Harold J. Brooks, the Lawrence-born plumber who went on to become a renowned commercial real estate developer/owner/manager, humanitarian and philanthropist, was a “self-made man” whose formal education never went beyond high school. Brooks was raised by his hard-working mother and other family members who inspired his work ethic.
Under the photo in his Lawrence High School yearbook, Brooks listed “Ambition – plumber.” Brooks established Brooks Plumbing and Heating in 1968 with $115 and a pickup truck, working alone for the first six months. When he retired from plumbing in the early 1980’s he had over 100 master plumbers and apprentices on his payroll.
The transition to commercial real estate development came in the early 1970s, when he bought a piece of land in the Lawrence Industrial Park to build an office and warehouse for his plumbing business; still owned by Brooks today.
His amazing foresight complimented his genius in mathematics and finance. This, along with an unrelenting persistence and unique negotiation skills aided in the continued growth of his commercial real estate company becoming one of the most successful family owned businesses in the state.
Brooks took pride in his loyalty to his employees and theirs to him, many of whom have been with the firm for decades, and whom he considered family.
In later years, “giving back” became very important to him. Helping a person who was down on their luck was not uncommon. He was an original founder of and ongoing contributor to the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence Annual Auction, a donor to the Merrimack College Endowment Fund, the Jimmy Fund, and countless other causes. He also took great pleasure in mentorship while ever continuing his education through an insatiable curiosity, resulting in a lifetime filled with a diversity of experiences.
The proverb “PRESS ON” which begins, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence” were the words that he lived by.