It Takes a Village: 20 Companies Come Together for Fifth Year of Plumbing Firm’s Charitable Renovation Project

Minnesota’s T ‘N G Plumbing and its partners prepare to put $65,000 worth of work into the home of this year’s recipient of the company’s annual Pay It Forward project

It Takes a Village: 20 Companies Come Together for Fifth Year of Plumbing Firm’s Charitable Renovation Project

T 'N G Plumbing does a walk-through of the home of this year's Pay It Forward recipient in preparation for the week of construction that will begin Monday.

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Imagine living in a house with only one working faucet. That's the reality for Dan Johnson.

Unable to afford repairs to the plumbing for his shower and kitchen sink, Johnson instead chose to have them both capped in recent years. That left only his bathroom sink receiving running water. On top of that, his toilet recently joined his list of plumbing problems.

According to his sister, Mary Lange, who nominated Johnson for the annual Pay It Forward project coordinated by T ‘N G Plumbing in Dexter, Minnesota, he “is in need of some support or a helping hand, yet he doesn't always reach out to ask for himself.”

Johnson has worked for the same security company the last 20 years, and has always been financially responsible, Lange says. He’s generous, despite a modest income, and frequently works holidays or double shifts to cover for other employees.

“In spite of all those hours of work and dedication, it doesn't afford him the extra money to pay for needed repairs in his home,” Lange wrote in the nomination letter. 

Since his first job at 15, Johnson has saved up money, eventually for the small house that he bought in 2002.

“When he was ready to buy a house, his excellent credit and work ethic were rewarded. It is a small house that met his needs,” according to his sister’s letter. “Dan is not able to afford all of the repairs that are needed so he goes without. He will do what he can and sacrifice the rest. Yet he hasn't complained or even asked for help.”

Next week, a community effort involving over 20 companies, led by Gina Grundmeier, co-owner of T ‘N G Plumbing with husband Todd, will change Johnson’s life.

“Our feeling this year as far as where the need was greatest, was for Dan,” Grundmeier says. “It’s not a matter of him not taking pride in his house. It’s very well-maintained outside of these big, huge plumbing projects kind of lurking over him. I think it becomes overwhelming. He has adapted. He goes to his girlfriend’s house to shower. He hasn’t complained about it or asked for help, but at the same time he’s the kind of guy who if you needed something, would be there to do what needs to be done.”

Among many applicants, Johnson was chosen this year as the Pay It Forward recipient for a full repiping of waterlines and drain lines, a bathroom renovation, a kitchen renovation, furnace and air conditioning upgrades, and landscaping to his house’s exterior.

Everything is donated. To name a few:

  • Bathroom fixtures and kitchen sink from Goodin Company
  • Water heater from Johnstone Supply
  • Tub/shower and miscellaneous plumbing needs from Bennorette Marketing
  • Delta bathroom and kitchen faucets from North Central Sales Corporation
  • Furnace and air conditioner from Bryant

Local contractors are doing all the flooring, carpentry and electrical work, materials included, and a local mechanic even fixed Johnson’s car, all for free. They will also install all new cabinetry in the kitchen, the only material that isn’t donated but which will be paid for through raised funds. 

All construction will be done from March 26 to 30. Johnson’s accommodations at a local Holiday Inn are comp’d, as are his dining needs for the week, via gift cards from over a dozen local restaurants.

Every year of T ‘N G Plumbing’s Pay It Forward project, now in its fifth year, has been an escalation from the previous project. Overall — among material, labor and goodwill donations — Grundmeier estimates that about $65,000 will go into the 2018 campaign, up from around $55,000 last year.

Johnson’s project also deviates from certain factors of previous recipients. Prior years’ undertakings typically involved families hit by tragedy, like last year’s family of four, where the 9-year-old son was dealing with cancer. It’s a reflection of the program’s origins: the Grundmeiers faced their own personal misfortune when a fire destroyed their home in 2010. They started T ‘N G Plumbing a year later and were later voted the best plumbing company in the area by locals, which drove them to give back to the community.

“Pay It Forward is very dear to my heart, and I’ve put a lot of love into it,” Grundmeier says. “Everyone has had their own story. This year it was Dan, the one place that pulled to us. We had people with medical issues, or even just an unsightly bathroom, but everyone else had the functionality, what they needed for all the plumbing to actually work. In Dan’s case, he doesn’t have that. We all walk out when we’re done looking at nominations, and we know.”

Read more about T ‘N G Plumbing in this profile featured in the March 2017 issue of Plumber magazine.

And read these stories if you want to learn more about the previous Pay It Forward projects the company has tackled:

Plumbing Company’s Charitable Project Grows in Fourth Year

Minnesota Plumbing Company Pays It Forward — One Bathroom at a Time

Minnesota Plumbing Company Helps Rebuild Lives

Minnesota Plumbing Company Reaches Out



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