Class of 2022: Johnstown senior Gerlach joins father’s construction business

Johnstown High School senior William Gerlach, 17, outside his parents home with his tool belt in Johnstown on June 14.

Johnstown High School senior William Gerlach, 17, outside his parents home with his tool belt in Johnstown on June 14.

JOHNSTOWN – There’s been no question about it.

William Gerlach, a Johnstown High School graduating senior, has known that he wanted to go into business with his father since he was about 6 years old. His father, Gregg Gerlach, owns Gerlach & Son Contracting and works on home construction projects all over the Johnstown, Gloversville and Broadalbin area.

William Gerlach has been tagging along on projects from a young age, at first just watching and learning.

“When I turned about eight years old he started letting me actually work,” Gerlach said.

Since school let out earlier this month, he’s started working with his father full time and will become a partner in the business this summer.

“We’re technically partners right now, but once I graduate, it’ll become official,” Gerlach said.

While at Johnstown High School, he took all the technology classes he could, taught by Ronald Savoie. He also played on the varsity golf team and was in the National Honor Society. According to Gerlach, his grade point average put him 11th in the class.

During his senior year, he opted for early release, taking a few classes in the morning so that he could get out by 11 a.m. and spend the rest of the day working with his father.

Over the years, they’ve done everything from building porches, to replacing siding to building entire homes and additions.

“We’ve built a house in Broadalbin and then we built another house behind Udderly Delicious,” Gerlach said when asked what some of his favorite projects have been.

One customer, Ann Reffue, was particularly impressed with Gerlach, who has worked on several projects in her home.

“You have to see this kid work to appreciate what he does,” Reffue said. “He’s such a pleasure. I never have met a young man like this.”

Reffue noted that she was a teacher for 42 years and worked in human services for a decade. She lives in an older home and hired the Gerlachs to rebuild steps, gut the home’s back hall and renovate the deck.

“He really knows his stuff,” Reffue said. “He has a vast knowledge of carpentry and building. He could build you a house tomorrow.”

“After working with kids my entire life, I’ve seen so much negativity and I’ve seen so many people down on kids, somebody really needs to let the world know that young people are okay,” Reffue said.

Sometimes, going into a business as a family can put a strain on relationships but Gerlach said he and his father get along well.

“If we’re working together we get along fine but on the golf course, different story,” Gerlach said.

They’re both fairly competitive, though Gerlach admits that his father is the better golfer.

“I’ll give it to my dad. He usually beats me by three shots,” Gerlach said.

After graduation this weekend, they’ll have a season of golf at Johnstown’s Hales Mills Country Club ahead of them, as well as plenty of projects to work on.

“I know we’ve got a lot of porches to do,” Gerlach said.

They work on construction projects year-round and in the winter, Gerlach also plows.

“My favorite thing to do is in the wintertime, I have a plow on my truck,” Gerlach said. “I drive down the road in a big two-foot snowstorm, everybody’s flagging me down.”

With his dedicated work ethic and attitude, Reffue feels like Gerlach is a bright spot.

“There so much negatively; he’s a light in the darkness,” Reffue said.

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