GET TO KNOW FRESNO PLUMBING
Fresno Plumbing & Heating Inc is the epitome of a successful family-run business. Over the course of the company's 70+ years, it has had its share of twists and turns, but today business is booming and Fresno Plumbing has grown into a thriving leader in the industry – one that is truly an innovator, community partner and advocate for cultivating the next generation of talent.
In 1978, the Kumpe family (Andrew, Wilma, and their sons – Gary, Larry, and Dean), bought the company from the prior owners. At the time of the purchase, the only part of the plumbing and hardware business still operating was an ACE hardware store. The Kumpes incorporated in 1981 and continued to grow the business.
Larry, now the President of Fresno Plumbing & Heating and Dean, the company's Secretary Treasurer, come from a construction family. Their dad was a buyer for a major construction company in Los Angeles and the boys worked for their father until 1967, at which point they went into the plumbing industry. When the family moved to Fresno, they were confident they could stay busy and make a go of it. They started out doing small service work with a single Ford Courier pickup and no other employees out in the field, just a couple of people in the hardware side of the business.
GROWING THE BUSINESS
Larry often wondered, “How hard can this be?” After all, he had worked for big players like GM, Busch Gardens and major plants doing large piping and steam fitting projects. Back at the hardware store, they would be asked if they could do installations and they always said no. But as customers kept asking, Larry went out and got his contractor's license. His wife, Debbie Kumpe, the office manager, recollects, “Larry would be sitting out in the truck, reading the instruction manual on how to install a water heater. That's how it started.”
Fresno Plumbing & Heating Inc now has a staff of 227 at their Fresno location. The company handles both commercial and residential projects; current commercial accounts for about 60%, which included medical facilities, shopping centers, office buildings, and schools. They will travel up and down the Valley and the coast, taking on any plumbing project imaginable. They've also embraced design-build, CAD, BIM and have someone who is LEED-certified on staff.
SERVICE AND QUALITY
As for the company's driving philosophy, the sign on display for 25 years out front of the shop says it all: “Why not get the best?” As Larry attests, “We believe in doing it right the first time. Most of our customer base is repeat business. We treat people like we'd like to be treated. We're not looking to be the biggest plumber, but we do want to be the best. Quality is our number one issue.”Chris Kirk, Fresno Plumbing's Service Manager, adds that they have one of the best warranties in the industry. He notes, “You can always call the office and someone will take your call, listen to your story and help you out.”
BUILDING THE FUTURE
One of the main tenets of Fresno Plumbing & Heating Inc is to build the future of the industry, starting with their own team. They acknowledge it can be a challenge finding qualified employees. As older plumbers retire, there is a need to fill the void with new plumbers up to the task. In order to ensure their workers possess the skill sets needed to live up to Fresno Plumbing's work ethic, they have incorporated apprenticeships and training sessions into their business model. They have apprentices that work for them from state-approved PHCC and NorCal ABC programs and also offer in-house training, which includes plumbing code classes, water heater installation, soldering, and copper-work, to name a few areas. Additionally, about 60 staff members are OSHA-certified. The company holds sexual harassment classes and does CPR certification training for those who need it.
Fresno Plumbing provides their workers with great benefits and, not surprisingly, many have been with the company for more than 20 years. But Fresno Plumbing even goes one step further, often hiring from organizations that offer people a “second chance,” such as those coming out of the prison system or at-risk youths who may have been in gangs. Fresno Plumbing & Heating Inc is very much into community welfare, helping as many people as possible to find good jobs and giving them the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their families. They know that when they help someone, that person will likely be a lifetime employee.