Imagine threading or welding 4″ carbon steel pipes, 40 feet in the air. Sounds difficult, time-consuming and potentially dangerous. All those pitfalls were avoided when a crew in Michigan used Viega MegaPressG fittings to pipe a new bean-roasting facility. The result was clean, attractive piping, a quick turnaround on project time, plus happy workers and Read more
Imagine threading or welding 4″ carbon steel pipes, 40 feet in the air. Sounds difficult, time-consuming and potentially dangerous.
All those pitfalls were avoided when a crew in Michigan used Viega MegaPressG fittings to pipe a new bean-roasting facility. The result was clean, attractive piping, a quick turnaround on project time, plus happy workers and owners.
Viega recently added MegaPressG fittings in sizes 2½” to 4″ to its lineup, and Schreiner Mechanical out of Frankenmuth, Michigan, was the first to install them, putting a couple dozen of the larger-diameter fittings into a new build in Gilford.
The project that Steve Schreiner, owner of Schreiner Mechanical, and his crew went to work on was a soybean-processing facility. The soybeans are roasted and crushed, then the oil is removed and used for biodiesel fuel and other applications. The remaining product is used to feed dairy cattle, leaving zero waste.
“What the plant does is unbelievable,” Schreiner said. “It’s favorable to the economy, and the oil can be used for several different products. There’s no waste.”
At first, Schreiner Mechanical was asked to do some plumbing in the office of the plant. Then the project, and need for Viega fittings, started to grow. The contractor was tasked with creating a gas main and system
to supply the gas for the burners that roast the soybeans, plus they needed to plan for the plant’s future growth.
“The burners that are used are about 12 million BTU each, so they needed a high-pressure gas system in the plant feeding these machines,” Schreiner said. “That’s quite a large capacity, and in the future they’ll potentially have three more of these burners, so this gas system had to be designed to feed a tremendously large system.”
To do that, Schreiner Mechanical created a manifold with 4″ gas lines. Those lines work their way down to 2″ in size throughout the plant. It was the perfect place to put MegaPressG in larger-diameter sizes to work.
“Lines run throughout the plant for gas feeding the furnaces and rooftop units feeding other areas of the building,” Schreiner said. “There is probably about 500 feet of gas line with Viega fittings in this building.”
Schreiner will tell you he is “a Viega guy,” and when he began working on this project he was excited to hear that MegaPressG fittings in the larger sizes were on their way to market.
“If we’d had to thread this, it would have changed the whole philosophy on how to do things,” Schreiner said. “It would have made things 10 times more difficult, being 40 feet in the air, so we would have had to change the installation, plus it would have tripled or quadrupled the labor intensity. We’re talking about lift rentals and all things that come into play, plus the costs incurred for that, if we’d done it a different way than pressing. Threaded pipe would have been absurd.
“I’m excited that by using MegaPressG on this project, it was a time saver, a labor saver and safer than welding. The injury factor that can come up with different products is much bigger than with pressing. We would have had guys on the ground cutting and pre-fabbing pieces and then going up and down, but pressing in the air is much easier.”
In addition to providing the gas to the burners for the roasting in the plant, 2″ carbon steel lines with MegaPress fittings were also used for the oil line, moving the extracted crude oil from the beans into tanks.
Schreiner’s team is set up with Ridgid tools, and he said he feels that Ridgid and Viega together are the perfect combination.
“The Ridgid tool was a huge part of this successful application,” he said. “I’m passionate about the products I use, and when I find a good one, I stick with it.”
Viega District Manager Mike Norgan brought out the MegaPress XL PressBooster tool for Schreiner’s crew to use on the larger-diameter MegaPressG fittings, and Schreiner said it was simple to use.
“There was nothing more than smiles after using the tool,” he said. “Along with the large-diameter rings, it was easy and not cumbersome to use. Being able to press 12 or 14 large fittings in less than an hour is unbelievable.
“I tell people, ‘Look at what can be done [using Viega products]. This can be you and it’s this easy,’” he added. “Everybody’s hands are clean, there are no contaminants in the system, and there’s a lot to be said about that, having a contaminant-free system. When you have solder or threading oils or shavings, you have a high chance of contaminants, but with Viega, that chance is zero. I just cannot say enough about Viega. What we accomplished on this project with it is amazing.”
Earning a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, Michael Flynn’s (@flynnstone1) career path took an unexpected turn. “I fell ass-backward into the trade,” says Flynn. Early on, Flynn worked as pool lifeguard for six years, and, at the time, he knew a family that owned a plumbing and HVAC business. “They asked me to come Read more
Earning a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, Michael Flynn’s (@flynnstone1) career path took an unexpected turn. “I fell ass-backward into the trade,” says Flynn. Early on, Flynn worked as pool lifeguard for six years, and, at the time, he knew a family that owned a plumbing and HVAC business. “They asked me to come on as a helper and driver, and they said I could go on my interviews and take care of my criminal justice stuff any time I needed.”
After realizing that he wasn’t getting hired due to the job shortage in 2008, Flynn focused all of his energy on the trade; he started paying more attention because this was his new career path.
When the guy Flynn was driving for left that company a year and a half later, Flynn’s boss at the time threw him the keys and told him to hop in the truck. “Needless to say, I was shaking in my boots. I was super nervous to run my own truck and service calls. Yet the boss told me to call him anytime I needed help to describe what I was looking at. The dude was a genius; he helped me fix it every time, and this was before FaceTime and good quality phone pictures, lol,” says Flynn.
With this new-found confidence instilled by his boss, it finally clicked in Flynn’s head that he could succeed in the field. Then, a self-inflicted roadblock. Flynn got a DUI and the company couldn’t keep him on, which inevitably led him on the path to sobriety. “I’m going to be four years sober on the 19th of this month,” says Flynn.
Searching for new work, he worked for a company for six months and eventually moved to another company. “That company’s boss taught me a lot about the business aspect of the trade, and he was super hard on me to succeed. Because of that, I did 1/2 million in sales for him on the service side in one year.”
Eventually, Flynn sought an opportunity to advance his career and he moved to the company he is at now, Service Professionals, Union, New Jersey, to do installs. Working with Service Professionals for the past six years, Flynn wears many hats and has multiple responsibilities. “I am a lead installer for residential installations for plumbing and boiler service, and I oversee all operations on the jobsite, and entire projects. I’m also a field supervisor, and take care of warranty issues, difficult service calls, and sometimes oversee other installs that I am not even a part of,” says Flynn.
The last few months have been rather difficult, but lately business has picked back up. When COVID-19 first started here in the states, work was extremely slow, says Flynn. The company had to lay off a few installers—some who weren’t comfortable coming into work and some that just wanted to take off. “It was rough; fighting to get 25-30 hours a week when I’m normally at 50-60. People wouldn’t let us in the house. Now it has picked up because the weather is getting warmer and people need their AC. We are wearing masks and gloves, and asking customer to keep their distance when we are performing an install.”
Flynn owes much of his growth and success to his father. “I’m adopted, which can be tough for some people. He showed me the meaning of hard work, but most of all, he showed me the love and affection I needed,” says Flynn. “He told me that if I wanted something, I had to put in the work to get it, and I still carry that to this day.”
That hard work translates to happy customers. “I get the best feeling when a customer sees the finished install and says ‘wow’! Taking a really bad looking and terribly functioning system and turning it into gold is what I live for,” says Flynn.
Flynn’s advice to those considering the trades is to dive head first into the trade and don’t be afraid to ask questions. “The lead, boss, or owner knows a lot more than you will ever know. That doesn’t mean they are not willing to teach you what they know. Are a hands-on learner or a watch and learner? It helps so they can get you to a point where you can perform tasks on your own,” says Flynn.
While the job is very rewarding, it’s not all puppy dogs and rainbows. “It’s a rough and tough industry. You have to lift stuff, push stuff and pull stuff; that’s just the nature of the beast. But, it’s also extremely fun. We have a great time every day, whether it’s joking on the job site—while still getting work done—or problem solving in a customer’s home. It really is a great place to be.”
Yet, people have to know that the trade and industry is always changing, says Flynn. “My concern is people’s unwillingness to change with it and adapt. Some things never change. But some things are completely different. You have to look at things totally different now and be able to adapt. There is a lot of technology that can help people improve system performance, for example.”
According to Flynn, that excitement and visibility for the trades needs to start with shop classes in middle school and high school. For instance, recently Flynn was cleaning out his basement and found some woodworking projects he did in middle school. “I said to my wife, ‘Damn, I wish they had shop in high school.’ I might have been even further in my career if they did,” says Flynn.
Moreover, the trades need to more in the discussion as a viable option. “Everyone is pushing college, college, college when you can go to trade school and be debt-free. Don’t get me wrong, I benefited from college as far as knowledge and people skills, but I am not using that degree.”
Finding success in the trades does take time, hard work and dedication. And finding the right balance between home and work life can be difficult. “Balancing is hard, but it’s great for me because when I’m home, I’m home. I don’t have to go out. No on-call for me at all. There is an install weekend rotation, but that’s it. My wife knows that I am working very hard to provide so she doesn’t give me a hard time. If I know it’s going to be a long day, I let her know beforehand. She really is a great support for me. Communication is key to that, as well,” says Flynn.
In what spare time he has, Flynn enjoys reading and researching, BBQs and cookouts with family and friends, concerts and fishing trips. That researching includes scrolling through IG and absorbing as much information as he can. Social media has been a beneficial frontier for Flynn. “IG has been great for me. Connecting with everyone in the trades is incredible, and it really has helped me up my game on install with cleanliness and functionality. All of the tips and tricks is amazing.
I’ve also made some contacts with some tool companies, which is cool. Obviously, being part of the RIDGID Experience was one of the best things in my career, and I found out about that through Mechanical Hub!” says Flynn.
The last time Flynn said it was a great day? “It may sound cheesy, but every time I step back and look at a completed job that is running perfectly, I have a good day. I really do love what I do.”
Purpose. It is a powerful thing, and it can have a great influence on one’s life path. For Chris Ramos (@bold_cityplumber), he found purpose in his family and his work. You see, Ramos had rough upbringing, to say the least. Growing up in Ossining, N.Y., about 35 miles northeast of New York, Chris’s mother lost Read more
Purpose. It is a powerful thing, and it can have a great influence on one’s life path. For Chris Ramos (@bold_cityplumber), he found purpose in his family and his work. You see, Ramos had rough upbringing, to say the least. Growing up in Ossining, N.Y., about 35 miles northeast of New York, Chris’s mother lost her best friend and sister—his aunt—and had been in the middle of a divorce and custody battle with his father. Her life started to spiral out of control, and Chris took to the streets, dropped out of school at 16 years old, and made some bad decisions. “I was hard at listening and I just didn’t want to be at home,” says Ramos.
Meanwhile, Chris’s father, his grandparents and his cousin, Jay, would always tell him he needed to do something better with his life. “I just didn’t want to hear it; I was very upset with how things were at home,” recalls Ramos.
Eventually, at the age of 19, Ramos met his girlfriend and eventual wife, Laura. At the time, she had a 3-year-old boy named Derek. “After dating for awhile, I realized I wanted to be a big part of Derek’s life, and I wanted to be a father to him. Yet, I needed to change things with my life first,” says Ramos.
Ramos finally decided to start working different jobs and jumped around for a while until he bumped into a family friend named Dougie, who had been a plumber for many years. Remembering the advice from his cousin Jay, finding a trade could change his life for the better. “Jay was a big part of me turning my life around. Every time he saw me, he would say, ‘Chris, join the trades before you end up in jail or worse.’”
So, Ramos told Dougie he needed a change to make money and do better for himself, his girlfriend and her little boy. “Dougie encouraged me look in the local Penny Saver magazine and find an ad of a local company that was hiring apprentices/helpers. I called a company and asked if they were interviewing. They invited me to their location and hired me on the spot as an apprentice,” says Ramos.
Soon after, Ramos’s wife became pregnant with their daughter, Julianna. At the time, Chris and Laura were living in his grandparent’s house in a very tiny basement studio. “We knew it was time to move out and start our lives as a family in our own place. We decided to move to Florida, and we have lived here ever since, and have another son, Christian Jr.,” says Ramos.
While Ramos has been plumbing for most of the time in Florida, he did take a short break from plumbing to see if he wanted to do something different. “I went to work for FedEx but realized plumbing is where I needed to be. It is my passion.”
Currently, Ramos works for a small company that’s close to home. He is in charge of service plumbing as a residential plumber, which includes drain cleaning and sewer inspections. “I’ve been with this company for a few weeks as I recently made a job transition to be closer to home. This will help me be closer to my wife and kids throughout the day.”
Comfortable in his career, Ramos loves customer service, and the feeling when one is able to diagnose an issue and come up with a resolution and repair it, leaving a happy and satisfied customer. “The customer has paid you their hard-earned money; it is your duty to provide outstanding service and quality work. This will determine the longevity of your career in the trades. Your reputation and your integrity are important,” says Ramos.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been up and down, says Ramos. “Some customers don’t want you in their homes out of fear of getting the virus, understandably so. We make sure to use gloves, masks, shoes covers and eye protection. We dispose of the gloves and shoe covers after every job for the safety of our customers, and ourselves. We also call ahead to ask the customer if they have experienced any symptoms or have any underlying health conditions that could put them at risk.”
Uplifting the Trades
Ramos believes that the trades need more dedicated schools, and more talks with kids in high school to let them know that there are more options and alternatives. “Let’s introduce them to the trades and show them they could make a great living and earn a skill that no one can take from them. They will carry the skill with them for the rest of their lives.”
Ramos suggests to find a company that is offering a helper position or an apprenticeship program. “Be patient and soak in all the knowledge; stay off the phone while at work and bring a note pad. Stay focused, stay hungry and never become complacent. But always make sure to put family first.”
Lately, Ramos has been busy with his Boldcast Instagram Live show on Sunday nights. Ramos always wanted to put together a podcast as he’s been a fan for many years, and they have helped him get through his work days. “I was in the middle of putting together a podcast for audio podcast platforms until I started to talk with my buddies ProDrains and Quays Plumbing. They had thought about doing it on Instagram and I was offering my help anyway I could to get them started. One day, I went live with another friend of mine, The Impetus, and it started to take off. The next day I put together some promotional content and scheduled my very first live event,” says Ramos.
On his very first live show, so many big names from the community showed up and chatted with me. “It really helped the show take off. There wouldn’t be The Boldcast Live if it wasn’t for that first lineup of guests that showed up, without being scheduled. And, of course, the fans that viewed the show.”
The show has taught Ramos so many great things—from the awesome knowledge being put out there from every guest to learning how to become a great promoter and staying organized. “My goal has always been to give back to this community.”
Interestingly, at a very young age, Ramos has dealt with very bad anxiety issues. “Before every Boldcast Live event, I get sick to my stomach and have almost gotten sick during the show. I’ve got a great poker face, I guess. I’m working on these issues, and working on making life easier. The Boldcast has helped me break through it and face my fears,” says Ramos.
When he is not on the jobsite or working on his next Boldcast, Ramos likes to spend time with his wife and kids, and go to the beach or go fishing. He also enjoys video editing and graphic designing. “Do your absolute best to be there to be present for your wife and kids. You can never get back lost family time,” says Ramos.
In fact, when asked about the last time he said he had a great day, “I was spending time with my wife and kids, or plumbing. It’s what I know, it’s what I do, and it’s my passion.”
The Plastics Pipe Institute, Inc. (PPI) announced the winners of its Projects and Members of the Year program during its annual meeting held on May 5, 2020. A Project of the Year and a Member of the Year were selected for each of the five PPI divisions: Building and Construction, Drainage, Energy Piping Systems, Municipal Read more
The Plastics Pipe Institute, Inc. (PPI) announced the winners of its Projects and Members of the Year program during its annual meeting held on May 5, 2020. A Project of the Year and a Member of the Year were selected for each of the five PPI divisions: Building and Construction, Drainage, Energy Piping Systems, Municipal and Industrial plus Power and Communications. The meeting was conducted on-line due to the coronavirus pandemic. PPI is the major North American trade association representing all segments of the plastic pipe industry.
“This year was a little different for us because it was the first time we could not physically congratulate each winner,” stated PPI President David Fink. ”But just as in years past, the nominated projects in each of our five divisions were remarkable and the winners exceptional. It was a healthy competition, and that must be very satisfying to the winners.”
The association’s annual awards program recognizes projects and members for exceptional contributions to the industry. Submissions in the association’s divisions are reviewed, evaluated and voted upon by the PPI members.
The PPI winning projects and members are:
PPI Building & Construction Division Project of the Year
- Vancouver International Airport Geoexchange System, Vancouver, Canada
- PPI Member Company: Versaprofiles, Saint-Lazare-de Bellechasse, Canada
The Vancouver International Airport’s new Central Utilities Building (CUB) will improve efficiency by centralizing all of the equipment needed to meet the airport’s heating, cooling and electrical demand. To achieve this goal, the project will rely on one of the largest Geoexchange systems in Canada. Geoexchange technology uses the earth’s renewable energy, just below the surface, to heat or cool buildings. This system will provide sustainable heating and cooling for the terminal.
The borefield for the CUB Geoexchange system is substantial in size— 841 boreholes at 500 feet each in depth that equals 79.64 miles (420,500 feet) of drilled borehole and 159.28 miles (841,000 feet) of 1.25-inch HDPE 4710 piping. The Geoexchange system is expected to substantially reduce CO2 emissions from heating and cooling demands by 30 to 35 percent.
PPI Drainage Division Project of the Year
- Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal, North Charleston, South Carolina
- PPI Member Company: Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc., Hilliard, Ohio
The original storm drainage design for the new terminal incorporated reinforced concrete pipe and concrete box culverts. During the design phase of the project, the engineer became concerned about joint separation and the potential for infiltration due to predicted sub-surface soil settlement along the Cooper River. In order to mitigate joint separation and possible infiltration, Advanced Drainage Systems’ HP Storm Polypropylene Pipe was selected as the storm drain conveyance pipe for the entire project due to its ease of handling, extended joint, double gaskets, and flexible design. As a result of the redesign, some 27,000 feet of ADS HP STORM was used to convey all storm water on the 280+ acre site.
PPI Energy Piping Systems Division Project of the Year
- Henderson Municipal Gas (HMG) PA 12 Gas Pipe Installation, Henderson, Kentucky
- PPI Member Company: Teel Plastics, Inc., Baraboo, Wisconsin
In a multi-stage project, the City of Henderson, Kentucky installed 2,720 feet of polyamide 12 (PA 12) gas pipe extruded by Teel Plastics. This marked the first PA 12 installation under the PHMSA Mega Rule effective January 2019, which allows PA 12 to be installed without a special permit.
HMG installed the pipe through an industrialized area of the city. To minimize disruption to businesses, Henderson installed it underneath driveways and existing utilities. HMG buried sections using horizontal directional drilling (HDD), pulling the pipe through bored holes and fusing the sections together. More ductile and much lighter than steel, PA 12 made the HDD installation much easier than it would have been with steel pipe.
PPI Municipal & Industrial Division Project of the Year
- Colsman Tunnel Sewer Sliplining, Centennial, Colorado
- PPI Member Company: WL Plastics, Ft. Worth, Texas
To rehabilitate a deteriorating brick sewer, 48-diameter HDPE pipe was sliplined into the old sewer. Flow was not allowed to stop during the pull, so a custom completely sealed pull head had to be designed and built so that sewage would not fill the drill string during the pull in. Another restriction was that the staging area only allowed for no more than 200 feet of pipe to be out of the tunnel at once. So, the pipe string was pulled as each stick of pipe was fused and added to the string of pipe. Total pull length was more than 8,000 feet. Custom winch system was brought in for the heavy pull that included two spools of wire cable to get the length required.
PPI Power & Communications Division Project of the Year
- Alliant Energy Private Fiber Optic Network, Madison, Wisconsin
- PPI Member Company: Teel Plastics, Baraboo, Wisconsin
Teel conduit is being installed across Alliant’s service area in Iowa and Wisconsin to improve its telecom network’s security, speed, and reliability. For a utility with a large service area including more than 970,000 electric and 420,000 natural gas customers, reliability and capacity are is crucial during critical events. The conduit will protect the existing infrastructure and allow for later expansion of network capabilities while providing cost savings to Alliant Energy.
The cost savings associated with installation of the conduit and fiber benefits Alliant Energy in multiple ways. Replacing their telecommunication carriers with their own network will protect them from future price increases. Alliant Energy will also decrease their reliance on over-the-air communication, such as microwave radios. In addition, the fiber optic network serves as a gateway for Alliant Energy to work on advances in energy efficiency and technology, which would not be possible without a private fiber network.
A Navy veteran, John Hudek served in the Naval Construction Battalion, better known as the Seabees, and part of their slogan is “Can do” and “The difficult we do now, the impossible takes a little longer.” Throughout her life growing up, watching her father work so hard and the mountains he climbed for his family Read more
A Navy veteran, John Hudek served in the Naval Construction Battalion, better known as the Seabees, and part of their slogan is “Can do” and “The difficult we do now, the impossible takes a little longer.” Throughout her life growing up, watching her father work so hard and the mountains he climbed for his family, Linda Hudek learned from his example. “He taught me that hard work, persistence and determination is key. Those character traits are even more important than natural talent, and I have taken that mantra into adulthood. I love to take on difficult projects and jobs that demand unique solutions where others have said ‘no thanks’ or ‘it can’t be done.’ I am the queen of ‘Can Do,’” says Hudek.
Celebrating nearly 10 years of self-employment, Hudek, LH Plumbing Services, Fairfield, Ohio, has an already extensive decorated resumé. In 2005, working for her dad—a self-employed Master Plumber who, at one time, employed 20 plumbers—she started out in all new construction plumbing. “I began working for him the summer before my senior year of high school just to have a job and I decided that I really loved it. Although much to his displeasure at the time, he didn’t want me in such a rough environment,” jokes Hudek. “I enjoyed the new challenges on a daily basis and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with physical, tangible work. I also loved the constantly varied workplaces and meeting new people on each and every project. I went to college at night and also obtained an Associates in Business Management degree while working for him, as well,” says Hudek.
Hudek owes much of her success and drive to her parents. With John and Herma as the driving force, “They raised me to love and serve God, and to work hard. And, they love me—they even tolerate my wild adventures. My dad also gave me my trade. I can never repay them for what they have given me.”
A one-woman shop, she started her company in late 2010, “oh how young and dumb, I was,” jokes Hudek. But she obtained her master and backflow licenses shortly thereafter. For the past two years, Hudek has been in the shop location of her dreams, and has since migrated to a majority of service work in both commercial and residential sectors with some plumbing remodeling. In addition to residential and commercial service plumbing and drain cleaning, her talents include natural gas, sewer and water line replacements, backflow testing, and plumbing projects that require scuba diving. She joined her local PHCC chapter as a board member, and is currently the Vice President of the Ohio PHCC.
Being a woman in a mostly male industry, Hudek doesn’t even think about it, really. “I am a plumber first and foremost, and the quality of my work is a testament to that,” says Hudek. “I believe that high quality, professional work speaks volumes to potential tradespeople, customers and the layman alike. I want people to remember me for being able to get shit done, and for working hard. I want to encourage anyone and everyone to join the trades; there is so much satisfaction and joy to be found as a plumber. I am thrilled that women—and men alike—are not only considering joining the trades, but doing so after seeing me and other women successfully working in the field. It helps to see someone they can relate to, whereas it might be more intimidating to consider the trades without seeing successful tradeswomen,” says Hudek.
According to Hudek, she has encountered very few stereotypes concerning her gender. There have been a few people who have said that she wouldn’t be able to accomplish what a man could accomplish, but she simply proves them wrong daily. “Everyone has an opinion; some are simply incorrect and ignorant.”
To be honest, says Hudek, the most aggravating stereotypes would be from the individuals who say that the trades are for the less intelligent or troubled individuals who couldn’t do anything else or couldn’t go to college. As in any career, the best tradespeople are hard working, determined, intelligent, strive for excellence, continue their education and are motivated. “I went to college and my master license is far more valuable to me than my college degree ever could be. You can take that to the bank. I did,” says Hudek.
The advice she’s give other women thinking of entering the trades is this: find a company offering an apprenticeship program. Ask questions constantly. Anticipate your journeyman. Work hard and leave the attitude at home. Stay off drugs and stay physically fit. Learn as much as you can—spend some time each week furthering your education by gathering as much info as you can and join in the many free classes offered by suppliers and manufacturers. When you have the opportunity to earn certifications—jump on it. “Don’t be intimidated. If you want it, the sky’s the limit in the trades.”
Yet, the trade industry faces a skilled labor shortage and it needs help in recruiting talented people. Hudek suggests having more apprenticeship offerings in the non-union companies. “Plenty of people could come into the trades, but have no experience and need a structured and planned learning environment,” says Hudek.
Because some companies only want to hire experienced plumbers, “We need to get back to legitimate apprenticeships. We need more training and flexible childcare options to attract single and working parents. Many companies think they can’t afford to attract the best help, but that’s generally because they aren’t charging enough for their services.”
Also, Hudek wants to see more youth outreach in elementary, middle and high schools. “Take a day or an afternoon and talk to a class about the trades. It’s so much fun and the best time to reach out is when they’re young!”
Speaking of youth, Hudek cherishes spending time with kids. “I love spending time with kids. So many children don’t have good role models or loving families. One of the best things you can do for a child is to simply live by example. Teach them to work hard, how to love, and show them where that hard work and love can take them. Your example is far more telling than your words.”
As for personal time, Hudek says she works, a lot, and admits it can take its toll on relationships and her sanity. “But I feel like I’m maintaining a good balance now,” says Hudek. “I make time to spend with my significant other, my family and friends—sometimes it may only be for an hour or two—other times I might get the chance to randomly take a day off and spend it with loved ones. It’s one of the perks of being independent and self-employed. Oh, and I try to never work on Sundays unless it’s an absolute emergency for a good customer.”
When she can escape, Hudek is an avid scuba diver, kayaker, hiker and lover of the outdoors. She enjoys traveling all over the world when she finds the time. In fact, Hudek swam from Alcatraz Island back to San Francisco Bay for the Sharkfest Swim. “That was wild!”
Lately, Hudek has been active on social media (@thebrunetteplumber on Instagram). According to Hudek, it has opened up a whole new world and it has allowed her to bring customers into her world—helping them understand the importance of hiring licensed professional tradespeople in ways they could have never understood before. It has also helped her network with so many plumbers and business owners alike.
“These people are my rock. They have become the best friends I could ever ask for. So many have encouraged me, taught me new tricks, been referred to me, and I’m able to listen and share about things that only plumbers are going to understand and relate to. It has been a huge blessing. It has also helped me encourage others to join the trades. I’m glad to inspire them and encourage them.”
Proud of being featured in such media outlets such as Mechanical Hub, Plumber and Cleaner magazines, in the end, Hudek loves her career—she enjoys providing services that protect the health of the nation. For her, it is supremely satisfying to routinely complete projects that affect peoples’ lives in such an extreme manner, and she loves seeing the results of her work. It is tangible and visible. “And, we will be needed to sustain the quality of life that people enjoy in modern society. Unless we go back to the stone ages, we will always be needed.”
The last time she had a great day? “I was running a new gas service outside in the sunshine on a job with no one on site to bother me—just me, the trackhoe and some Nine Inch Nails.”