And now, starting for the Los Angeles Lakers, a 5’ 10” forward from South Pasadena, Krikor Chiranian! [cheers and a loud applause ring throughout the Forum.] “Hey, as a young boy I loved basketball and my dream was to play professionally in the NBA,” says Krikor.
But with most young kids dreaming of becoming a professional athlete, reality sets in at some point, and fortunately for Koko, he got a taste of the trades early on, and there was no looking back.
Fun Fact: How do most of you know Krikor as Koko? Koko Drains (@koko.drains) was named after Krikor’s nickname. “My given name is Krikor, and since I can remember, my family would only call me Koko. In my career in drain cleaning, everyone has always known me as, and called me by, Koko. So, it really stuck with me,” says Koko.
Starting in the trades at the age of 20, Koko went on a call for a kitchen sink drain stoppage with his father, a veteran of the plumbing trade for nearly 50 years. “My father had to call on a man named Ole Bugarin to clear the drain stoppage. Ole came out with his Gorlitz Go 50 1/2” cable and cleaned the kitchen drain from the clean out, and I looked at my dad and said, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ There was just something about that moment while watching Ole clear the drain. It opened my eyes to a new part of plumbing that I found appealing and satisfying. I asked Ole if he would hire and teach me, and he did,” says Koko.
Koko worked for a single company for 11 years specializing in drain and sewer cleaning, and became adept to the work very quickly. “With the experience gained my confidence grew.” Says Koko. “One thing led to another, and I was eventually able to go on my own at age 31. As time passed, we became busier, leading to the hiring of my wife and two technicians. I’ve been self-employed for eight years now with plans for continued growth.”
Now, owner of Koko Drains, South Pasadena, Calif., Krikor Chiranian has been self-employed for the past eight years running a successful drain and sewer cleaning business with a side of waste drainage repair and replacement. In addition, Koko also provides camera inspections with marked pipe location, repairs and cleans of drains or sewer pipes by way of cabling and hydro jetting, as well as toilet and garbage disposal installations. As mentioned, Koko also repairs or replaces waste drainage piping, clean-out installation, pipe descaling, as well as trenchless rehabilitation services, and more. His go-to tool is his sewer inspection camera. “The camera tells all within an underground drain pipe, allowing proper diagnosis,” says Koko. Another daily go-to tool is Koko’s hydro jetter, which allows Koko to move a blockage out of a pipe, and, at the same time, cleans the drain or sewer pipe.”
While Ole was instrumental in mentoring Koko early in his career in drain cleaning and other plumbing essentials “teaching him everything he knows,” does Koko himself consider himself a role model for the younger generation entering the trades?
“Absolutely,” says Koko. “We pave the way for future generations. People are influenced mostly by not only what they see, but also by what they hear. To have a successful plan, it’s very important to stop and think before we act—teaching the younger generations the way to honestly and properly accomplish tasks is critical.”
According to Koko, the industry could do a better job promoting more women or minority contractors in the trades, “allowing for the attraction and eventual growth of a more diversified workforce, especially in leadership positions,” says Koko.
Being self-employed and the owner of a business makes it a bit easier to balance work/family time. “My wife schedules our work and personal life events; therefore, my wife schedules time off for me to spend with my family,” says Koko.
The free time is spending time with family, listening to and reading self-development audiobooks/books, and thinking of new ways to improve and grow the business. And, there’s social media. “Social media has allowed us to share our knowledge with others, and we can learn new ways of doing a job through other tradespeople’s perspective,” says Koko. “With social media, the new tools and equipment that are available to contractors are displayed, and they have brought new ideas for our company to utilize and grow. Also, we have made many new friends and customers through social media, building a network of reliable and respectable people.”
In the end, what does Koko love most about his job? “The gratitude our customers show us for getting the job done is the most rewarding. Also, the ability to be in the field, seeing new faces and places. In the trade, we are always seeing and learning something new.”