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Old 03-30-2015, 07:10 AM   #1
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First post and I'm only coming here for honest thoughts and opinions only because today I met a lot of really good people related to this forum. I donít normally post on forums simply because 99% of the forums out there are a waste of time with non-professionals providing expert advice and opinions. Most of the time it takes one second to pick up on who the clowns is and who the honest, knowledgeable and helpful members are.

With that said, thanks in advance from those of you that are helpful.
Iíve spent my life around plumbing. Iím not going to pull your chain or lie, its not now, nor has it been a passion of mine to be a plumber. I have enjoyed some of the technical thinking that I've been exposed to through working with my dad on litigation projects, but Iíve never dreamt about growing up to be a plumber or dreaming of the riches a plumber has. Every neighborhood boy dug ditches for my dads company. All of us ran, and ran fast away from the career of a plumber. All of the boys that worked for my parents went on to other careers. Between my brothers, brother-in-laws and friends that worked for my parents, we all went on to much different careers. Career Military Officers, Pilots, Police Officers, Firefighters. One kid kept it strong and has now been a plumber for the last 20 years, and heís the one that still takes care of everything for my parents and all of my momsí friends that need a plumber. We all watched the long hours plumbers put in. We all saw, or thought we saw, the hard days that plumbers put in. We all knew that plumbers donít get rich, and the adrenaline factor is minimal. When it came time for my parents to sell their business, none of us were at all interested in the life of a plumber. I confirmed to myself 16 years ago when I got out of the Air Force that I didnít want to be a plumber. I went to work for the person that bought my parents company, and plumbing wasnít my thing. I needed a rush every day that plumbing wasnít providing me at the time.

Fast forward 25 years and the factors of life that life brings. In the last 20 years Iíve been a firefighter in the Air Force, A Police Officer in Los Angeles, A Helicopter Pilot fighting fires for the Forrest Service, Charter Pilot to the Stars, and flown helicopters offshore for Oil and Gas. Iíve flown everywhere from the top of Alaska to the Bottom of Argentina as well as Africa. Currently, the FAA is dragging their feet on approving my flight medical which obviously is keeping me from working. Iím 100% healthy, but I am starting to see the light that the FAA simply has no intentions of authorizing my medical because I had a few incidents with vertigo, and though corrected through Physical Therapy, everyone is scared to take responsibility for signing me off. So Here I am.

Most start-ups would love to be in my shoes, or have the opportunities available to them that I have available to me. Reality is I need to get the ball rolling on controlling my own career and career path. Iíve been raised that honesty, integrity and hard work always pays off. I know thatís true more than anything in the plumbing world. I have all the tools, equipment and knowledge available to me. After hearing a few guys talking to my dad today, and hearing from their heart honestly about the things that heís done to help them succeed, I honestly flashed back to all the neighborhood boys working for him. How heís helped them be successful in other remarkable careers.

The guys that I met today were no different than any of us 25 years ago that worked for and listened to him. Taking his advice where we could, and asking his opinions when we needed them. I heard one guy ask him a question, and my dads response was phrased exactly how he would have phrased it to one of us boys or our friends. Ask a question, and you NEVER get an answer. Instead, you get a lesson. You get educated and you get an understanding. Most walk away shaking their heads trying to figure out why they couldnt just get the answer to their question in the simple cliff notes version. The truth is his answers ALWAYS provide a lesson and understanding. And, He will always tell you where to find the answer to look it up and verify it yourself.

Well, today I asked my dad one simple question. Why arenít I out doing plumbing on my own and what would it take? Four hours later, he went to bed lol. I still donít have an answer to my question. Instead he told me why I'm not doing it. He told me why it isnít easy. He told me why I canít replace my $180,000 pilot salary as a plumber. But in doing so, he also kept telling me how smart this plumber is, or how great this other plumber is doing that he helped get started down the path of running his own show. I listened to him today tell a plumber that heís a fool to not be doing this for himself and its easy to do it once you decide to do it, but you need to decide to do it first. Iím obviously still 15 in his head still and need to dig these answers up myself.

Iím here looking for advice from plumbers that have been in my shoes. Probably not the same pair. I feel like one foot is a size 14 and the other a size 2. Iím trying to balance out a decision based on recent knowledge of running a one man plumbing company. Iím looking to learn from experience and luck other plumbers have walked through. I know that the only reason I progressed as fast as I did as a pilot was because of a few pilots that were just like the guys I met today. They taught me what almost killed them and what not to do. They taught me about the real priorities of preparing for the next flight way before the flight ever came. I know that there is a lot of knowledge and I know that I can learn from everyone. I may not be a master plumber, but I know that Iím no dummy and I know when itís the right time to lean on experienced guys that are willing to help.

So, reality wise, what are the current rates youíve come across on starting GL Insurance, Bonding, and WC in California? What mistakes did you make from the start that you would do differently from the beginning if afforded the opportunity? What experiences can you share, or willing to admit publicly, that were so boneheaded that you simply canít believe that you made that mistake at the beginning?

This is just a start I hope. Hopefully there is a lot that can be shared and a lot for all to read and learn. I know not everyone has the guts to put it all out there and ask at the risk of being belittled by a clown hiding behind his keyboard. Iím a grown man and itís easy enough for me to see through whoís honestly trying to help and whoís just a standard forum troll. Obviously I'm aware of the regulations and laws. Im looking for honest input on your experience in getting started on your own. I know by the time my dad reads through this there will be another lesson to learn, and Iím sure the few of you on the forum will send him something on facebook the second you get a chance lol. Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:57 AM   #2
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Did you serve the trade. Apprenticeship, Journeyman, Master?
Use a tape --- or a folding rule?
Do you expect to make as a start up plumber 180 grand a year?
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Old 03-30-2015, 12:38 PM   #3
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Based on your first post, I'd say your Dad is only part of the reason it took four hours to get to bed after your seemingly "simple" question.

Your story is eerily familiar. I started with ditches, boilers, and in the shop with Gramps and my Dad. It sucked and I was convinced there had to be a better way. I found home in this trade as a Plumbing Business Operator but not until after running as far from it as I could.

I understand your desire for details on running a shop and there are countless volumes that have been and are yet to be written on the topic. If you are looking to replace your income, look elsewhere. If you are looking for the remainder of your life to be full of learning, stress, and challenges, then maybe being a Plumber and EVENTUALLY a Plumbing Business Operator is right for you. Just MAYBE.

That said, this is a classic case of cart before the horse. Precious few Plumbing professionals ever see $180K on a W2, even for gross wages. The PBO's that leave this world rich are almost non-existent but there a few exceptions. Most Plumbers pass away breaking even. The good news is I have yet to see one die homeless or hungry.

I suggest you gain clarity of purpose by taking on an apprenticeship gig ASAP. You need to immediately pursue this with the same drive and determination as an Apache pilot in a war zone, or put it to rest for good.

Get out there and take orders from younger men (boys) without your life experience and sense of responsibility. That is as easy as it will ever get and it isn't easy at all. If you have trouble stomaching that, then working in, and ESPECIALLY operating, a business in the grandest of all licensed trades (Plumbing), is just not for you.

Based on your post I believe your intentions are sincere, but I also do not read anything that indicates this is the right move for you. After a year of being on the bottom rung in a service shop, I would be very interested to read your revised thoughts.

While the grass sometimes is greener on the other side of the fence, you usually have to stick you neck out through some barbed wire to eat it.

I do wish you well no matter what course you choose.
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Old 03-30-2015, 01:08 PM   #4
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LOL, I guess he didn't like my answer.

Mark
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Old 03-30-2015, 01:15 PM   #5
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..........Fast forward 25 years and the factors of life that life brings. In the last 20 years Iíve been a firefighter in the Air Force, A Police Officer in Los Angeles, A Helicopter Pilot fighting fires for the Forrest Service, Charter Pilot to the Stars, and flown helicopters offshore for Oil and Gas. Iíve flown everywhere from the top of Alaska to the Bottom of Argentina as well as Africa. Currently, the FAA is dragging their feet on approving my flight medical which obviously is keeping me from working. Iím 100% healthy, but I am starting to see the light that the FAA simply has no intentions of authorizing my medical because I had a few incidents with vertigo, and though corrected through Physical Therapy, everyone is scared to take responsibility for signing me off. So Here I am.........

Here you are, on a day pass and off your meds. Back in the day, they used lobotomy to cure what ails you.
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Old 03-30-2015, 06:07 PM   #6
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TLP, glad to see you here. For those that don't know....TLP was at the get together on Sunday. That's his intro and all that's needed.

We've met a few times and although I've heard the most amazing stories about you, I won't pretend to know you.....however, what I do think I know about you is that you need excitement in your life. I think you'd be bored and feel institutionalized with plumbing. Money aside....I got a feeling you did the careers you did because of the excitement and how you felt alive. Plumbing is more of a marathon. Treat every customer right, do the best job you can and slowly your name gets out there to be.....but that takes years. You don't give off an impression of someone who lets the grass grow under your feet.

But to answer your question in the beginning....customer base I feel is the most important thing. When I really started in Cali I had no customer base....maybe 60 customers and had never worked for another plumbing company. It was hard and it sucked. I had much of the same equipment.....just no customer base. Heck it might've still sucked for me if not for that sewer inspection law here. You know people....you know people who know people and who can do their own plumbing. That puts you at a huge advantage.

Cost wise to get into a business? Fully loaded van, licensed and everything? Maybe 20-30k.

Mistakes I made not to do again? I didn't as well as I could have and often felt my way was right.

My suggestion if you can't fly? Gold mining, fix voltage lines from helicoptor, underwater welding, heck even crab fisherman. Give me a call if you want to talk or I'll see you hopefully at the next get together.
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Old 03-30-2015, 07:51 PM   #7
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TLP:

When I talk with plumbers there is a common theme among each one including myself when I strted in 1978. The plan is way over the top. What I mean by over the top , there is very little structure. The company will install new construction, remodel,government jobs, residentkal service, commercial service, commercial remodel,commercial new, water service, sewer replacement.


This spreads a company out beyond their means in many situations. My suggestion , focus on 2 to 3 nichss and be ome the expert and leader in your industry. I have never met a person that is satisfied with the total encompassed list. At times they are happy, happy lasts a short time. You want joy, you get that by being able to help and serve people best. You do not require action to experience joy.

As far as money, that will be detrrmined by the requirements in your community or state. You must have insurance, a certain amojnt of cash flow,and then the common business expenses. Wishing you the best in finding yourself.

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Old 03-30-2015, 09:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gear junkie View Post

Mistakes I made not to do again? I didn't as well as I could have and often felt my way was right.
What I meant to say.

Mistakes I made not to do again? I didn't listen as well as I could have and often felt my way was right.
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Old 01-11-2017, 12:52 PM   #9
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As a an update to my son's long winded post, He just completed his first year as a plumbing contractor. He is doing well and has some great accounts. He is doing both commercial and residential service, remodel and new constructio He is currently running three trucks and four plumbers. Some days we talk hourly sometimes we talk daily but I have kept an active roll. He has also had help from other plumbers including some on this forum. In my opinion he is too much like me and works too many days and too many hours. However, no one could slow me down either. He is also keeping a healthy balance between charity and earning which I have taught all of my kids. Overall, I am very impressed at what he has accomplished his hirst year.

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Old 01-12-2017, 03:51 AM   #10
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He's doing absolutely amazing!
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