Photo credit: Mike Diack
Mike Diack put his 2008 federal tax refund to good use.
Diack took the $5,000-and-change check and used the majority of it to purchase a used 2001 Chevy Astro cargo van. That was the start of Woodmere, N.Y.-based Pipe Doctor Plumbing, Heating & Air, which now serves Nassau County and the Rockaway Peninsula on Long Island.
“I paid $2,500 for the truck and bought a little material, advertised on the Internet and wrapped my truck with a vinyl wrap,” he explains.
These days, The Pipe Doctor has a pair of 2010 Ford E150s and a 2011 Ford E150 on the road. The Astro van has since been retired. “I like the Fords because of the service availability from the dealership, competitive pricing and the shelving system,” the 35-year-old Diack says. “They are workhorse trucks that came at a fair price.
“There is a lot of room inside. We do a good job with truck organization. We change out the material and don’t keep unnecessary material. During the heating season, we’ll keep four circulators and then only stock one in the summer. About 99% of the time, the parts are on the truck that will get the job done so we don’t have to go to the supply house, which defeats the purpose of being an emergency repair company.”
Pipe Doctor’s business is 80% residential and 20% commercial, with 95% of total work focusing on service/repair and the remaining 5% on new construction/alterations. Diack has long been a proponent of truck wrappings, which he utilizes with good success on his fleet.
Photo credit: Mike Diack
“The company I previously worked at had a wrap on a truck,” he says. “I liked the idea. A few years ago, nobody really had wraps. It was just basic lettering. A wrap is a moving billboard. You can pay $3,000 a month for a train trestle or you can wrap your truck for $3,000 total. It’s a moving, low-cost advertising option.”
Diack, who almost exclusively advertises on the Internet to great success (about 2,000 calls a year for new business from Internet advertising, he says), made sure the local wrapping company (a Sign Zoo third-party installer) included numerous concepts on the trucks - several awards and distinctions the company has earned, a photo of a young family outside its home, as well as featuring a medical theme (note the EKG readout and universal medical symbol with a pipe wrench inside it).
“It was perfectly incorporated,” he says. “Our phone number is featured prominently and it tells you what we do. It’s eye-catching. I was just in the Bronx doing a job and had at least 20 people asking for a card. It’s a good conversation piece.”
Getting the word out about his company isn’t the only thing Diack is passionate about. “I started this company with the promise of being a 24-hour service company with a 110% unconditional customer satisfaction guarantee. We deliver on it day after day,” he says. “I advertise that we’re available 24 hours a day and I pick up the phone at 3 a.m. because we’re a 24-hour-a-day service company.”