ROGER WAKEFIELD: There are different types of plumbers. I came up when I first got into plumbing I started as a commercial construction plumber. So the differences really are that there’s construction and there’s service. So you’re either building high rise buildings or houses. Service you’re either repairing houses, apartments, condos, commercial buildings, anything like that. If they call and need a remodel they need a sewer un-stopped, they need a faucet dripping fixed…those are really the different types of plumbers.
Now me, there are also different levels of plumbers. You bring in apprentices and teach them the trade as they grow. We are a union service company, so our apprentices go through the apprentice training ship program through the United Association. The good thing about that is that they get training two nights a week and it’s training in everything from blueprints and drawing to soldering to braising to welding the cutting to how the plumb a house and what is code. It also in the plumbing industry it also here in Texas the United Association also teaches medical gases. So you have to get your med gas endorsement before you get out. So there are different type plumbers. Once you get into a residential service company like we are you can hire apprentices, you can hire tradesmen, you can hire journeymen, and then I am a master plumber and you have to be a master plumber in order to own a plumbing company or not only that’s not true. Every plumbing company has to hire at least one master plumber to register their license.
Some of the bigger companies in town aren’t even owned by plumbers. They’re owned by financial companies. So to have a company that’s actually owned by a responsible master plumber and involved in the business every day to me is a benefit because it’s not all about finance and numbers to me it’s about doing the job right.
JOHN: Well you mentioned a company has to have a master plumber. Do people ever call and say I want a master plumber sent out.
ROGER WAKEFIELD: Not really. I don’t think most consumers know the difference between an apprentice a tradesman a journeyman and a master. An apprentice is someone just starting out up to 4000 hours at 4000 hours they can take their tradesmen exam which allows them to walk into any house any single family dwelling and do anything plumbing. So after just two years as an apprentice they feel that they have enough experience and education to walk in any house and do that job. At 8000 hours. That is when they can get their journey license. That’s where most plumbers start feeling comfortable enough to completely do everything by themselves and on their own.
JOHN: What are the employment numbers like 100 doctors 100 percent employment dentists 100 percent employment? Is it that way in the plumbing field if somebody is thinking I want to get into something else.
ROGER WAKEFIELD: I’m going to say I can’t tell you it’s 100 percent but it’s not far from it. With me being involved in the union here in Dallas I know that we’re always looking for plumbers. We do some of the biggest jobs in town. And since I’ve come along now they’re doing some of the smallest jobs in town. When I first got in the union in ‘97 it was all commercial. Now in the past I guess I signed a contract with the union about three years ago. Two years ago some were on around that I was one of the first service companies in town to do that. But I liked the benefits that it allows my guys, they make good money they have great benefits and it to me it’s easy to keep them as plumbers because they’ve got a great deal. It’s a good gig.
JOHN: Do they work for you on a full time basis or do you just have their network and you call Joe can you go over to this house and fix this.
ROGER WAKEFIELD: My plumbers work for me full time. There are plumbing companies that just sell work and then sub it out to plumbers. We believe that if we bring our guys in, we train them we work with them, we get to know them at Texas Green Plumbing we want to build a culture. We want to have the best customer service. We want to do the job right. And I think our guys enjoy that they love the fact that we really care about our customers. It’s not always about the money. We’ve taken jobs and got into jobs where we didn’t make as much money as we could. We’ve done jobs we’ve lost money but at the end of the day we treat our customer right and we want to do what’s right for our customer.
JOHN: Do people ever ask you let’s say and maybe it’s somebody who met you in a non-plumbing situation finds out what you do if for preventive information advice what they could do to improve their house for the long run, when they don’t have a problem at that moment.
ROGER WAKEFIELD: Absolutely. One of the big questions that we get is water heaters. We did a blog and a video on this just the other day. Taking care of your water heater if you’ve got a new water heater your water heater is just within the past couple of years. Flush it, hook a draining hose up to the bottom open the valve flush out your water heater you want to get the calcium and magnesium out of the bottom of it. It makes it less efficient and it also starts leading to the demise of your water heater. One thing I also recommend to people is if you’re getting a new water heater put on an anti-scale kit or a whole house water filtration system in.
There’s haven’t so many problems in Plano right now with chloramine in the water and guys there’s filtration systems that take that out. I hate to tell Erin Brockovich that chlorine in the water is a good thing but if we don’t have chlorine or chloramine and I’m not riding the political bandwagon or anything it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to know we’ve got clean healthy water getting to the houses. Once it gets there It’s like carrying home a lot of lettuce from the store. There’s pesticides on it guys unless it’s 100 percent organic i hate to tell you it’s there when you get home you need to rinse it off a whole house water filtration does that. If you install a whole house water filtration system on your house that chlorinated and chloramine water when it arrives that filtration system will take it out to where now when it gets into your distribution system inside your house you’re not absorbing it when you take a shower, you’re not absorbing it when you cook with it and you’re not absorbing it when you drink.
JOHN: Where do you put this before the water heater?
ROGER WAKEFIELD: I i nstalled one at my house different houses are different. We installed ours in the garage. And were my waterline comes in, we dug down to that water line at the valve box, we run a line over up in through the garage wall, went into the filtration system, came back out went down went over into that or tied back into it. We put a bypass system in. We ran a drain down because they do have to regen. Some of these water filtration systems I see, you need to change the filters every six months. The systems that we use at Texas as Green Plumbing, our water filtration system you don’t have to do anything to for about 20 years; can’t beat that.
JOHN: Really now you mentioned about how you really love the state’s regulation system. What happens if somebody has a plumbing job done a fairly large job and they at least question the quality of the work, or the pricing of the work. What are your abilities to challenge it or at least have it looked at by the state?
ROGER WAKEFIELD: Quality of work, hopefully you’re getting it inspected. You can ask your plumbing inspector when he’s there why he thinks. It’s really funny one of the lending companies in town I went to a networking event with realtors. And she talked to me and we had done an installation of I believe two water heaters in her attic. And when I walked in and she saw me she came up and hugged me she says I want you to know the plumbing inspector asked me who did this?
And she told him who it was, Texas Green Plumbing. When he looked at it he said I want you to know this has put in better than they’re normally put in. He says normally plumbers don’t worry about are the line straight, are the solder joints wiped, is it nice and neat and clean and insulated. He says this looks very, very professional he said sad to say I don’t see this time so it’s a big difference.
JOHN: Very good and again you’ve mentioned Texas Green Plumbing your company in case somebody maybe just hopped in their car company its Texas Green Plumbing, Roger Wakefield who’s with us is the owner of the company and there their phone numbers 972-442-4101. Texasgreenplumbing.com is their website.
And what got you to I mean it’s a big step to open any kind of company. What motivated you to start Texas Green Plumbing, was it something organic so to say or was it just hey I want to own my own business I don’t feel like working for somebody else?
ROGER WAKEFIELD: Yeah I had a brain fart. I was actually in i was in a meeting at the company that I worked at before and I was director of operations and construction. And the owner was talking about what she was doing what are what the company was doing in their service side to make them better and one of the things she says look we want to focus on customer service and training and she named off some other things. And I just asked her I said OK so what are you doing for customer service?
She says what do you mean? I said well how are you excelling in customer service, what kind of training are you doing?
She says well we’re not our guys know what to do. That’s not an approach we take. And from that day forward I knew I wanted to do it and I wanted to do different. And I wanted to do it better. We have a huddle every morning. We have our guys together 30 minutes to an hour. We do training on customer service. We do training on plumbing. We do training on our straightforward pricing guide. We do we do training on everything that we can think of. We want to make sure our guys understand what to do and how to do it right.
JOHN: Do you contact former customers when they, if you haven’t heard from them for a while to ask them about how things have worked out and that sort of thing or if there’s anything else they need to be done?
ROGER WAKEFIELD: We do. We go back and read our reviews. We get mostly five star reviews and I’m very proud of that. I have customers i ran into a customer yesterday I went out like that I had to run a camera through her sewer and yes I did that myself. But I went out and I was talking to her and she says I want you to know I saw you on next door and everybody there that commented about you had nothing but great things to say about you.
That’s like that makes me smile bigger than anything.
JOHN: A nd you have a right to be proud because certain fields like dentists or plumbing could be one of those are people like oh God I don’t get the plumber out here. I know it’s going to be super expensive and will he do the job right and its things that are past the handyman level of risk.
But what would you tell people as far as the most important jobs to stay on top of? They’re looking around their house trying to not look or trying to not avoid seeing something that might cost them a little money?
ROGER WAKEFIELD: N ine out of ten homes have a leak. I hate to say that but with Earth Day coming up and Texas Green Plumbing is going to be out at Earth Day this year. Y’all if you’ve never been there it’s really neat. I personally won’t be able to be there but Texas Green Plumbing man is going to. And if you have not seen our leak detection superhero it’s worth going out to Earth Day just to see that.
But leaks are huge. Look at your meter. Go check your meter every now and then see if it’s moving see if it’s turning. Look at your water bill. If you detect or notice an unusually high usage of water make sure that you do something about it. We’ve gone out with people thinking they have a leak under their slab and it turned out that they had a toilet that was running slow and they didn’t even realize it. So leaks can occur everywhere. Guys they cost you money whether you realize it or not and a toilet running can cost you hundreds of dollars a year why waste that money.
JOHN: And you’re wasting water too on top of that. OK we’re going to taking another quick break here we’re talking with Roger Wakefield of Texas Green Plumbing his Web site Texasgreenplumbing.com. I’m John Wolf.