No Plans to Slow Down as Dinosaur Plumbing Keeps Focus on Quality Work

Arizona plumber overcomes challenges and uses new tools on the market to continue to grow his company five years after starting it.

No Plans to Slow Down as Dinosaur Plumbing Keeps Focus on Quality Work

Dinosaur Plumbing technician Donn Coltrin, left, and Bobby Scirica feed a new waterline into place.

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Traditionally when you think of the word dinosaur, you think of a large reptile, unwieldy in size, outmoded, and unable to adapt to change.

Bobby Scirica is none of those things, although he will admit to being a bit slower than most as the owner of Dinosaur Plumbing in Tucson, Arizona, now entering its fifth year.

“We’ve seen every kind of fixture known to man and helped install them too,” Scirica says about repairs on all makes and models of water heaters, toilets, bathroom plumbing, furnaces, and air conditioners too. “While it sounds like a cliche, we put the customer first — from working hard to accommodate a client schedule to competitive pricing and guaranteed quality. If our technicians don’t perform in accordance with our high standards, clients don’t pay until they’re satisfied with the results. And if for some reason during the first year of a new system clients aren’t satisfied with the equipment performance, we’ll cheerfully refund the entire amount of their investment.”

Scirica says Dinosaur Plumbing is a full-service plumbing company with a reputation built on offering honesty and ethics along with its technical expertise.

“We do sales, installations and repairs on virtually every aspect of the plumbing system,” he says. “From small jobs like hose bibs, faucets, sinks, toilets, water heaters, leaky pipes, and clogged drains to larger jobs like remodels, new additions, and rough-ins. We do it all.”

FOLLOWING FAMILY

That’s a sincere claim from the second-generation member of an Italian plumbing family where Uncle Luigi Lombarto also follows the trade in the same town under the banner of Res-Com Plumbing. “Uncle Luigi said there was room in this business for me, and he taught me a lot of things about the business until 2013 when I started my own company,” Scirica says.

Lombarto remembers well: “We drove each other nuts for two years. I’m 30 years in the business, an old-school plumber, while Bobby likes to use all the new tools. I had to teach him some tricks of the trade, things like how to break a wall open politely to get to the plumbing behind the Sheetrock. I taught him some of the old-timers’ secrets, and then he decided to go independent.”

At age 26 and laboring under a couple of additional burdens, he struck out on his own to do things his own way.

“In school, I was in special education because of a learning disability. I’m a slower thinker than many others and need more time to process things,” Scirica says. “When I assemble pipe, it takes me longer to visualize the process and procedure, so I operate to the beat of my own drum. I’m not a fast person when it comes to either thinking or plumbing, but by moving more slowly, it gives me an opportunity to think ahead, to plan out the steps of what needs doing before I pick up a tool and get to work.

“I can’t keep up with a bunch of calls back-to-back, but I do excellent work on one job at a time,” he adds. “I wanted to separate myself from the typical high-speed, back-to-back volume companies. Each job I do represents my unique form of installation art, and that’s the way I envisioned my company would work.”

In the beginning, he did what was necessary, and that involved emergency service calls from late-night or all-hours businesses like restaurants and bars with clogged toilets and urinals.

“The early days were a real grind, sometimes working two months without a day off,” Scirica says. “Emergency plumbing availability is arduous, but you do what you have to do to get started. It was brutal, but it worked like a diet because I lost 30 pounds.”

Today, 90 percent of Dinosaur Plumbing calls are service-oriented with the remaining 10 percent representing new installs in custom homes and a personal niche for Scirica doing water filtration hookups.

Scirica has been involved with wrenches and trenches since he was 15 years old, so when it came time for a company name, he referenced his lineage and his childhood. 

“I used to play video games, specifically Super Mario Bros., where two Italian plumbers went their way through a sewer system with the help of a dinosaur named Yoshi,” Scirica says. “That was my favorite character, but I couldn’t name the company Yoshi Plumbing or use that logo because Nintendo would probably have gotten pretty mad, so I called it Dinosaur Plumbing.”

Today there are four full-time technicians (Scirica, John Hall, Clay Flowers, and Donn Coltrin) and five company vehicles (all wrapped with a dinosaur image) including cargo vans, a large-body service vehicle, and a pickup truck used for sales calls. 

RELEARNING SOME SKILLS

It wasn’t just the educational process that slowed his professional ascendency; fate intervened in a couple unexpected ways. Coming home early in the morning from an overnight job snaking out a mainline, he was T-boned by another vehicle. “I got smacked pretty bad and didn’t work for several months.” 

Then came the biggie. Doing an apartment complex behind-the-wall leak repair between the first and second story, he was drilling through the wall, trying to get to the pipe, when his boot string got caught on the ladder and he fell through a single-pane window. 

“It literally ripped my right arm off — nerve, tendon, muscle, and bone damage,” Scirica says. “I had to learn to convert from being right handed to left-hand dominant, but the good that came out of it is I’m now ambidextrous.”

Each time he got knocked down, he got back up again. 

“My ability to keep moving forward and keep my focus on the job at hand came from my strict Italian parents, what I learned in ROTC training, and service in the National Guard where I learned to persevere against all obstacles,” Scirica says. “Sure, there have been setbacks, but they’ve only slowed me down, not stifled my spirit. I’m not a quitter. Never quit anything in my life. Never washed out or walked out until the mission was completed. There’s so much opportunity available if you’ll just persevere. Anything I might want to do, it’s available if I apply myself.”

USING THE TOOLS

When it comes to equipment, “I’m a RIDGID brand loyalist,” he says. “As a pioneer in the plumbing tool business, they make the best wrench on the planet, as well as other flex tools that help me finish a project without needing a lot of strength. I also use some items from the Milwaukee product line. It’s just those two brands for me.”

The company has a RIDGID SeeSnake Plus and a Model KJ-3100 hydro jetter to help with debris blockage in sewer lines. Scirica also relies on another of his favorites, a Milwaukee brand M18 ProPEX Expansion Tool and RectorSeal pipe sealant on many of his jobs.

The response protocol patterns that of other well-respected plumbing entities. Vehicles are identifiable as are the technicians with their company logo shirts. They call 20 minutes before the scheduled arrival time. The shoe booties go on as the doorbell rings. Problems are analyzed, fixes proposed and a cost-estimate prepared. Given authorization to proceed, work gets underway. And when it’s done, out come the brooms, vacuums, and trash disposal bags. Everything is as the techs found it, with one exception, the plumbing problems have been solved.

“In addition to the half-dozen cold calls we get off Google every day, calls that we slot into our daily schedule hopefully within a couple hours of receipt, we also book several maintenance inspection visits every week of the year for our Dino Club members who pay a monthly fee,” Scirica says. “We’re cost competitive with our market, a $69 service fee gets us on site, unless it’s after hours (5 p.m. to 8 a.m.), weekends, or holidays when the rate goes up to $99.”

One thing plumbers at Dinosaur Plumbing don’t do is dig. Whether it’s in grass, soft dirt, or hardpan, none of its workers touch a shovel. That’s left to specialty subcontractors. Being a plumber in a hot, dry climate with hard-packed caliche soil presents its own set of problems, but also helps jobs. 

“It’s hard to dig, but because it’s so compacted, we don’t see any sagging in installs and that’s a good thing for sewer piping,” Scirica says.

TEACHING THE NEXT GENERATION

Scirica says it’s becoming easier for plumbers to do their jobs.

“You’re no longer required to sweat copper or open joint connections,” he says. “I’m seeing a rise in the number of handy men doing plumbing work because not a lot of people are formally getting into the trades. America is short on skilled laborers and that’s why the industry is booming for trained tradesmen. We almost get paid like doctors.”

The company grossed $650,000 last year, and he expects more in the next five years.

“I intend to branch out in Arizona, to Phoenix, as well as outlets in Texas and Nevada,” Scirica says. “I’d like to franchise the brand name and become a coach in Plumber Success International, to help newcomers learn how to run an efficient plumbing business. In my case, I’ve been there, done that, and I would like to put wrenches in the hands of the new guys.”


Using all the tools

Bobby Scirica, owner of Dinosaur Plumbing, refers to himself as a new-school, millennial plumber who relies on new tools and technology to make jobs easier and faster.

On the marketing end, a telephone book ad is so yesterday. Instead, his Tucson, Arizona-based company is everywhere on social media with options ranging from Google to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, the Nextdoor app, and a local directory called the Tucson A List.

“I generate a lot of leads through group networking via Business Network International, Success Group International, and Plumbers’ Success International, a membership organization for residential plumbing contractors,” Scirica says.

The 30-year-old Business Network International is the world’s leading referral organization while Success Group International deals with plumbing/HVAC/electrical/roofing industries where business owners look to improve their success rate by working together and employing cutting-edge strategies and systems.

Plumbers’ Success International gets even closer to the core because its members are all residential plumbing contractors who, according to its website, “enjoy a competitive edge through proprietary tools and techniques, management expertise, marketing systems, and buying clout.”

So, as part of the contemporary generation of plumbers, Scirica goes high-tech in his advertising, networking, and prospecting methods to attract new customers. He keeps current clients through the level of service provided. The company has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and positive reviews on Yelp.

He stays generational and state-of-the-art in his technology toolkit.

“Portable battery-operated expansion tools are neat — part of the trend toward lighter, stronger, and faster tools of the trade,” he says. “I don’t need a big honking drill anymore because I can now use one half the size with the same amount of power. Camera technology has taken a big leap with color monitors and self-leveling heads. And the industry is getting more advanced with a closed cutter apparatus that has its own drain port.

“And I’m keeping my eye on the new backpack-mounted, battery-operated sewer snakes,” he says. “Theoretically it’s an awesome leap forward and very possibly a future addition to our service trucks.”




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