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“It’s our customer service. And our employees. And our pricing structure. And we don’t keep customers waiting for hours for someone to show up – we schedule appointments.”
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Unter should know. He worked for two large Northern Colorado plumbing companies starting in 1993 before founding Aggie Plumbing & Service. While he was learning the skills that earned him his master plumber license, Unter was observing how the plumbing business worked (or didn’t work) and began making notes. He saw a big gap between standard of service and upper management’s desire to increase the profit margin.
It was this observation and his notes that helped him develop a customer-focused business model when he finally struck out on his own in 2005 with just himself and one other employee.
Now, nine years later, “We’re cruising right along,” Unter said.
Cruising may be a bit of an understatement. In three years, Aggie Plumbing and Service has gone from two employees – Unter and his wife, Melissa – to nine people on staff. Revenues have grown during the same time frame from $360,000 to $1.645 million.
“We started this company right at the downturn of the economy, so we had nowhere else to go but up,” said Unter.
For Unter, the reasons behind his company’s success are a return to old-fashioned values and delivering quality service at a fair price. Most repair jobs can be done in less than an hour or two. The Aggie Plumbing & Service team charges by the hour, plus the cost of materials and parts. It’s that straightforward.
It also has been about building relationships and referrals. Aggie Plumbing & Service specializes in all aspects of the plumbing business, from working with commercial and residential new construction to commercial property owners and managers as well as homeowners looking to fix a pesky leak, install a new hot water heater, gas lines or a sprinkler system.
With the improving economy and new construction starts, Unter is facing a problem. He can’t find enough talented, quality plumbers to build up his staff and take on as many projects as he would like. Many of the people who would be firing off resumes to him are taking advantage of the oil boom and opting into that industry instead. It’s the biggest hurdle he faces while planning a growth strategy.
“We take a lot of pride in the fact, that as a small company, we offer all of our employees health insurance and contribute to their retirement plans,” said Unter. “It all goes back to those core values. We take care of our people and they take care of our customers.”