How Plumbing Facebook Groups Have Changed the Industry

Learning from and networking with fellow plumbers has never been easier than it is in today’s internet age

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This past decade has seen an explosion in online content and forums. What once a plumber could only learn on the job, in the classroom, or through additional information at the local library, is now at the technician’s fingertips while perusing the iPad after dinner. At one time, business owners had to join national associations and best practice groups, and attend annual meetings to get a feel for what other industry owners were doing. Now they can also get much of that same experience online 24/7.

There has never been a more powerful way to learn, network, and get a feel for what other plumbing businesses are doing than Facebook groups.

Facebook has tons of groups that are free to join on nearly every subject and profession in the world. The plumbing profession is no different. Hundreds of thousands of plumbers and business owners exchange information throughout the day and night totally free of charge. Facebook groups have taken plumbers and business owners on all ends of the spectrum and lumped them all into one giant after-work hangout spot. 

The information that is passed along on a second by second basis is completely staggering. Plumbers essentially have instant access to the knowledge of hundreds of thousands of other professionals throughout the world. A plumber could be in a customer’s bathroom taking apart a faucet, post a photo of the stem, and instantly get feedback from other plumbers about who the manufacturer is, roughly how much it costs, and where it can be purchased. Others may post multiple photos and explanations of a nuisance issue they are having in a commercial building. Plenty of potential solutions will be shared and surprisingly the entire group will follow up with that tech to see what he found and what eventually worked to solve the problem. Plumbers will post their marketing ideas along with the results they’ve produced. They may also post a picture of a major purchase, such as a trailer jetter, they are considering and will get feedback from hundreds of other business owners who already own one.

The mosh pit of professionalism doesn’t stop there. These groups have taken on brand identities within the trade. They have their own lifelong members, logos, shirts, hoodies, hats, hard hat stickers, merchandise, and in-person hangouts and meetups. Strangers from around the country become friends online through “shop talk” and set up group tickets to MLB or NFL games. Plumbers are posting jobs and getting feedback from inspectors on what needs to be done or what should be done next time. Plumbers are getting recommendations directly from engineers and manufacturers on specific products to solve particular problems they are facing. Inspectors are having live meetings for all plumbers to see on code talk. 

More impressively these groups have reached out directly to manufacturers and done tool giveaways, online training sessions, business seminars, and live Q&As with corporate tech support staff.

Of these online plumbing groups, for me two seem to stand head and shoulders above the rest: Order of the Wrench and Plumbing Outlaws. These groups are the heavyweights of the online plumbing community, with what many would consider the elites of the industry. 

Plumbing Outlaws is exactly what it sounds like: A group of the industry’s leading professionals with an attitude. They can dish out some wrath on occasion, but they are every bit a close-knit family of plumbers who have each other’s back while performing some of the most impressive work you’ll ever see. The attitude stems from the amazing work of their plumbers. 

Order of the Wrench is the larger of the two — a conglomeration of many different aspects of the trade, with people who are elite in their respective expertise. They provide manufacturer sweepstakes, online learning, and direct channels of learning and feedback from apprentices up to retired plumbing veterans with 50 years' field experience. Their work is first-class in every sense of the word and is the best the plumbing world has to offer.

These two groups are filled with such a large variety of tradespeople: owners, service plumbers, foremen, inspectors, new-construction plumbers, industrial plumbers, commercial plumbers, pipe fitters, apprentices, journeymen, masters, retired plumbers, hydronic pros, steam pros, etc. The work that comes from these two groups is unbelievable. Beautifully large mechanical walls filled with piping and controls, high-rise buildings jammed with precise webs of cast iron piping arrangements, scores of perfectly installed piping avenues, stadiums of piping proudly shown from start to finish, displays of near-impossible repair situations and the genius outside-the-box thinking to overcome them, and large-scale piping operations in big cities. 

The thing that makes Facebook plumbing groups so unique is the level of learning from others on both an owner and plumber level. More importantly, there’s a lot of industry pride on display. If you haven’t joined such a group, you should. It is one of the best things that has happened in our trade in a long time.

About the Author

Anthony Pacilla is a registered master plumber for McVehil Plumbing in Washington, Pennsylvania. He has 23 years of experience in the plumbing and HVAC trades, and has a bachelor’s in business and economics from Thiel College. 


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