John “Jay” DeFrates founded Jay’s Plumbing after receiving his state plumbing license in 2001. His plumbing education didn’t stop there, though — in addition to being a licensed Cross-Connection Control Device Inspector, State Certified Plumbing Inspector and a Construction Confined Space Competent Person, he is also Viega Pro Press-certified, Lead Safety-certified, and certified as an Excavation Safety Competent Person.

He has also been a Continuing Education instructor at the Building and Fire Code Academy and is an active member of the Illinois State Board of Plumbing Examiners. He is an approved Illinois Department of Public Health Continuing Education course sponsor as well as a state and national member of PHCC and a national member of QSC. The role he spends most of his time in is current Treasurer/Secretary of the Illinois Plumbing Inspectors Association.

“It is very important to me — and should be to other trades people — to actively support apprentices for the future of our trades,” DeFrates says. “I believe if you are able to give back to others by teaching or volunteering, you should. Being and belonging to various groups can help you with buying power and rebates or can be just a place to start when you are trying to grow your business in different areas. Also, and most importantly, a lot of these groups have a voice in government to help shape the future of our industry, standardize codes, etc.”

Jay’s Plumbing has transitioned from high-end plumbing remodels to be a dedicated service and sewer plumber. They service a 20-miles radius surrounding Downers Grove (a Western suburb of Chicago). The company has 13 employees and 10 vehicles — one Chevy HHR, four Box Trucks, four Cargo Vans, and one Ranger truck. Out of the 10, six are wrapped and feature a character version of DeFrates in uniform. ER2 Image Group in Bloomingdale worked on the wrap.

“We have a mix of box trucks, all either 1-ton Ford or Chevy cabs,” DeFrates notes. “We have Supreme boxes with outside bins on both sides and some with bins on only one side. My favorite is probably the Chevy cab with bins only on the driver’s side. We just got this truck outfitted with special bins and racks from American Van Equipment.

“In the past, we basically just worked with standard stock shelves. I was very happily surprised to see how compact and organized the back is with specific shelves, racks, drawers, bin holders, etc. I have to admit it is well worth the expense of the equipment and the additional labor it took to set everything up for our plumber to be both more organized and have the luxury of extra space.”

In addition to traditional ads and social media, DeFrates maintains a constant weekly position in the local newspaper and its affiliated websites and aims to be top of mind with his neighbors and community businesses.

“We also capitalized on our business’ location on a very busy street by getting a variance to install a monument sign with space for zip-track lettering,” he says. “This sign and the slogans/phrases that we put on it on a weekly basis have become something our customers look forward to. We get constant feedback about the funny, current or socially relevant things we put on it.”