• 1887

    Sailing to the Promised Land

    In 1887, at the age of 15, our founder, John Theodore Megalokonomos, left his home on the island of Kythera, Greece to seek his fortune. He sailed the Aegean and Mediterranean for three years, working his way up from cabin boy to merchant seaman. He worked closely with the other crew members and developed interpersonal skills and perspectives he would later need to organize and operate a business.

    Eventually his passion to succeed led him to the “promised land” of America. Arriving at Ellis Island in 1890, immigration officials unfamiliar with the Greek alphabet translated “Megalokonomos’’ to “Conomos.’’

    John’s entrepreneurial enthusiasm was recognized by William Manos, a family friend with business and financial experience. William saw that his experience combined with John’s practical skills provided the chemistry for a business that would paint complex structures. Thus, in 1898, the 125-year-old Conomos painting tradition began.

  • 1889

    Sponge Diving

    In 1899, John traveled back to Kythera to marry his sweetheart, Diamantoula. Their first child, Marica, was born in Greece and arrived in America as an infant. Shortly thereafter, in 1903, William Basil Conomos, the future architect and developer of the business, was born.

    William entered the world at a particularly difficult time. An economic depression was sweeping the world and the Conomos/Manos partnership was struggling to survive. In 1905, to keep afloat, John left Manos in charge and moved the family south for winter employment in sponge diving. He hired a small sailboat in New York, loaded up the family, and sailed around the Florida peninsula to the Greek settlement of Tarpon Springs, Florida. Two-year old William spent most of the trip strapped to the sailboat’s mast during the sometimes treacherous journey.

    Work in the sponge diving business was inconsistent and soon the Conomos’ were back in Pittsburgh. Fortunately, the painting business began to recover, and during the next 15 years, the company prospered.

  • 1920

    A Long-Term Partnership

    In 1920, William Manos retired, and John became the sole proprietor. John T. Conomos’ business career reached its acme during the roaring twenties (1920-1929).

    The business and family prospered while William graduated from Pitt with honors and went to work as an auditor for the Rankin, PA based steel construction company, McClintock Marshall. William, now known as Bill by most friends, established valuable contacts at McClintock Marshall, and when Bethlehem Steel bought the company, it led to a long-standing relationship between Conomos and Bethlehem Steel that lasted more than 60 years.

  • 1929

    Surviving the Depression

    The 1929 economic crash and ensuing Depression presented the company with its next major crisis. Jobs were scarce, prices very low, and financing nearly impossible. Bill saw that if the company were to survive, he must leave McClintock Marshall and join his father to save the business. The company’s only job at that time was the new “Huey P. Long” Bridge spanning the Mississippi River in New Orleans. The price was desperately low and only with the closest supervision of John and William could they hope to make any money.

    Thus, in 1933, the family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, to supervise the job. It was “touch and go” from the beginning, with cash flow barely covering the expenses. At one point, Bill’s sister, Marica, lent the company $400 to cover payroll (literally saving the company from bankruptcy – wages were 35 cents per hour at that time.)

    Fortunately, the outlook brightened, and Bill’s personal fortunes improved. A young Greek American girl, Ponny Bon, caught his eye, and he was smitten. They married in the spring of 1935 and with the New Orleans complete, the family moved back to Pittsburgh.

  • 1935

    Unexpected Leadership Change

    In the Fall of 1935, at age 63, John T. Conomos unexpectedly passed away. He was a victim of improper medical diagnosis, and his heart was weakened from Bromo Quinine—an often-prescribed drug that is now banned. The family was devastated, and Bill began his tenure of nearly 50 years as head of the family business.

  • 1940

    Supporting the War Effort

    In 1940, John B. Conomos was born. Bill built the family homestead in rural Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania and spent the war years performing defense-related work. Dravo’s Neville Island plant built landing craft for the war effort, and Conomos painted many of these troop carriers. Additional work included munitions factories and other war-related plants.

    The post-war years offered great economic opportunity, and Bill realized that Conomos Painting Company’s operations needed to be expanded, and formal organization and business facilities would be required. More importantly, he needed more managerial help.

    George S. Venturatos, Bill’s sister-in-law Dita’s husband, joined the firm. George’s strength lay in his leadership and productivity skills. An ex-Army tank captain, George’s youth and enthusiasm blended well with Bill’s experience and business skills. Together they forged an organization that grew quickly.

  • 1950

    Post-War Prosperity

    In the prosperous 1950s, an office and clerical staff were established at 2812 West Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh. George N. Aspiotes added professional engineering, and Paul C. Bon added his project management skills. Soon, Conomos Painting Company emerged as a nationally recognized contractor known for its quality, service, and ability to handle major projects.

    Bethlehem Steel, the company’s major customer, chose Conomos to provide the painting for its new Burns Harbor plant, and Minnesota Mining Company hired Conomos for its massive new Taconite facilities in Minnesota. These major projects, combined with bridge painting projects, such as the Greater New Orleans Bridge, Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Walt Whitman Bridge, Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne Bridges in Pittsburgh, and extensive plant maintenance painting projects, added the growth Bill Conomos envisioned. Offices were opened in Baltimore, Maryland; Buffalo, New York; and Chesterton, Indiana.

  • 1962

    Growth & Diversification

    In 1962, John B. Conomos graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University). After a short stint in the Army, he joined the firm and immediately immersed himself in the family business.

    John’s arrival and eventual 13 years as a Conomos Painting employee came at a fortuitous time. George Venturatos had left the business to pursue other interests in his native New Orleans. Likewise, George Aspiotes left for similar reasons. John had to quickly take on major responsibilities, but with his dad and his Uncle Paul’s help, he was able to help fill the gaps left behind.

    Bill was concerned that the company lacked project diversity. Eighty percent of the company’s business was with two customers, Bethlehem Steel Company and United States Steel, and he reasoned that the loss of either customer would be catastrophic. He was also eager to develop a

    succession plan to provide John with equity in the business and provide a legacy for his other children.

    The solution was elegant and effective. A new company, John B. Conomos, Inc., was established. This firm was owned by John and his two sisters, Joan Lamprinakos and Theodora Kladakis, with John as President, a position he held for 35 years.

  • 1967

    Core Values & Innovation

    In 1967, John had married Janet Karakitsos. The Conomos family grew rapidly, and daughters, Ponny, Tessie and Ali, provided extra incentive for John to succeed.

    John’s vision for the newly diversified firm—which formally identified John B. Conomos, Inc.’s core values of Quality, Safety, and Integrity—was to establish a broad-based management team that would lead the company into the next millennium, supported by innovative technologies and improved technical competence. This marked the beginning of significant development and growth for the company.

  • 1973

    A New Home

    In 1973, the company’s offices and warehouse facilities relocated to Bridgeville, Pennsylvania. By 1980, a new office complex was constructed, and the warehouse modernized. In 1981, the company was reorganized into a holding company, Conomos Management, Inc., and three divisions: John B. Conomos, Inc.; Gulf Con Industrial Painting, Inc.; and Hydro Vac Services, Inc.

    New ventures were tried. Gulf Con Industrial Painting, Inc., a merit shop operation, succeeded in the Gulf Coast area. Peter J. Karakitsos, its president, and John’s father-in-law, developed accounts with DuPont and similar petrochemical companies.

  • 1986

    Strong Leadership Delivers Success

    In 1986, an additional office was opened in Philadelphia, PA, under the name of the Myers and Watters Company. Staff and management expansion between 1980 and 2000 further developed the management and field teams John had envisioned.

    As John himself has stated: “You don’t have a business if you don’t have good employees. You’re only as strong as your weakest link, and our field personnel and management are absolutely topnotch.” As a result of the following (and many other) hard-working employees’ collaborative efforts, John B. Conomos, Inc. achieved the prestigious distinction of becoming a SSPC Certified Contractor QP1 (complex structures) and QP2 (hazardous materials abatement).

  • 1990

    Success in New Markets

    Sales diversity continued to flourish into the 1990’s. Conomos services expanded to include fireproofing, roofing, sheeting, general industrial maintenance, and lead/asbestos abatement. JBC, Inc. was no longer just a painting contractor but a broad-based construction services contractor.

  • 1998

    Celebrating the First Century

    In 1998, The Conomos Companies celebrated 100 years in business—an honor experienced by few companies—and a year later, John B. Conomos, Inc. received the Western Pennsylvania Family Business of the Year Award from the Katz School of Business Family Enterprise Center.

  • 2001

    A Fourth Generation Leads the Way

    Continuing the family tradition, John’s son in-law Chris Kucherawy, joined JBC, Inc. in 2001 as the company’s first Marketing Director—marking the beginning of the 4th generation of Conomos Family employees.

    In 2003, John Conomos was named Chairman and CEO of the Conomos Companies. Jim King moved from Company Controller to President, serving in that capacity until his eventual retirement in 2017. Jim remained as a consultant until 2020, completing 40 years of service. During Jim’s tenure, an agreement with All-State Painting Company’s owner Dan Harbison was reached where Conomos acquired significant assets and valuable access to new markets expanding their market diversity.

  • 2017

    Continuing the Family Tradition

    Upon Jim’s retirement in 2017, Chris Kucherawy took the reins as Company President—only the 5th in 125 years of business. Chris, actively involved in Operations and Strategic Planning for 16 years, had also been heavily involved in the All-State acquisition. His strong support of the Conomos core values greatly influence his vision, along with his philosophy that strategic focus on organizational and operational efficiencies are key to ultimate success.

    Chris’ wife and John’s daughter, Tessie Conomos Kucherawy, joined the company in January of 2019, becoming the Company’s first female Director of Human Resources, Organization and Customer Development.