Robert Hicks, owner of Benton, La.-based Speedway Plumbing, opened his business in January 2012. He got started in the business 18 years ago, when he was 22. After high school, Hicks got a job at a temp agency, which in turn placed him as a plumber’s apprentice with a local plumbing company. He was mentored by the owner and decided to go for his journeyman’s license.

“It has become a passion of mine to help people when they are in need and I thoroughly enjoy the field of customer service,” Hicks says. Thirteen years later, he ventured on to receive his master plumber’s license.

With his entrepreneurial spirit, Hicks decided to open his own business at the age of 36. He does service, repair and remodeling of residential buildings in Benton, Shreveport, Bossier and the surrounding communities. “It is just me and my 2012 Nissan High Roof NV,” Hicks says. “I love my truck because it is a mini warehouse on wheels. It has a state-of-the-art navigation system, Bluetooth, custom shelving, good gas mileage and plenty of head room where you can stand up. I don’t have to tear up my knees and back to get to supplies and materials.”

Hicks wanted to turn heads with his truck. Looking for something different and eye-catching, he decided to use bold, bright colors. “When my wife, Jennifer, and I were talking about the idea of a plumbing company, my son, Dylan, wanted to give his input,” Hicks explains. “He threw out the idea of a fast, racing toilet. He was six at the time and into the whole cartoon thing and loved racing. So we knew if we got the kids to look, moms and dads would look, too.”

And with the help of Bossier, La.-based Signarama, Zipper, the Racing Toilet was created.

Signarama also wrapped the original truck, a 2001 Dodge Ram Quad Cab with ARE work cap. Due to the company’s fast-growing customer base, that truck was put aside for a bigger, more efficient truck. Hick says he will use it again when employees are added to meet the needs of his growing business.

Discount Signs in Bossier wrapped the Nissan. “People love it,” Hicks says. “It does exactly what I wanted — it turns heads. Kids especially love it and have even asked for a toy racing toilet that matches the one on the wrap. I’ve even had people take pictures of my truck.” Due to the kids’ interest in the character, Hicks and his wife have talked about trying to find a company to patent and design a toy Zipper.

Being a one-man operation, Hicks answers the company’s phone and makes first contact with every customer that calls. “Customer service is what sets a company apart,” Hicks notes. “Answering my own calls gives me a chance to earn a homeowner’s business and turn him into a lifetime, loyal customer.”