Last fall, a generous plumbing contractor in Las Vegas allowed me to park a trailer-load of four-wheelers in his backyard. It was an incredible backyard. I’ll be happy to tell you his name, but I’m about to tell you about his son.
Don’t get me wrong. His son is a great guy, and maybe some of you have a son like this.
On the day we showed up, having traveled some 1,700 miles to ride into the desert, we came ready to park the trailer for a couple of days while we attended a conference downtown.
The contractor’s son, a very nice young man about 22 years old, came out of the house to punch in the code for the backyard parking area. We pulled in, and I backed up my trailer between a very nice fifth-wheel camper and some yard equipment. While enjoying the October Nevada sunshine, we began a light-hearted conversation with our host. I asked him if he was working for his dad.
Actually, it was the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, so I wondered why he was home while the family was working. He said he was playing video games as he had the afternoon off from his college classes. Knowing his brothers were plumbers, I asked him if he planned to join the family business after college. He was quite adamant that, no, he wouldn’t be doing that. He further went on to explain the characteristics of his family.
“Dad is a plumber,” he said. “Dad loves plumbing. There is nothing else dad wants to do. My brother is a plumber. My brother loves plumbing. There is nothing my brother would rather do, either.”
I could see where this was going, so I prodded him a little.
“If I had to guess,” I said, “I’d say you have probably done a little plumbing, too.”
“Oh, yes,” he replied. “Here’s how it always went. Dad would get us out to a job in the summers and on weekends. He’d give us both shovels, and away we’d go, digging ditches for pipes in the hot sun with temperatures above 100 degrees. My brother would sing. My dad would smile. They loved it, they really did. I’d be like, ‘What’s wrong with these people? They are crazy. They like this.’ Not me. First chance I got I signed up for college, and I’m taking computers and gaming, nothing that would make me valuable to a plumbing company.”
My wife and I both laughed about this and have had several discussions about it since. This was me 40 years ago. My dad was an electrician. My brothers were electricians. They had me crawling through two-foot drifts of fiberglass in attics just to get another wire in a bedroom so some teenage girl could plug in her new hair dryer.
I swore I’d never be an electrician. And If I had to guess, I’d bet I’m not the only one here that had a similar experience.
For me, it came down to feeding my family or starving, so after a short break, back into it I went. I’m glad I did. I love skilled labor. I’ve since owned an electrical business, a plumbing business and an HVAC business. I’ve struggled like many of you, and I’ve seen my share of successes like many of you. So, when I think of the benefit of contractor services, I start with me, my family, and so many of you who are highly respected, highly skilled problem solvers in your community.
My son asked me yesterday, “Dad do you remember Bob who was a copy machine salesman when you hired him? You changed his life.”
I asked him what he meant.