staff and serves Lewis, Thurston and Pacific counties. Well drilling remains their top service but early on, the company added a pump division. “It’s just natural that we got into pumps,” shares Brattain. “When you get a well, you are going to need a pump, too.” And, as most people with wells know, if you get a well, you’ll likely need a filtrations system to go along with it. Moerke and Sons offers in-house water quality testing, guidance on selecting a filter and installation of your system.
In addition, the Moerke and Sons service and repair team can handle just about anything they encounter. Or, if you are feeling handy, their parts department stocks a wide range of fittings and supplies for water systems as well as irrigation. Their 24/7 emergency services can also be a lifesaver, getting your family’s taps flowing again no matter the day or time.
In 1999, the company lost their leader when Ed Moerke died of a sudden heart attack. While many thought the tragedy spelled the end for Moerke and Sons, Laurie knew she had to keep the company going to continue Ed’s legacy. While it wasn’t always easy, the tight-knit team put their heads down and over the years, grew the company to the large operation it is today.
Sean Brattain wasn’t always part of the company, but he has always known the Moerke family. Prior to joining the company in 2003 he worked at Les Schwab where he was on track to become a manager in the large corporation. “They asked me to join [Moerke and Sons] and it was really a risk, moving from the stability of a big corporation to a smaller, locally owned business,” Brattain admits.
However, the chance to work a more flexible schedule with a company that valued his role as a father, not just as an employee, was too hard to pass up. “Working here has given me the opportunity to be with my kids more. I can coach their teams and be home for dinner. That means a lot to me and to the company, too,” he explains.
In 2013, Brattain took over the role of general manager and despite the added responsibilities, he feels honored to be in a role Ed pioneered years ago. While he admits he can be a perfectionist, he sees his job as part manager and part teacher. “I really try and help my guys learn from their mistakes and try to help them become better at their job through guiding them and teaching them what I know from when I was in their shoes,” he says.
The Moerke and Sons family feel extends beyond the walls of their bright, spacious office. Their presence throughout the Lewis County community is well known and highly valued. “We really try to give back to the community as much as possible,” shares Brattain. The Moerke and Sons banner is a common sight at local high school sporting events and many employees serve as coaches or have children on the teams.
During county fair season, Brattain’s office is overflowing with 4-H projects that local kids have come in to present, a requirement for sponsorship from the company. “We want to see the hard work the kids have done and want them to present what they’ve learned,” shares Brattain. Moerke and Sons has also sponsored the Pe Ell School Robotics Club as well as donating 200 feet of a new well for the Mossyrock Fire Department.
Although 35 years has passed and a lot has changed since Ed Moerke purchased his first drilling rig and drilled his first well, one thing has remained the same: Moerke and Sons commitment to a family-first atmosphere where providing outstanding services and community support is just business as usual.
1162 NW State Avenue, Chehalis