The Sunny Plumber Las Vegas Blog

Perks for Plumbers: Hawaiian Vacations, Craft Beer and ‘a Lot of Zen’

May 29th, 2018

FORT COLLINS, Colo.—The fast-growing business offers all the perks a pampered Silicon Valley tech worker might expect: An on-site tap flows with craft beer and the kitchen is stocked with locally roasted espresso beans. There is a putting green and a smoker for brisket lunches. Next up: a yoga studio.

Welcome to the gushing job market…for plumbers.

Colorado’s Neuworks Mechanical Inc. employs 75 plumbers but needs 15 to 20 more. To keep them happy, it offers “a lot of Zen,” says business-development manager Jackie Sindelar. That includes a sharing exercise that “brings out your raw emotions and makes you vulnerable,” she says.

Drained from a labor shortage, the plumbing industry is throwing the kitchen sink at job candidates.

Bonfe’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Service Inc. of South St. Paul, Minn., boasts an array of arcade games and a “quiet room”—a plush hangout space with insulated walls painted a calming sky blue. It has a lockable door, a comfy couch, a recliner and a sound machine that babbles with the soothing audio of ocean waves.

“When people have a bad day they go in there,” says Mr. Bonfe. “They literally check out for a while.” Mr. Bonfe, a veteran plumber and president of the 120-employee family business, could use the room himself some days, noting that the labor market is “the hardest I have ever seen.”

Plumbing employers are plugging on-site spa treatments, exotic trips and jet-ski outings. The Sunny Plumber—which serves the southwest with the slogan “Bright and Shiny and Won’t Show Our Hiney”—has job announcements offering free laundry service and “a suite at the Arizona Cardinals games for you and your family.”

In Manassas, Va., My Plumber Heating & Cooling is trumpeting “biweekly, on-site massages.” Across Virginia, Wisler Plumbing, Inc.’s February radio recruitment ad promised “a hot breakfast every morning.”

“We do that to set ourselves apart,” says President James Wisler, of the daily 7 a.m. repast that can include sausage, gravy and biscuits.

Kerry Stackpole, executive director of the Plumbing Manufacturers International, a trade group, described the race for talent as very real. And the profession’s reputation of being a bit of a drip presents an obstacle to recruiting and drawing new people to the field.

“It’s ‘the butt crack;’ it’s ‘the slobs,’ ” sighed S.J. Peters, the executive director of a Midwestern plumbing group, referring to tired misperceptions swirling around the trade.

U.S. job openings hit a record 6.6 million in March, with the construction industry<https://www.wsj.com/articles/economic-milestone-there-is-a-job-for-everyone-who-wants-one-1525797993?mod=article_inline>—where plumbers are heavily employed—seeing one of the largest jumps.

Building, needed repairs and retirements are fueling demand for plumbers at the same time the U.S. jobless rate<https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-adds-164-000-jobs-in-april-unemployment-falls-to-3-9-1525437126?mod=article_inline&mod=article_inline> in April fell below 4% for the first time since late 2000.

The annual median pay for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters was nearly $53,000 per year in 2017, according to federal data, but it isn’t uncommon to see jobs advertised for far higher wages, from $70,000 up to six figures.

“Our phone is ringing off the hook but we don’t have the skilled folks,” says Jonathan Bancroft, chief executive of Morris-Jenkins Inc. in Charlotte, N.C. The plumbing, heating and air-conditioning company is one of many offering to train unskilled people.

And to further distinguish itself, Morris-Jenkins is positioning its workplace as overflowing with fun.

“We like to play games and wear costumes…a lot!” say current Morris-Jenkins job postings that praise the “legendary” company breakfasts. In one event, Mr. Bancroft says, employees received mullet wigs for “Mullet Monday.”

Bob Hamilton Plumbing, Heating, A/C and Rooter in Overland Park, Kan., recently bumped its signing bonus to $5,000 from $1,000, says owner Bob Hamilton, whose corporate motto proclaims “Better Call Bob!”

The company added a perk in April: employer-sponsored pottery classes.

“I made a couple of bowls and what turned out to be a toothpick holder,” says Paul Smith, a veteran plumber and supervisor there. “It was a blast.”

Candidates know the fringe benefits are overflowing, according to Alex Kramien, chief operating officer of George Morlan Plumbing Co. in Portland, Ore.

A few weeks ago, he started aggressively recruiting out of state—offering to cover moving costs—and says “pet insurance has been brought up more than a few times in interviews.” (He’s looking into it and he gets the appeal: He says his own father spent $1,200 for cancer treatment for his goose George.)

In the meantime, Mr. Kramien waves concert tickets, “week in paradise” Hawaii trips, and use of the company-owned beach house and condo on the Oregon Coast. New plumber jobs at his company pay $44.84 per hour plus benefits.

Plumber Jason Braukman briefly left George Morlan, drawn by signing bonuses and opportunities elsewhere, but says the company’s benefits lured him back.

“We’re like top dogs now,” he says of plumbers.

That reality is one reason Wyatt Hepworth recently unveiled a new indoor basketball court at his business, Any Hour Electric, Plumbing, Heating & Air in Orem, Utah. He also made the company gym “six times larger.”

His technicians get other job offers weekly. Watchful managers whisk employees being courted by competitors off on company time, he says, for a half-day of fun, like jet-skiing.

And of course, “everyone is going to get swag,” he says of Any Hour’s shirts, caps, sunglasses and backpacks for the whole family.

A promise of a “brand new truck” that plumbers can drive home is helping Wilder, Ky.-based Jolly Plumbing, says operations director Scott Sharrock.

Jolly—where “A Flush Beats a Full House”—has its own indoor basketball court, two 72-inch televisions for sports viewing and allows plumbers to use Jolly’s building and large fully remodeled kitchen anytime for personal family shindigs.

“We have had a couple big parties with a lot of beer cans left over,” says Mr. Sharrock, adding that basketball games have led to busted ceiling tiles.

But the extras, he says, are necessary. “We can’t hire plumbers fast enough.”

Write to Jennifer Levitz at jennifer.levitz@wsj.com<mailto:jennifer.levitz@wsj.com>

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How Clean Drains Can Benefit You

May 21st, 2018

sunny-plumber-doorwayIf you’ve been taking advantage of this informational resource, then you’ve no doubt realized that dirty drains and drain cleaning in Las Vegas comes up quite a bit. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, it’s a more expansive issue than you may realize. We’ve talked about how we unclog drains, why you really cannot unclog your own drains, what causes clogged drains, and some of the less obvious signs that you actually have clogged drains. Today we’re covering another related topic: how clean drains can benefit you.

While it may sound obvious, and to some degree the fact that clean drains are better than clogged drains is obvious, the truth is that it’s just not something a lot of homeowners really think about that frequently. So read on, consider the overall performance of your own drains, and make sure that The Sunny Plumber Las Vegas is the company that you call when next you notice any issues with the drains or plumbing system at large in your house.

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Why Hire a Professional for Every Plumbing Service?

May 7th, 2018

sunny-techniciansWe get it. We live in an age dominated by internet “how-to” videos, where information is literally never more than a few keystrokes and a second of your time away. Well, call us old-fashioned, but there are situations in which—believe it or not—a few minutes spent watching such a video does not equate to the years of training and hands-on experience that professionals have to offer. This is definitely the case when it comes to your plumbing services in Las Vegas.

Today, we are going to discuss a few of the ways in which hiring a trained professional to handle your plumbing services is always going to benefit you.  Your plumbing system is way too important to take any chances with, so don’t roll the dice on your plumbing services. Instead,  go with the sure thing! Let The Sunny Plumber Las Vegas do the job.

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3 Signs That It’s Time to Call a Plumber

April 23rd, 2018

logoWe all lead busy lives in this day and age. The fact of the matter is that the old adage about there not being enough time in the day is truer now than ever before. Ironically, as connected as we all are these days, it seems easier than ever to let certain issues slip through the cracks.  We’ve all got odds and ends that we’ve placed on the back burner in order to prioritize other responsibilities. If you ask us, though, your plumbing system is important enough to keep at the top of your priority list.

Sure, there are plenty of plumbing issues that you may encounter which will not necessarily cross the threshold into “emergency plumbing” territory. The fact that you do not need to get a plumber out to your home in the middle of the night does not mean that such problems should be left to fester,  though. In fact, the longer that they go unresolved, the more likely they are to develop into something approaching an emergency. Contact the Henderson plumbers that you can trust here at The Sunny Plumber Las Vegas to have your issues addressed promptly.

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How Do I Know if My Water Line Is in Trouble?

April 9th, 2018

 

sunny-plumber-vanIn theory, your plumbing system is pretty simple, right? The supply side brings water into your home, you use that water at the various fixtures and appliances throughout your home, and the drainage system takes it away in a very hygienic and convenient manner. While that process is simple to understand, you have to keep in mind that even seemingly simple systems will encounter operational problems from time to time.

One of the biggest problems that you may encounter with your plumbing system is a damaged water line. Your water line is buried on your property, of course, so you may be wondering how it is that you can recognize signs of trouble with this pipe to begin with. The sooner that any problems with your plumbing system are resolved, the better. That is why The Sunny Plumber Las Vegas has some tips to help you figure out if you may need a main water line replacement in Las Vegas.

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Are Tankless Water Heaters Worth the Investment?

March 26th, 2018

logoWhen it comes to investing in any new piece of equipment for your home, be it a single appliance or a whole new comfort system, one of the very first things that you’ll take into consideration is the price tag. It is very important that you have a strong concept of just how much money you have to spend on such investments, so developing a strict budget is definitely a step worth taking. That being said, you should also keep in mind costs–and savings–that you may encounter beyond that initial price tag.

Take the tankless water heater, for example. Yes, one of the first things that you’ll notice when researching your water heater options is the fact that tankless systems are indeed more expensive than tank models–considerably more, in fact. That does not mean that a tankless water heater is not worth your consideration, though. In fact, there are many benefits that make the tankless water heater well worth that initial investment. Read on, and remember to schedule your water heater services in Las Vegas with The Sunny Plumber Las Vegas.

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With a Focus on Customers, Plumbing Firm Finds Fast Growth in Five Years

March 16th, 2018
With a Focus on Customers, Plumbing Firm Finds Fast Growth in Five YearsGary Eisenhauer, The Sunny Plumber general manager, poses outside the company’s office and many of its service vehicles in Las Vegas. Most of the company’s 43 vehicles are Nissan V2500 high-top models.

Business prospects are bright for The Sunny Plumber. Since it was launched in Arizona in 2013, the plumbing company has already reached markets in Nevada and California. And Gary Eisenhauer, general manager, believes that’s only the beginning.

“Ten years from now, we’d like to be in all the states,” Eisenhauer says. “It’s a lofty goal but absolutely possible.”

The Sunny Plumber would not, of course, be the first plumbing company with a national footprint. Think Roto-Rooter, for example. However, The Sunny Plumber can’t offer a novel solution to clogged plumbing lines like Samuel Oscar Blanc did with his homemade root-cutting device. Rather, company executives are banking on expertise and a sunny disposition to power their expansion.

FINDING ROOM TO GROW

Ken Goodrich is the driving force behind The Sunny Plumber’s ambitious growth plan. The entrepreneur, who grew up in his father’s air-conditioning business, has founded a succession of successful heating-ventilation-air conditioning firms and plumbing companies, including acquisitions in Arizona in 2013 that introduced The Sunny Plumber to Tucson and Phoenix. Two years later, the company opened an office in Las Vegas and, in 2016, in Corona, California.

In these locations, Goodrich owns both an HVAC company — Goettl Air Conditioning — and The Sunny Plumber, but he operates them separately. What they have in common is the goal of growing across state lines. As Goodrich puts it in a Las Vegas business publication interview in March 2017: “Our ultimate goal is to bring our brand, our unique customer-centric culture and processes across the nation and become the gold standard for home service in the U.S.”

To that end, the plumbing side of the organization is being aggressively marketed around an image of the sun. The company logo is a smiling cartoon sun ablaze with cheerfulness and holding a pipe wrench in one of its sunbeams. The theme continues through bright orange and yellow wrapping on service trucks — and the giveaway of a pair of sunglasses with every job.

FOR THE CUSTOMERS

The positive vibes flowing from the company image are also, by design, felt within the company, according to Eisenhauer. He says The Sunny Plumber is as optimistic a workplace as it appears to be.

“Every company goes through its trials, but we do everything we can to keep morale up. We do everything we can to make it a positive work environment. The management style I have always followed is to lead on a positive level,” he says. “And the positive attitude we have in the office, when conveyed to our clients, helps them overcome their situations. After all, the clients have called us because they are unhappy. They are unhappy that something is wrong in their home.”

Eisenhauer says the positive attitude begins with Goodrich, who, he says, is “upbeat and can-do and pretty demanding, too. He attracts the best talent — not just recruits them.”

The upbeat company attracts customers, too. It holds them through such innovations as The Sunshine Club, an annual maintenance agreement in which The Sunny Plumber techs inspect all fixtures, check the pressure on lines, do recommended maintenance on the water heater, and flush drains. The agreement promises two drain clean-outs each year and a camera inspection whenever a snake is deployed to clear a line.

Sometimes these inspections generate additional plumbing work, sometimes not. “If the house is in good shape, we’re going to tell the homeowner so,” Eisenhauer says. “If there are issues, we are going to say this is what you have going on. If you don’t want it fixed, fine. If something is not quite up to specs or is getting corroded, we will suggest a fix to avoid flooding because each inspection is really about flood prevention.”

Annual inspections are not original to The Sunny Plumber, except for the drain check and clearing, but are an increasingly popular feature: Eisenhauer says the company is signing up 100 to 150 Sunshine Club members each month. Fees for the plumbing maintenance do not vary with the size of a property. The service is reserved for residential customers, which constitute the bulk of the company’s customer base.

Another feature of the customer-centric culture is a guarantee of 100 percent customer satisfaction. That sounds like a pie-in-the-sky promise, given the wide-ranging expectations of homeowners regarding service. But Eisenhauer says the company lives up to the pledge — one way or another.

“We know we can’t make everyone happy. We could not get hot water to one bathroom we worked on, so we gave the client all his money back. I’ve given money back on $12,000 jobs,” he says. “When things don’t work, we leave the client satisfied by not taking his money and walking away. It’s all about reputation.” The company’s reputation is good enough to have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Eisenhauer believes people are afraid to call plumbers and other service technicians for fear of being victimized. With the 100 percent guarantee, potential customers know they have some recourse when things go wrong. “When people know that, they are more willing to let you do work for them. Most customers will let you work through problems until it’s right.” He adds that he has no evidence that potential customers try to game the system by feigning dissatisfaction.

A TEAM ATMOSPHERE

Eisenhauer’s office is in Las Vegas. From there, he closely supervises the activity of the company in its four locations. He accomplishes this mostly through weekly conference calls, but specific management issues that crop up at any of the locations are addressed the same day in real time.

Besides offering competitive salaries to its 42 employees, Eisenhauer says the company offers a team atmosphere in which colleagues “can jell and help each other out in the field. Plumbing is a fickle industry for technicians, who seem to have ‘the grass is greener’ syndrome. I try to look after and take care of our technicians.”

In return, Eisenhauer expects job applicants to communicate well, both in listening and verbalizing. That’s because a tech must be able to understand a customer’s plumbing issue and then clearly explain the cause of the problem and what will be required to resolve it.

Eisenhauer acknowledges that, as in other maintenance and construction industries, attracting qualified and suitable people to work as plumbers is difficult. “I don’t have a pipeline for techs, unfortunately.” For those the company does hire on, there is no shortage of work: The Sunny Plumber offers true, live-dispatched 24/7 service.

Technicians roll out in the company’s fleet of 43 trucks. Most of the trucks are fully equipped Nissan V2500 high-top models, which are deemed to be ideal because a water heater can be stood upright in them. Some repair specialists, as Eisenhauer describes the most experienced techs on the team, drive smaller units and are being transitioned to the standard-top version of the V2500.

A WIDE RANGE OF CALLS

Some of the same societal changes that make it difficult to find blue-collar employees are having impact on customers, too, but not as one might expect. The cultural preoccupation with electronic gadgetry has in some ways made homeowners more, rather than less, likely to roll up their sleeves and attempt plumbing repairs on their own, Eisenhauer says.

“Today’s homeowners are not less hands-on. If anything, they are more hands-on. They’ll watch some video and, by golly, they are now a plumber. Then we get the calls. We have a saying here: ‘Everyone is a plumber until they mess something up.’”

Like their peers across the plumbing industry, The Sunny Plumber techs sometimes arrive at a home and find the results of interesting attempts by a homeowner to repair something on his or her own. Eisenhauer recalls the time a technician walked into a residence for an inspection and found an Australian Foster’s beer can adapted to reuse as a vent on a water heater. “That was probably a homeowner fix.”

Service calls typically range from clogged drains and leaking pipes to fixture failure.

Before he became general manager of The Sunny Plumber, Eisenhauer “dabbled” in a variety of careers, from office administration to law enforcement and federal prison supervisory work. It was in this last capacity — as plumbing supervisor for eight years at a prison in California — that Eisenhauer gained perspective about customers. “I tell our technicians that my best client in prison was worse than my worst client on the outside,” he says. “My best defense was communication.”


First, look for integrity

A growing company like The Sunny Plumber is necessarily a hiring company. It builds out its business on the backs of new hires who, once they prove themselves, become the veteran employees whose performances foster future growth.

The Sunny Plumber will be in a hiring mode for years to come because the Southwest U.S. company aspires to establish itself across the country. “We are not yet expanding across the country, but that kind of thinking is coming into play,” says Gary Eisenhauer, general manager, “The goal (in 2018) is to expand quicker. Every month, we have a management meeting to determine if it is time to move forward or to slow down.”

In the process of expansion, Eisenhauer constantly will be culling male and female technician candidates for employment. The general manager says technical ability is not the first criterion he considers as he interviews job applicants. “The first thing I look for in the recruiting process is integrity,” he says. “That’s because I will be sending them out to clients they have never met. They have got to be able to work with strangers.”

He is not talking about an employee being congenial, though that also is a valuable customer service attribute. Rather, the employees must be trustworthy because they will be in clients’ homes where personal security is always a paramount concern. Both Eisenhauer and his customers must be able to trust that the plumber entering a home will demonstrate good character while there. Eisenhauer says what separates The Sunny Plumber from some competitors is the trustworthiness of the company itself and the integrity of the service employees who represent it.

In his focus on character, the company’s general manager might be channeling Warren Buffett, the legendary CEO of the Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate. Buffett is quoted saying: “In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.”

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Is My Sewer Line in Trouble?

March 12th, 2018

sunny-plumbersThere are a number of different problems that you may run into with your residential plumbing system over the years: anything from leaky faucets to cracks in a toilet tank or a damaged water heater. Some of these problems are true emergencies that require prompt repairs, while others can wait until the morning comes, at least. In the event of a damaged sewer line in Las Vegas, NV, you are not going to want to waste a second in scheduling plumbing service.

Your sewer line has just one job to do, and it is not really a pretty one. It is absolutely vital, though. In the event of problems with your sewer line, you are not just looking at bringing your residence and daily life grinding to a halt. You are also looking at potential serious property damage, as well as some seriously unhygienic conditions. That is why it is so important that you are able to recognize problems with your sewer line immediately.

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Always Work with a Qualified Emergency Plumber

February 26th, 2018

service-timeYou can do your best to remain aware of your plumbing system’s overall condition, but let’s face it—surprises happen. The last thing that you want is to be totally caught off-guard when problems develop with your plumbing system. Unfortunately, they can pop up seeming out of nowhere sometimes. If you should encounter a problem with your plumbing system after hours and it really cannot wait until normal business hours resume, then you are going to need to hire an emergency plumber in Las Vegas.

When that time comes, we strongly recommend that you make The Sunny Plumber Las Vegas your emergency plumber of choice. We don’t charge our clients extra for after-hours services, and our fully stocked vans will have what we need to get the job done right and promptly. There are a lot of plumbers out there, but you really don’t want to entrust your emergency plumbing services to “professionals” that are just not up to the task. 

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Are Dirty Drains Really That Big of a Deal?

February 12th, 2018

spoon-drainWe tend to talk about clogged drains and the need for professional drain cleaning in Las Vegas quite a bit around here, and there are some good reasons for doing so. First of all, it is one of the most common problems that homeowners may encounter with their plumbing systems. Second, it is one that too many homeowners fail to take seriously. And third, it can cause some very, very serious problems as a result of combining the first two points that we just made.

Today, we are going to discuss some of the problems caused by clogged drains, as well as some of the reasons why your drains may clog up. It’s not always as simple as putting the wrong things down the garbage disposal, and sometimes clogged drains hint at more serious problems that demand professional attention promptly. So read on, heed the advice that follows, and remember that the friendly, professional plumbers here at The Sunny Plumber Las Vegas are always available to help.

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