History of Ben Washington & Sons

History of Ben Washington

Benjamin T. Washington was born in Burdette, Arkansas, June 15, 1924 and attended the public schools of his native home, graduating from Burdette Junior High prior to coming to Detroit, where he established residency 1941.  After working at several jobs in Detroit, Mr. Washington went to work for Ford Motor Company in 1946.  In 1957 he decided he wanted to become a plumber and went to work for Frank Griffin a Master Plumber.  During the same year he went into the sewer cleaning business.  He became a Journeyman Plumber in 1964, and enlarged his business to include excavating.

In March of 1966, Mr. Washington became a Master Plumber.  This called for increasing his firm’s activities to include plumbing.  When he received his heating license in 1970, Ben Washington & Sons offered the following services: Sewer Cleaning, Excavating, Plumbing, Sheet Metal Work and Heating.  In April of 1971 BWS was incorporated and became Ben Washington & Sons, Inc.  As a result of his progressive enterprise, his establishment had been responsible for training 45 apprentices by this time.

Moreover, Mr. Washington rendered outstanding service as a churchman, joining the New Bethel Baptist Church in 1951.  He was a member of the Board of Trustees and Chairman of the Church Broadcast Committee. He later became an ordained minister at the Greater Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. J.D. Montgomery.  In addition to his church activities he was active in the community and fraternal affairs, and was a member of Peter Salem No. 40, Prince Hall Masons, Heart of Detroit Lodge of the I.B.P.O. of Elks of the World, N.A.A.C.P., S.C.L.C., Operation Push, and the Greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce.  On September 30, 1972 Mr. Washington was honored at a banquet for his outstanding work as a businessman and a church layman, where he received a Resolution of Tribute from the State of Michigan Senate.

Benjamin T. Washington passed on September 27, 1999.  He remained active in the company right up until the end.  Over the years his wife Lena ran the office and attended to all basic day to day needs, including the accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, etc.  To this day Mrs. Washington is still actively involved in the company on a semi-retired basis.  Brought up and raised only blocks from the shop, Mr. Washington’s three sons Benjamin Jr., Isaac and Everett worked by their father’s side learning the trade; all three eventually becoming Journeyman.  His daughter Barbara assisted in the office for a period of time as a secretary.  Isaac went on to obtain his Bachelors in Business Administration from Eastern Michigan University in 1976, his Mechanical Contractor License in the late 1980’s and was issued his Master Plumber License by the State Plumbing Board in 2001 after passing his examination; thus following in the footsteps of his beloved father, the late Reverend Benjamin T. Washington.

Ben Washington & Sons Plumbing & Heating, Inc. maintains its rich family history with its third generation.  Isaac is the company President, while his daughter Lakiah assists the front office staff on a part-time basis; currently in pursuit of her master’s degree.  Ben Jr. has since passed, however his legacy lives on through his son Benjamin III who is a Journeyman, and his daughter Iris who has worked at the office in the past.  Barbara’s daughter Rashida also interns at the office while home from school.  Everett’s son Christopher is still a little too young only being in grade school, however there is still hope for yet another Washington.

Today BWS continues to maintain high quality standards by utilizing union plumbers and pipe fitters from Local 98 and Local 636 in the Metro Detroit Area.  


Some recent or noteworthy projects Ben Washington & Sons has been involved with:

  • Multitude of Detroit Public Schools from new buildings to renovations, additions, etc.
  • Chene Park Amphitheatre – Detroit, MI
  • Patton Park Recreational Center – Detroit, MI
  • Cobo Hall – Detroit, MI
  • Charles Wright Museum of African American History – Detroit, MI
  • Detroit Historical Museum – Detroit, MI
  • Heilman Recreation Center – Detroit, MI
  • Bing Steel Slitter Facility – Detroit, MI
  • AAA Administrative Claim Center – Southfield, MI
  • Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church – Detroit, MI
  • St. Anne’s Cooperative Housing Project – Detroit, MI
  • Comerica Bank – Rochester, MI
  • Children’s Hospital – Detroit, MI
  • Knudsen Elementary School – Waterford, MI
  • DMC Sinai Grace Hospital Professional Office Building – Detroit, MI
  • Detroit Department of Transportation Shoemaker Terminal – Detroit, MI

Article by Ed Quinn (Associate member of Detroit ASHRAE chapter, Project Engineer for BWS)

Ben Washington’s first truck – picture taken November 6, 1958