The Sunny Plumber SoCal Blog

3 Reasons to Call a Professional Plumber

June 25th, 2018

sunny-plumberEven the most ardent DIY enthusiasts need to realize that there are certain problems that they may face in their homes that will require professional intervention. In many cases, reaching for the toolbox rather than the telephone is going to land you in some serious hot water. You may wind up doing more damage than would otherwise would have developed, or you may mistakenly believe that you’ve done a job well, only to discover you barely scratched the surface just a bit down the road.

Today, we are going to discuss 3 instances in which you should definitely call a professional plumber in Corona, CA. We understand that the enterprising homeowner in you may bristle a bit at doing so, but trust us when we tell you that we only have your best interest in mind. Truth be told, we’d stand to make a profit by allowing you to make failed attempts to service your system on your own, and then swooping in to repair things when they’ve gone wrong. But that’s not what The Sunny Plumber SoCal is all about! 

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What You Can Do to Avoid Clogged Drains

June 11th, 2018

sunny-plumber-logoClogged drains are among the most common of all plumbing issues that homeowners may experience in their homes. In best case scenarios, homeowners may be able to resolve a simple clog just by using a plunger to clear it out. Things are not so simple all of the time, though. It is also possible that homeowners will encounter very stubborn clogs, or even clogs deep in the system that wind up affecting the drains throughout their homes. In such cases, professional drain services in Corona,  CA are necessary.

That being said, and while all clogs cannot be avoided,  there are plenty of very easy ways in which you can minimize the occurrence of clogs in your home. Keep these tips in mind, and remember that prevention really is the best course of action when it comes to drain clogs. No measures will be 100% effective, but it is definitely in your best interest to take whatever steps possible to keep clogs as few and far between as possible.

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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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Tank. Tankless. Which Is Right for Me?

May 28th, 2018

technician-in-doorLet’s get the answer to the question posed in the title of this blog right out into the open—we’re not sure. Now, we can certainly discuss the pros and cons of each system, which we’ll do below, but we cannot give you a definitive answer as to which is best-suited to your home and your needs without knowing a bit more about your home and your needs. That is why we encourage homeowners thinking about a water heater installation or replacement in Torrance, CA to contact The Sunny Plumber SoCal directly. 

Our bright and shiny plumbing professionals have plenty of experience with both tank and tankless water heaters, and we’ve got the answers to virtually any questions that you may ask. So read on, consider your hot water usage as relates to the following points, and keep our number handy. When you work with the professionals on our team, you can count on getting the right water heater installed for your home, and in the right way!

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What Is an Anode Rod?

May 14th, 2018

sunny-plumbersThere are a lot of plumbing fixtures and appliances that you are very familiar with. Your toilet, bathtub, sinks, dishwasher, etc. Your water heater probably does not get the same amount of thought as these fixtures and appliances do, because you are not really interacting with it directly every day, as you do with these others. You should still keep your water heater and its overall condition at the front of your mind, though.

After all, all of the hot water coming from your faucets and into your appliances is heated by this system. One of the best ways to protect your water heater is already in place: the sacrificial anode rod. If you are not familiar with what this phrase refers to, then today’s post is definitely for you. We know what you’re thinking. Why should I care, as long as my water heater works? Well, that is precisely the point. If your anode rod is not doing its job, then your water heater will wind up in, well, hot water!

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3 Common Water Heater Problems

April 30th, 2018

sunny-plumber-logoHere in California, the summer season can be very hot. Even here, though, your air conditioner is going to have an offseason. It may be a brief offseason, but it is a respite for that system nonetheless. This is not the case with your water heater. For this particular appliance, surely one of if not the hardest working in any home, there is no substantial time of rest. This system is used every day, throughout the day, for many different tasks completed throughout your home.

Considering how used to having bountiful hot water whenever we need it we are, it goes without saying that any problems with your water heater are cause for concern. When you need water heater repairs, you need to contact a professional plumber in Huntington Beach immediately. Of course, doing so means that you need to be able to recognize signs of trouble with your water heater to begin with. Here are a few common ones to be on the lookout for.

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Choosing the Right Sump Pump

April 16th, 2018

sunny-plumberWhen you own a piece of property like your own house, you obviously want to protect that property at all costs. That is why you have homeowner’s insurance. It’s why you have smoke detectors. It’s why you have a—sump pump? If you’re surprised to see that piece of equipment listed with such integral investments, then you really shouldn’t be. A sump pump is a vital component in any home seeking protection from the elements.

It does not matter if it’s due to heavy rains or if your plumbing system has sprung a serious leak. When water starts flowing into the lowest levels of your home, you need to be sure that you have a plan in place. That plan is as simple as, well, letting a sump pump do its job! We install and service sump pumps throughout the area, and we employ some of the finest plumbers in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Contact us today if you’re ready to outfit your home with a sump pump.

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Hire Professionals to Find Your Water Leaks

April 2nd, 2018

If you ask any plumber in Rancho Cucamonga what the most common problems he or she faces on a day to day basis are, we’re willing to bet that “leaks” would come up extremely frequently. Yes, the pipe is a relatively simple component. No, there are not moving parts or complex electronic controls in a basic pipe. No, that does not mean that your pipes themselves will never run into problems. Regardless of whether a pipe has corroded through, been damaged, or has a bad connection at a terminal point, you need to resolve the problem fast.

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There are a number of reasons why it is vital to work with a professional plumber when it comes to repairing leaks. Ensuring everything is up to code, guaranteeing that no further problems are caused in the process, and so on. One of the most important reasons, however,  is the fact that you need that leak to be located precisely and quickly. When you work with The Sunny Plumber SoCal, you don’t have to worry about us tearing apart your home just to find the source of a leak!

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Is My Sewer Line in Trouble?

March 19th, 2018

sunny-plumberThere are certain parts of your home that are vitally important but that you probably do not think about all that much. Your sewer line would certainly fall into this category. If you do spend much time on a daily basis thinking about your sewer line, well, you’re definitely in the minority there! That doesn’t change the fact that your sewer line has a very important, if not all that pleasant, job to do. That’s why trouble with your sewer line is so disruptive.

As you can imagine—and without getting into too much detail—problems with your sewer line can lead to some very serious issues both within and around your home. Fortunately for you, our professional plumbers have some tips to help you spot problems with your sewer lines early. Okay, so maybe that’s not exactly “fortunate,” but it’s the best case scenario in a rather unfortunate situation nonetheless. Remember to call The Sunny Plumber SoCal for great plumbing in Pomona.

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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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