BACK IN THE '70s, when the B. Pietrini & Sons concrete-construction company acquired one of the first concrete pumps in the industry, they had a problem.
They couldn't find anyone who could operate it properly. So the job fell to Butch Pietrini, one of the "sons" in the company's name. He not only learned to operate the pump, which was a recent innovation in the concrete-construction field, but to fix it as well.
"He would pump concrete during the day and pretty much fix the pump at night," said his brother Francis A. Pietrini. "He became very proficient in this line of work and soon worked with pump manufacturers to make pumps more reliable and user-friendly."
Bernard J. Pietrini, a man of many interests outside of his business, ranging from competitive drag racing to racing his own thoroughbred horses at tracks around the country, died Friday after a long battle with cancer. He was 62 and lived in Villanova.
In 1982, B. Pietrini formed King of Prussia Equipment Corp., with Butch as president. The company rents and sells all types of equipment relating to the concrete-construction industry.
The concrete pump today is an integral part of the construction business. The Pietrini brothers and their late father, also Bernard, were pioneers in its use.
This innovation was brought about partly as the result of the rudeness of the operator of a rental company in New Jersey.
The Pietrinis had rented a concrete pump from the Jersey firm, which proceeded to give the partners endless grief about it.
"We said, 'This guy needs competition,' " Fran said.
And competition he got, as the brothers bought their own pump, then more pumps, ultimately becoming one of the region's most successful businesses in the concrete pumping and rental field. And the Jersey guy, who was seriously deficient in customer relations, faded away.
The company got a boost in the pumping business when the Schwing Concrete Pump Co., one of the premier pump companies in the world, awarded B. Pietrini & Sons a distributorship to sell and maintain concrete pumps in a three-state territory: Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
In the early years, the use of concrete pumps gave B. Pietrini & Sons a great advantage over other contractors. But the competition soon caught on and now all major contractors use the device.
Butch Pietrini was born in Bryn Mawr to Bernard Pietrini and the former Irene Norcini. He graduated from Cardinal O'Hara High School and the Community College of Montgomery County.
Butch started with the family business in 1968 as a laborer. He soon worked his way up to a supervisory position. At his death, he was president of King of Prussia Equipment and vice president of B. Pietrini & Sons.
In the '70s, Butch and a friend, Bob Wright, built a 450-horsepower Chevy Vega race car that they took to various tracks, with Butch as the driver.
They specialized in "bracket racing," in which each driver selects the time he thinks it will take him to finish a quarter-mile course. This is called a "dial-in-time." If he goes faster than the dial-in, he is disqualified.
What this requires of the driver, of course, is consistency of performance and skills in reaction time, shifting abilities and ability to control the car. Butch won many races and had the trophies to prove it.
Later, his restless mind turned to horse racing and he began to purchase thoroughbreds. At one time, he had 12, stabled at tracks around the country.
"It was something he really enjoyed," his brother said. "He really got into it."
In 1986, Butch and Fran purchased the Center Square Golf Club, in Montgomery County. Butch learned to play golf and liked to compete against his brother and father. Although he was never tempted to turn pro, he became a reasonably proficient golfer. Butch was a member of the board of the American Concrete Pumping Association, and received its Pioneer Award in 2006.
He also is survived by his wife, the former Terry F. Clark; two stepsons, Richard and Jamison J. Fazzi; and another brother, Andrew G. Pietrini.
By JOHN F. MORRISON Philadelphia Daily News