This Second-Generation Plumber’s Advice for Building a Successful Plumbing Career
In our A Career in Plumbing series, we talk to plumbers about how they got started in the industry, their passions and how they’re approaching the future of the trade. Next up is Peter Joseph, licensed master plumber and owner of Two7 Plumbing in Newnan, Georgia.
1. Tell us about your plumbing career, from your first exposure to the trade to training and all the way up to where you are now.
My dad is a plumber and would take me on jobs with him when I was a kid. As far back as I can recall, if I wasn’t working, I was watching and learning.
Eventually I went to work for him full time. I helped him build a larger business to provide for his family without him having to work before I started my own small company for myself.
2. How did working with your dad shape your experience with the trade? What were the most important lessons your learned from him?
Having grown up in the industry with my dad, I learned firsthand that being a plumber is an honorable profession. Sometimes society looks down on us because we don’t work a traditional desk job, but my dad showed me that you can have a very fulfilling life taking care of your family by taking care of the needs of others.
He always taught me the value of not only hard work, but high-quality work. One thing he said many times is, “There is a right way to something and there is a wrong way to do something.” It was very important to him to make sure we did our task the right way, regardless of if the easier, wrong way would be “good enough.” That is something that has stuck with me as well and has become the heart of how I now operate my own company.
3. How does plumbing allow you to exercise your strengths?
Running my own plumbing company allows me the freedom to specialize in what I do best. I’m able to provide top quality service to my customers by taking on the jobs I’ve elected to train specifically for.
Being my own boss also means having the ability to pick my own material and methods of installation. This all adds up to my ability to offer a high-end solution with long-term peace of mind.
4. What are the biggest challenges and rewards of working in plumbing, based on your experience?
The biggest challenges I’ve encountered typically are the jobs where I’m going behind another installer to correct their work. By the time I get called in, these jobs are usually so butchered that they become much larger than they otherwise needed to be and often require much more thought and consideration for proper re-installation.
Likewise, the biggest rewards often come from these same jobs. When you successfully accomplish a professional solution to a job that was a real head-scratcher, you feel very proud of your accomplishments.
5. How have you seen plumbing evolve over the years? What excites you and worries you the most about the future of the trade?
Regarding the evolution of plumbing, we’ve seen many manufacturers working to design more user-friendly products. We’ve got brands like SharkBite that create push-style fittings. Another product, PEX piping, is ideal for lots of scenarios where you can’t easily use rigid pipe material, and there are now multiple high-quality systems that are compatible with copper piping that do not require a torch. My lungs appreciate not having to constantly breathe in those fumes!
We’re also constantly coming up with safer systems. There is now less lead in our products than ever before, and companies like Cash Acme offer options to help ensure we don’t have bacterial buildup in our water tanks.
If there is anything that worries me about the future of the trade, it’s that we are currently losing more plumbers than we are taking in. There are already more jobs to go around than there are plumbers able to accept them. At the current rate, this is only going to get worse.
Read more: The Plumbing Labor Shortage: Causes, Effects & Innovative Solutions
6. How did you, as an essential worker, navigate the pandemic last year and were there any key takeaways from that season?
The COVID-19 outbreak was scary for everyone and certainly required me to rethink the way I was doing business. I began wearing a mask to each job — I still do, in fact — and initially only accepted urgent jobs, while offering to walk customers through anything DIY friendly. I actually posted tutorials on my YouTube channel for many of the simple jobs that I would get.
As it became clear that COVID wasn’t going to disappear right away, I ultimately went back to running calls as usual, while continuing to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), but my wife and I still monitor the COVID situation carefully. The two of us are vaccinated, but we have a little girl at home who we love dearly and want to do everything in our power to keep her safe.
I’m not yet at a point where I can say if any particular business changes made because of COVID will be permanent. I’m still exercising safety measures and constantly following the updates from the medical community. Perhaps one day when COVID is truly a thing of the past, these additional safety measures may be too.
Watch: Other plumbing pros share how they were handling times of uncertainty during a pandemic.
7. What are you passionate about outside of your craft?
When I’m not plumbing, I enjoy playing my electric guitar. I’ve been playing guitar for over 15 years now, and it brings a lot of fulfillment to my life. I also enjoy kayaking with my family. We often go to local lakes but have traveled a bit outside of our hometown to check out other cool locations to kayak as well.
8. Why should people consider a job in plumbing? What does it take to succeed in this field? And what advice would you give to someone interested in entering plumbing?
In my opinion, there are a lot of reasons to consider a career in plumbing. I feel like people sometimes have a negative outlook on plumbing as if it’s a lower choice option that one should choose only as a last result. This couldn’t be further from the truth though.
I absolutely love what I do! While there are many different facets of the industry, I selected residential service plumbing. I get to work with my hands and tackle a different job every day. I’m at multiple homes each day, which really makes the time fly. I enjoy working with my hands to solve a problem for someone. Most plumbers get paid very well, and they even get paid to learn. If this sounds like an enjoyable career, that’s because it is!
As long as you have a good work ethic, show up on time and do what you say you will, you’ll go very far in this industry.
Read More: 3 Plumbers Share Career Milestones & Advice for Other Pros
9. How did you first hear about SharkBite? Which products do you use today and in which applications?
I actually don’t remember the first time that I heard of SharkBite, but since I’ve basically grown up in this industry, I know it was quite some time ago. Today I use the SharkBite brass push fittings as a transition between pipe materials, depending on the situation at hand.
It’s my personal opinion that SharkBite is the best option when transitioning away from polybutylene, as the push fittings won’t stress and strain the piping by crimping onto it. I’m also not a fan of CPVC piping and will typically use a SharkBite fitting to transition to something better. SharkBite EvoPEX™ fittings are great too! I use them frequently when working with PEX piping.
Explore more reasons to have a career in plumbing, whether you’re interested in entering the trade or you’re looking for a resource you can share to get more people interested.