Delegating Duties the Secret to Success for Mertz Plumbing

‘Sooner or later, you get to a point — a threshold — where you can only do so much yourself.’

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Successful entrepreneurs often are driven, Type-A personalities who run a tight ship and want to be involved with every aspect of their business. But the very traits that help them succeed can also take its toll.

A good case in point is Matt Mertz, whose business — Matt Mertz Plumbing Inc. in Wexford, Penn. — has grown exponentially since he established it in 2004. After nine years in business, Mertz recognized he couldn’t do it all. So he promoted a company salesman, Rob Eadie, to general manager.

It was a move Mertz has never regretted.

“Sooner or later, you get to a point — a threshold — where you can only do so much yourself,” says Mertz, who calls Eadie his “right-hand man.”

Eadie is primarily responsible for purchasing and managing the company’s large inventory of parts and materials. His value is two-fold. Because Eadie formerly worked as a salesman for several plumbing distributors and manufacturers, he knows the ins and outs of purchasing and dealing with vendors. And, by no longer being involved with those duties, Mertz gains more time to meet with customers, visit job sites and do what he enjoys most — actual plumbing work.

“I’ve never had time to figure out how much money Rob saves us, but I know I’m ahead of the game,” Mertz says. “With Rob, we can buy more and spend less.

“Overall, I felt like my time was better spent doing (plumbing) work and meeting with customers, as opposed to meeting with vendors. I’m a blue-collar guy. I like to do what I do best.”

The company orders $20,000 to $30,000 worth of parts and materials a week, ranging from water heaters, faucets and toilets to pipes, pipe fittings and pea gravel for pipeline replacement projects. As such, efficient inventory management is critical to productivity. To make ordering as efficient as possible, parts bins are labeled with bar codes that match with supply house SKU numbers. When Eadie sees that something needs replenishing, he simply scans a bar code with a smart phone, then texts an order to a supply house.

To boost the company’s bottom line, Mertz Plumbing buys parts and materials in bulk whenever possible. “We buy, say, 100 water heaters at a time to save money,” Mertz says. “We save about $20 a heater.”

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