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.”