In 1969, Ray Haymer was a 20-something union plumber, husband, and father working in Cleveland, where new-construction work was slowing down at the same time his family was growing.
Knowing he needed to make a change, he founded Campbell Plumbing & Drain Cleaning in Eastlake, Ohio. The company was incorporated in 1985 serves a 30-mile radius that includes parts of Ohio’s Lake, Geauga and Cuyahoga counties.
“My father was primarily raised by his grandmother, and he named the company after her,” says Scott Haymer, a second-generation plumber and co-owner of Campbell Plumbing. “My father is a self-made man who works hard and plays hard. He has learned how to do navigate a business without any help from higher education. I think he is originator of the Mike Rowe saying, ‘Not all knowledge comes from college.’”
Campbell Plumbing is truly a family company, owned and operated by Scott and Ray Haymer.
Scott Haymer says his father runs the office side of the business while he runs the day-to-day operations and makes service calls. Other staff members include two plumbers as well as a student who “is currently in technical high school and works for us on large jobs during school or on the weekends, though this summer he is here full-time,” Scott Haymer says.
The company performs 80% residential and 20% commercial work, including plumbing, drain cleaning, hydrojetting, Picote descaling, lining, pipe bursting and septic repairs.
“We do zero new construction work,” Scott Haymer says. “We really like drain cleaning. It’s rewarding, and people really appreciate being able to flush their toilets.”
Campbell’s fleet includes a 2017 G4500 Chevy Cube van 6.0 liter gas with a 17-foot Unicell Aerocell box, a 2006 Chevy 6.0 liter with a 14-foot Unicell Classic box that will soon be replaced with a 2019 Chevy with a 17-foot Unicell aerocell box, a 2018 Chevy 1-ton express 6.0L with long wheel base, and a 2009 Chevy ¾-ton shorty van.
The company also has a Spartan Warrior trailer jetter with 4,000 psi and 18 gpm capacity, though the crown jewel of the Campbell Plumbing fleet is the newly repainted miniature 2018 Chevy lookalike van with a 6.5 hp motor and top speed of 25 mph.
“This, by far, is our coolest truck ever,” Scott Haymer jokes. “It’s used for parades.”
Campbell’s trucks are custom-built by Mike Rus from Custom Construction and hand-painted by Rudy Lucursi of RL Signs.
“People are amazed that our trucks are not wrapped and that they are hand-painted,” Scott Haymer says. “No wraps here, ever. Rudy is an amazing talent.”
He says the makeover has worked wonders, and now customers say they see Campbell’s trucks “everywhere.”
“Then they ask how many trucks we you have. When I tell them ‘two service trucks,’ they are usually shocked because sometimes they see us multiple times a day.”
The matching custom-painted Camp-bell go-kart has also been a wise investment, he adds.
“This thing gets so much attention at parades or even when we take it around the block. Just recently we did a local parade, and when I had the go-kart parked, every dad stuck their kid in it and lots of people posted and shared it on Facebook. It was really remarkable to see this unfold. We only made the go-kart so our kids can participate in parade, and it’s a cool to look at.”
This article was originally titled “Handmade marketing” in the August 2018 print edition of Plumbing & Mechanical.