Bob Beall began his plumbing career working in his father's Cleveland plumbing business. He attended Cleveland State University and learned the business of business. He earned his Plumbing Master License in Ohio. And he decided that he wanted something more than his dad's small, 1 1/2-truck operation.
So when Beall met his wife Carol, he asked her if she wanted to go into the plumbing business. In 1994, they started B&C Plumbing in Cleveland. It was slow going at first, but eventually the business grew. After a few years they decided to sell the company to Rescue Rooter, a division of consolidator ServiceMaster. After working for them a while, he decided to quit and start something new.
The Bealls then bought a Mr. Rooter franchise in the Pittsburgh area, which serves the southwest corner of Pennsylvania. The company made a profit of $9,000 on more than $53,000 in sales the first month. That was with three trucks. Now the company has 30 trucks and about 40 employees -- and it is on pace to do $4 million in sales this year.
So what makes this story so special? Beall was born blind; he has some sight but is considered legally blind.
A Little Help From My FriendsBeall has been able to build a thriving business despite his blindness because he refuses to be held back by his disability. And he's always had the support of his family. He learned the trade from his father and always completed the labor himself. When getting to jobsites was a problem, Carol would drive him.
He also has balanced his personal and professional lives: Beall and his wife have fostered 15 children over the years, and have adopted three.
With the success of his Mr. Rooter franchise operation, Beall no longer goes out on service calls, but that doesn't mean he's let his skills go to waste. After passing his Plumbing Master License test in Pennsylvania, he is now a licensed master plumber in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Beall attributes part of his success to the people at Mr. Rooter.
"The Mr. Rooter game has been good for me," he told PM. "The corporate support is wonderful, and I have had a phenomenal mentor in Robert Tunmire [vice president of The Dwyer Group, parent company of Mr. Rooter]."
The great thing about owning a franchise is that you have the ability to work on your business, not in your business, he says. And Mr. Rooter, along with his business education, gives him all the tools he needs to do that.
Beall is a "big advocate" of jetting, and almost every truck comes equipped with a jetter. The company does a lot of excavation work, so Beall set up two excavation crews.
While 90 percent of the franchise's calls are residential, Beall wants the company to be the No. 1 choice among commercial owners in his area. He continually strives to be better than his competition, to be recognized as the best.
Sometimes persistence pays off: In 2001, Beall was named Mr. Rooter's Rookie of the Year.
His advice? "No matter what you do in life, there's always something you want to do different. But don't look back. Keep focused on the future."