How It Be with DannyG—I was curious. Could this third-person reference have anything to do with his burgeoning rap career? Or was it something else. I needed to find out. Referring to himself—tongue in cheek—as an old rapping plumber, turns out, “How it Be With DannyG” actually originated from a series of “how-to” videos—created for a social media group and hosted on Youtube—aimed at helping other plumbers. Okay, got that solved, but why the rapping? At first glance, the rapping image is fun and refreshing, but as I dug a little deeper, Danny G the rapper is no joke, and something Danny Gronendyke takes very seriously. “I do take great pride in my rapping. It started in my freshman year of high school in the mid-80s. Someone at school started playing Run-DMC and I was hooked, and I have been listening and rapping ever since. I think it’s the rhyming that hooked me, and doing it to a beat was fascinating to me, and still is,” says Danny Gronendyke, owner, Gronendyke Plumbing Inc., Merrillville, Ind.
But don’t look for Danny to take his rapping tour to a town near you anytime soon. “I don’t do well with performing live; I get distracted by the audience and forget lyrics. I am more of a recording artist. Less pressure to get it right when you are in a recording booth than when you are live,” says Gronendyke.
However, you may notice Danny’s rapping skills now more than ever. This past year, Danny has honed his rhymes for a number of different companies. In fact, a very proud moment indeed, he just finished shooting for NIBCO. “2020 has been a wacky year for so many reasons. One of which is that after 37 years of rapping for fun and hobby, my rather unexpected rap career has taken off. Who would have saw that coming? At 51 years old, I sure would have not predicted that,” says Gronendyke.
I guess you could say that Danny G has always had that entrepreneurial, creative spirit. After high school, Gronendyke spent five years in the U.S. Air Force as a firefighter. When he left the service, Gronendyke worked 12 years in a steel mill where his father worked. “The last four of those years, I was bit by the entrepreneurial bug. While working full time at the mill, I also came up with a concept for a video game super store called “Games By The Day,” which focused on renting video games for one day at a time instead of others in the industry who only had five day game rentals at a higher rate. We also bought sold and traded new and used games. I was open every day for four years!” says Gronendyke enthusiastically.
Yet, after opening a second location, that store didn’t do as well, and Gronendyke decided to get out of the video game business and give plumbing a try. Gronendyke had a lifelong friend who was in a good position to help him get into the plumbing apprenticeship program and also hired him at the company for which he worked. “When a great friend said he was hiring plumbers, and he could help get me into the school, I gave it great consideration. I thought of other trades, but in my opinion, the plumbing trade would be the one trade that I felt would ALWAYS have people in need and therefore became my choice of trades to learn,” says Gronendyke.
“I worked for three companies during my first six years. Then, I was laid off most of 2011 when construction plummeted. So, in the spring of 2012, I decided to open Gronendyke Plumbing, Inc., and work for myself. I have not had a day off that I didn’t want in the last 8 1/2 years. So, by that measure, I call myself successful in what I set out to do.”
Specializing in residential service work, Gronendyke also peppers in some remodeling jobs with two trusted contractors. “I enjoy residential service because it’s something new every day—new problems to solve, new people to help, a new universe to save! Well, that may have gone too far, but I do love to save the day for people when they are in such need.”
What Gronendyke loves most about the plumbing trades is that he loves the changing landscape all the time. “Different places, new faces, new problems, never the same thing. It keeps my mind turning to solve problems and come up with solutions and install systems that work long after I am done with them. Overall, it gives me that feel good feeling. And the money is good, too.”
But after COVID hit, you could say it left Gronendyke in a brief state of high anxiety. “The first two days after restaurants were shut down for dining in, my phone did not ring. I was a little nervous about that.” Then day three hit, says Gronendyke, and everything went back to normal. “Plumbing problems are pandemic-proof. I have been doing the same amount of plumbing, and adding rapping to the mix has kept me much busier this year,” says a grateful Gronendyke.
Gronendyke throws props to a particular mentor, Bob Coleman, a now-retired plumber who took Danny under his wing and taught him how to do things right. Showing great patience with Gronendyke early on, “He was old school and always emphasized quality over quantity. He is the one who really instilled in me the set of values that would have me taking great pride in my craft and in my workmanship. And yes, he wore bib overalls,” says Gronendyke.
As an industry veteran, Gronendyke does see needed improvements within the plumbing trade. “I wish that someday the industry will come together and agree on a plumbing code that would work everywhere. I know there would be climate considerations that would still be in place, but it seems that the industry could come together a bit more when it comes to standards and practices and code requirements.”
Another area of concern for Danny G, and one that has plagued the industry for years and will continue to do so, is the recruitment and training of the next generation of plumbers. “If the industry doesn’t act on this, our future is going to be rough with a shortage of plumbers in our country.”
What are some words of wisdom that Gronendyke would share with those contemplating or entering the trades? “Learn everything you can about your trade, and give your absolute best in all you do. Always keep your head on a swivel and keep your ears alert to pick up stuff that others may or may not be willing to share. Ask lots of questions and absorb the answers. Never give up. It can be a tall mountain to climb, but you do it one step at a time,” says Gronendyke.
Working in the trades can be difficult when trying to balance work and family time. Being self-employed, Gronendyke likes that he can schedule my time as he sees fit. Admittedly, Gronendyke works a lot, and he doesn’t turn down much work. However, there are times that he will purposely not schedule work so that he can spend time with his family. “I am happily married to a wonderful woman and I enjoy her company, traveling and experiencing new things in life with her. She is a school teacher and is as passionate about her career, as I am mine. I also have four children—two sons and two daughters. They are all grown and out on their own, but I enjoy the changing role that I play in their lives. Finally, I get to be less of a teacher to them, and more of a friend. It’s refreshing.”
In addition, as mentioned earlier, Gronendyke loves to write and record rap songs, and he enjoys watching movies. “I don’t always manage my balance well, though. About five years ago I was accomplishing goals in fitness, including running three full marathons in a five-week period. I then moved on to triathlons. I worked myself up to competing in a 70.3 half Ironman Triathlon. After that, I got so busy with work that I let it go and have been contemplating getting back into it and train for a full Ironman Triathlon. That is big on my bucket list.”
Working on his aspiring rap career, social media had played a big part. “Social media is responsible for my rap career kicking off. It’s been a great outlet to get my music out there, and it’s how my clients have heard of me and contacted me to do rapping work for them,” says Gronendyke.
Moreover, social media had benefited Gronendyke (@howitbewithdannyg on Instagram) in other ways, mainly in his professional life. “Meeting so many other plumbing professionals and talking shop with them, and learning so many different tips/tricks and new methods of performing various tasks has really upped my game. Social media has been there for me too, when I need information or help, I can reach out and get good answers and assistance. I like to be there for others as well as a way to give back.”
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t tackle one last thing. What’s the deal with all of the Milwaukee tools? Evidently, it goes way back. As an apprentice, Gronendyke decided to tool up for side jobs. He really liked the look and feel of Milwaukee tools, he bought a 5-piece kit, and before long he was married to a battery platform and it made sense to stay Team Red.
You might call this an obsession. But for Gronendyke, there really are no perfect tool platforms, but he finds that Milwaukee has done a great job with developing a large variety of general tools and plumbing-specific tools, which captivated him early, having used almost all of the Milwaukee tools that he has amassed. “It’s possible that I have the largest Milwaukee Tool collection of any one-man shop. Some say that I have a problem, an addiction. They may be correct,” says Gronendyke.