Working With Fellow Plumbers

California’s Hansen’s Plumbing & Mechanical builds relationships with other plumbers using specialized services.
Working With Fellow Plumbers
Cory Hansen, owner of Hansen’s Plumbing & Mechanical, stands in his company yard in Ventura, California.

When Cary Hansen opened his plumbing business in Ventura, California, in 1987, he knew he wanted to offer something a little bit different than other plumbers in the area.

Hansen, owner of Hansen’s Plumbing & Mechanical, decided to offer specialized services as well, including backflow testing, smoke testing and pipe freezing. This allowed the company to market to other plumbing firms in the area that didn’t offer those services.

The company covers a 15- to 25-mile radius in Southern California, but the company will also serve customers in other communities as needed.

Q: You said that you offer some of your services to other plumbers. How do you handle this part of the business?

A: Some of our business colleagues in plumbing are not offering extended services, such as cameras or the big jetters, the drain work, or the smoke testing that we do.

We make ourselves available to them as a subcontractor, or in other cases we go in and work with their customer directly upon their recommendation. This way we support other plumbing outfits.

Q: Do you offer pipe bursting and relining?

A: We have offered those services, but we actually sub out that work. There are companies that only offer these services. We are considering including these technologies here at Hansen’s.

Q: What percent of your business is in basic residential plumbing, and how have you been able to grow that part of your services?

A: We do about 50 percent in residential plumbing. We have been able to grow over the years thanks to several reasons, including the work we have done for some of our commercial customers.

Our commercial customer base represents about 15 percent of our business, but as we service these clients we have been able to develop residential business with their employees, who see us on the job and know that our work for them would excel because we take good care of their workplace.

Q: How many employees do you have on staff?

A: We have 13, including my wife Patti and I. There are six service technicians.

Q: Do you offer any remodeling to residential customer?

A: In addition to basic plumbing, we do some remodeling, but we don’t really go after that. If a customer wants to do a redo, or if they have had a flood or a mudslide, they may need some help. When we do this type of work we are not doing the finish work. Someone else will take all that responsibility. We just do rough plumbing.

There are local supply houses with great showrooms. If a customer comes to us we point them in that direction. The supply houses have all of the options and always a good staff on hand to help the customer with models and brands.

Q: What are some significant changes you have seen in the plumbing industry?

A: One of the things I see lacking in many industries is customer service and courtesy. This has always been important, but it seems like people are getting away from it. This is something we pay attention to with our entire staff, and we talk about the importance of being polite and respectful.

Q: Explain further how you have been addressing this with your employees and how you instill these principles.

A: Every workday we take 30 minutes and get together — field staff and office — and just go over these things. We have a little powwow. Nothing major, but we discuss these things and other issues related to the business. We will additionally go over various procedures and jobs, some cross-training and safety videos.

Q: What do you see for your company in the future?

A: I would hopefully see, in three to five years, having our own facility with bigger office space and bigger yard and shop. I’m thinking of getting a recycler truck or a jet/vac truck. We have no water here in Southern California. I’m researching and talking with people at the municipalities to see the feasibility. It looks like the demand is ramping up. There is interest in this.

With the big jet trucks, the newer versions, instead of using fresh domestic water from the fire hydrant to fill the tank, we will show up at a job where there is a blockage and the vacuum will pull the water out and filter it within the system, and use that water for jetting. This can save up to 20,000 gallons a day per vehicle.

We will lift the manhole, vacuum the water and debris out of the stoppage and actually be cleaning up and separating the material. This will be very efficient as we can get up to three times the amount of lineal footage with this newer vehicle.


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