Contractors consistently complain about the lack of skilled labor in the trades industry. Sam Dowdy, with S&D Plumbing in Taylor, Texas, is doing something about it. His labor of love, the Plumbing Pipeline Program (PPP), has captured the attention of many in the construction industry.
An overview video of the Plumbing Pipeline Program
Sam started S&D Plumbing, with his wife Rhonda, in 1980. His sons have since joined the business and the family operates the company together to provide quality service to the Greater Austin area. During the decades of operating S&D Plumbing, Sam identified a systematic problem with finding, hiring and retaining quality skilled employees. He created the Plumbing Pipeline Program (PPP) as a means to go into the community and recruit young people to the trades, much like colleges, universities and the military.
In Texas, the average age of a Master Plumber is 58 years old. For every four plumbers that leave the industry, only one apprentice is filling their work boots. As contractors, we need these young people to consider plumbing a viable option for their future and the future of the trades.
Dowdy admits, “This program is all about youth, the youth in the community.” By targeting high school youth in his community, his program allows these students to apprentice at his plumbing company to learn basic skills of the trade. At orientation he proposes to the students that choosing the trades as your career path is, “a different way of doing things, without spending a lot of money.” Students are able to participate in the trade and gain an accurate concept of what it’s like to work for a professional plumbing company.
With the support of the PHCC of Texas, Sam created the Plumbing Pipeline Program to create awareness of the trades as a valuable and lucrative career option. The PHCC also helped to create an informative video about the Program (see above).
Dowdy hopes to “dispel the myth of the butt crack plumber.” He realizes that communication is the key to ensuring the longevity of the plumbing trade. By reaching out to Counselors, Educators and School Districts, Dowdy has created a pipeline for students to transition from high school, to a full-time apprenticeship upon graduation. At the same time, Dowdy has worked to address the problem with lacking skilled workers. He’s recruiting and training his workforce for the future.
For more information go to www.PlumbingPipelineProgram.com.
Allie Perez is director of operations, Mr. Plumber / Mr. AC, San Antonio (http://www.mrplumbersa.com). Her interesting viewpoints on the trades can be found on her blog at http://www.mrplumbersa.com/blog. She also is founder of Texas Women in the Trades (TWIT). Visit texaswomenintrades.com.