Family is life. Robert Broccolo Jr. (@prodrains), owner/operator of Professional Drain Services of Southern New England, LLC, Westerly, R.I., has much to be thankful for. He’ll be the first to tell you that he has the most amazing fiancée, Tiffani, whom he can’t wait to marry, and he gushes over his beautiful five-year-old daughter Isabella. Oh, and he is expecting a baby boy—Robert Broccolo III—this May.
But that’s what it’s about, right? Hard work and long days to pay the bills to carve more time with family, and to leave them in a better place financially. It’s that work/leisure balance that is so important. “It’s hard to do so but it all depends on your personal goals. My goal is to leave my kids’ grandkids an empire, but that requires tons of hard work and time each day,” says Broccolo. “I try to balance the work day so I’m home by the end of the day before the kids go to bed, spend time on weekends, and plan vacations throughout the year. As much as I’d love to be home more, I want to build for my family and future.”
Broccolo recalls his journey into the industry when he applied for a job with a local plumbing contractor who was hiring workers for a big project. “Also, I had an interest in plumbing as my father is a real estate investor and always had a very good understanding of plumbing and heating. It was one of the skills he mastered over the years so I wanted to learn and make him proud, build some value to myself, and be able to help my him in his real estate ventures. I got the job and shortly thereafter, became an apprentice plumber for that company, learning lot of different aspects of the trade,” says Broccolo.
Broccolo started off with a basic pickup truck and enclosed trailer; he acquired the basics needed to attempt a drain cleaning company. Subsequently, hard work and dedication to customer service has allowed Broccolo to grow his business by utilizing his social and networking skills he believes he gained from the many years— since the age of 10—working as a caddy at a few private golf courses. “It helped me spread the word of who I was and what I offered. I believe networking can be a very valuable tool if used properly.”
Broccolo has been in the plumbing industry for a little more than 10 years now, as he worked as a plumber for a local plumbing and mechanical contractor for years. It was around this time working with other contractors that Broccolo was given an opportunity to show what he could offer. He decided to move forward with starting his company in 2017. Specializing in sewers and septic, underground rehab, excavations and cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP) lining, Broccolo’s certifications include CT P7 Plumber, RI Underground Utility Contractor, CT Septic Installer, RI Septic Installer, RI and CT Septic Pumper, and RI Registered Septic Inspector. “From there, the growth hasn’t stopped. We now have the ability to do anything when it comes to sewer and septic,” says Broccolo.
Going into year six with great success, Broccolo continues to expand the underground rehab side of the company. “My love for plumbing has been primarily focused on sewers since the start of my company. I’m constantly learning, going to trainings, trade shows, expos, etc., to gather as much info to continue to grow the company and services we offer,” says Broccolo. “
Broccolo has had a few mentors in his plumbing journey, with his father being his hero and No. 1 mentor. “He’s always guided me in the right direction and given solid advice,” says Broccolo.
There are others, too. “My old boss Mike Loffler and Steve Antoch, and an amazing man I would caddy for each weekend at the golf course,” says Broccolo.
Each person in some way helped guide Broccolo and mentor him in different ways, sometimes not even knowing they were doing so. “So, paying it forward, I try to be my best self to help others in the industry; I believe if we all work together, we can all grow learn and do better, and that in turns makes the industry better,” says Broccolo.
Promote the Trades
According to Broccolo, the trades have been given a negative image for a long time, and that there are great jobs pay and opportunity in all aspects of the trades. His message to those kids thinking of entering the trades would be—give it a chance! “Don’t be fooled with the have-to-go-to-college mentality. I was caught in that mentality when in high school; you were considered a failure if you didn’t go to college. In fact, I went to college and it just wasn’t for me. I wish I had the ability to get my hands in the trades sooner,” says Broccolo.
What message should we be sending then? “The industry could do better by working alongside the schools,” says Broccolo. “Same as a college fair or a military recruit booth, it would be amazing if there was a ‘Trade Day’ where different trades had the ability to be at each school once a year—featuring one-on-one time, the ability to answer and ask questions, and see the reality of the jobs vs. the perception of it,” says Broccolo.
Broccolo says that a local company could sign students for jobs the same as a college signs a student. Companies could then work apprenticeships with students and implement classes to help students see if the trades are for them vs. college. “Just like most things in life, you need to experience it in some way to know if it’s for you,” says Brocoolo.
Listen, some of the most challenging jobs for Broccolo are the underground rehab projects and CIPP installs, but working on pipes without digging and solving problems is very rewarding. “Nothing is more satisfying than getting the job done that most can’t and knowing you did it without being invasive to the property,” says Broccolo.