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Professional Bullshioter
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I started with my Dad. Darn near from birth.

How bout you?
 
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Banned
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1,595 Posts
Started after four years in the service. Met my wife, her best friend's husband was a plumber and needed an apprentice. He did mostly custom homes at that time, great learning experience for me.
 

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residential service
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1,948 Posts
Wandered onto a one street tract home development one day absolutely desperate for work. Had zero plumbing experience, didn't want any. The super was explaining to me that he didn't hire anyone but that some of his subs would probably need help. About that time 2 guys were walking up and the super says "oh, yeah, check with these guys they're all the time needing help". I looked on the first guys shirt (who turned out to be one of two brother owners) and one tag said Henry and the other tag said XXXXXX X Plumbing. I really was desperate so I'm sure I had no outward expression but on the inside I was screaming "PLUMBING! WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE PLUMBING!". Started the next day and the rest is my history.

It's funny, I was talking with my wife just this morning about that time in our lives. It was a VERY troubled time. I had been self employed in a completely different line of work for several years and had to humble myself to go back and work for someone else. Those of you who have for one reason or another had to do this know that it is not an easy thing to do. I remember very shortly after I had taken that new job we were in a new Sunday school class one morning. There must have been several new faces in there because they did the whole get the chairs in a circle and every body introduce yourselves and tell what you do thing. I was so embarrassed. I did not want to tell anybody that I was a plumber (which of course I was not to begin with having been an apprentice for probably less than a month at that point). I just thought it was the end of the world almost.

A lot has changed since then and I have to say that today I can say that I am VERY, VERY PROUD to be a part of this fraternity. I love this work and I love what I do.
 

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Started with my dad also. Dropped out of my first year of college, and started plumbing with my father untill I could figure out what I really wanted to do. That was 31 years ago, I still have'nt figured out what I want to do.
P.S. Went back to college 15 years ago part time and finished my degree in construction management. Looked around the jobsite for the people who were making good money and not killing themselves, figured it had to be the project managers. So when my knees and back finally go completly I got that to fall back on.
Have I mentioned that I will probably have to work untill I die.
 

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I answered an ad in paper for apprentice. Did not go to college but knew i needed a trade to make any kind of decent living. Worked for 1st company 3 years in new construction res and com. Went to work for 2nd comapny for 2 years doing service and remodels, then went to work for myself 15 years ago and still enjoy plumbing and the people. I have said this many times...I would do plumbing for free if I didn't need the money!
 

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143 Posts
I and a friend of mine applied for the same job, plumbers helper, he got it. A year later he asked if I wanted a job that I woulden't quit right away, he lasted 4 more years and it has been over 20 for me.

I seen it for what it was, an honest living.
 

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I started out when I was 10 or so helping out my father on side jobs. I went to trade school and I orginally wanted to take carpentry. When I went through the Plumbing shop though, I had a real knack for it and I liked it. During my high school years, I got really good at the trade as well as the theory behind it. I helped the instructor on his side work as well as my father. When I was senior, I worked for a company while getting credit for school. I turned down two full scholarships for civil engineering because I love the trade so much. When I was 18, my father ad I became partners to realize our dream of owning a small plumbing ad heating company. And thank God, I'm still going strong.
 

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1,880 Posts
Knew from the time i was a freshman in high school . That was a waste of 4 years seeing as one week after graduation I started my apprenticeship . Started at a shop that had 100+ guys ,,,, We trained in ALL aspects of the trade ,,, it was TOUGH but still the best decision I ever made . :)

Cal
 

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4,960 Posts
Started working on houses doing remodeling, home improvements, trying to pay for Comm college. Ended up following my brother into apprentice school UA, been working with pipe ever since. Still taking comm coll classes by the way:furious: Not sure why.
 

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Water Whisperer
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3,627 Posts
Dad, brother, brother-in-law. Didn't work for them after I turned 18 because _ing family isn't big enough for all of us. :laughing:
 

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When I got out of the locomotive rebuilding business I got a job working at a plumbing wholesaler, I started out at the will call counter because I had prior experience in dealing with customers, I worked there for four years and one day one of the regulars came in. He was a large man ( about 350 lbs) and was a regular that owned one man service shop, and he said, " You're the skinny little bastard I'm looking for", turns out he needed to replace a trap on a tub on a mobile home, but couldn't fit underneath it. he paid me a $75.00 dollars to do it for him, and I continued to help him out after work from time to time on a regular basis.

After four months of this he came in at closing time on a Saturday, and told me to meet him at his house right after we locked up the supply house, he had someone he wanted me to meet. I met him at his house and he intoduced me to his younger brother that owned a union plumbing company and wanted an apprentice that he could count on to show up for work on time, all I had to do was sign up for the apprenticeship program and he would see to it I got in and he would pay me the scale I was making at the wholesaler till my apprentice pay caught up with it so that my family didn't suffer.

I worked there doing mostly service work for almost my entire apprenticeship, he went through a brutal and bitter divorce from his wife in my fourth year and he was forced to dissolve the business for all of it's assets, but he gave me a full set of hand and power tools for my own truck before he did so, said he owed me at least that for being a loyal employee for four years, and he called a friend that put me on a high rise crew to finish out my apprenticeship. High rise work interested me to the point that I studied the design and codes used for it, and soon was a foreman, and not long after that I was able to design systems that minimized wet columns and run large crews, so I worked as a superintendent for a few years, till I got burnt out and went back to service work. Then I started my own business and got my ass handed to me.
 

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I started working with my Dad's plumbing company when I was 16, after school and summers. After high school I was accepted into a union apprenticeship school in LA. I started out in residential, then moved up to commercial work including the high rise buildings around Orange County. Got to work on jails, schools, hospitals, sewage treatment plants,etc. These days I live in the Central Coast area of California; halfway between LA and SF (God's country), and the good ol boy Union up here wouldn't transfer me in so I quit the union and eventually went to work for the local school district and I use my contractor's license moonlighting on my own projects. In all 30+ years in the trade, I'm still doing it, and I like it most of the time. (except this morning when the $%*&@# snake cable wrapped around my hand!)
 

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every tool is a hammer
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4,304 Posts
I knocked around a bit.
1. college student (dropped out)
2. tree trimmer
3. prison guard
4. bartender
5. factory hand, then foreman (fired the owner's nephew)
6. public works employee
7. chemical plant
8. apprenticeship
9. journeyman
10. owner (sold shop to current boss)
11. foreman/estimator/turd herder
 

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I aint CPV see in it?
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4,896 Posts
Learned only service from my father, started riding in the van when i was around eight. Always hated it. High school came and every summer and spring break, whatever, I was working with the new construciton guys. 19, tried the resturaunt thing(mostly for the pretty waitresses), then got into plumbing full time. Never looked back. Took a long time for me to become not only afraid to tell people what I do, but to get used to what I do. Now, I am very proud to call myself a plumber, and very proud to be a licensed plumbing contractor. Its funny, gave my dad a set of plans the other day, and he asked me WTF do you want me to do with these!!!
 

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Master Plumber
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1,069 Posts
Same, same!

After my old man came home from WW2, his brother said, "We can be plumbers or electricians." Pop answered, "Electricity's dangerous and I hate getting shocks. Plumbing's for me."
Wow! My dad grew up Amish. When he was still a lad at home my grandpa left the Amish and joined a strict Mennonite church.

Because they were no longer Amish, my grandpa no longer needed my dad's help on the farm. (Tractors were invented for a reason you know!) So he made arrangements with two tradesmen that my dad could work for either one. And electrician and a plumber.

He chose the plumber. Guy named Paul something or another in Kalona, IA. Then he moved to MO, married my mom, and went into business himself. Today he is a licensed plumber in Belen, NM, doing business as Rio Grande Enterprises. (Real imaginative name huh? What can I say? grin.)

When I was 16 to 18 I absolutely hated plumbing. It was because of a conflict between me and my dad that had it's roots in his absolute submission to a near cult like church, and my questioning everything in order to separate the good from the evil. We were doing some electrical work too. There were no inspections. We were the only ones in a wide region that remotely cared about doing work to code, whether plumbing, heating, or electrical. Probably 20% of our work was electrical for the last 4 years I was at home.

Anyways, at age 18 I suddenly separated the work from the boss. And I fell in love. After I left home, and lost my way for a bit, I once again had the old choice. I was offered a job with an electrician and one with a plumber. I thought long and hard. The bottom line, at age 21 was that I would enjoy being an electrician, but at the end of the day it was a job. A career. And if you observe electricians, for many of them that's where it stops.

But I saw in plumbing not only a job and a career, but something bigger than that. A richness of heritage. A passion waiting to finish developing. An identity.

I chose plumbing. Went all the way. Licensed master Plumber and the whole works.

And now that I have been forced to change careers, I still have the passion of plumbing running in my blood. I am still a plumber. I have wondered if I had been an electrician. I cannot fathom leaving that career and still saying "I AM an electrician". I suspect it would be "I WAS an electrician". Now I ain't busting on electricians. It's a cool trade. I like it a lot. But there is a difference.

Tonight, a friend who runs a local non-profit I support called me. A toilet was running. Walked in, an Eljer. Touched the ball. Black. Fill valve was shot. Man, that was such a small thing, but it was a thrill to use the tools. Yes, that is about as elementary as it gets in plumbing. But to be in "the zone" again... man...

So that's a bit more history how I got my start.
 
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