When talking to the management or employees at My Plumber Heating and Cooling, it is hard to tell if they are part of a large contracting firm or a big extended family, which is the key to success at this Manassas Va.-based company, and why The NEWS recognized the company as its “Best Contractor to Work For” Eastern region contest winner.

Award-Winning Company

Wendell Presgrave started My Plumber Heating and Cooling 30 years ago. Presgrave, along with his son, Mark, built the business into a contracting powerhouse with 150 employees and $22 million in revenue in 2012. In 2007, the father-and-son team expanded its reach, adding HVAC work, which led the company to add “Heating and Cooling” to its name. Along the way, the company received a long list of awards for sales and community service including:

• Nice Guys award for business philanthropy, from Acacia Federal Savings Bank in 2007;

• Second place in the National Delta Contractor of the Year awards, courtesy of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC) and Delta Products Corp. in 2007;

Washington Family magazine’s Best for Families, Readers Choice award in 2008;

• Finalist for the National Capital Business Ethics award for midsized companies in 2011; and

• Top 10 Ranking for “Select Service” from Nexstar in 2011.

Jack Tester, president, Nexstar Network, has worked directly with My Plumber Heating and Cooling over the years, stating that “Mark and Wendell are people-people and Wendell’s job is to make that place run like a family.”

Family Atmosphere

Tester’s observation was confirmed through the work of several key employees, including Jennifer Tierney. Tierney currently serves as a customer service representative — her third position in six years.

“My Plumber is an exceptional place to work because it is very family oriented,” she said. “Everybody works as a team and we have a lot of teamwork here. Whether it is a company issue or a personal issue, the doors are always open and you can talk to anyone.”

Mark Kessinger, an HVAC service technician, said the company is unique because “The people and the management make it so much easier to do your job. I have never had a company bend over backward like they have in an effort to help you succeed.”

A company picnic, which began as an employee-family affair 24 years ago, has turned into an annual extravaganza with face painters, climbing walls, a dunk tank, and even an ice cream truck. Over 500 employees and family members get together the Sunday before Labor Day to celebrate.
When the company was recognized by Delta Products Corp. and PHCC in Las Vegas, Wendell Presgrave decided that more people should join in on the recognition.

“We had a contest for our plumbers and those who averaged a certain sales figure over a 13-week period received a weeklong trip to Las Vegas for them and their spouse,” he said. “We ended up taking 47 people.”

The Presgrave’s have arranged for a masseuse to come to the office every other week for the last 16 years, which is not a bad perk for team members that face some pretty hard working conditions.

Mark Presgrave decided last year to recognize exceptional effort by giving each employee an Apple iPad for company and personal use.
“The guys love these things [iPads]. They’re constantly taking pictures on the job and attaching them to the invoice. And we are using them for training videos. Who says you can’t mix business with pleasure?”

Better to Give Than Receive

My Plumber Heating and Cooling not only helps its own people, but it reaches out to the community in several ways. During the Christmas season, the company operates a Merry Christmas program, where technicians and installers identify needy families that have difficulty paying for a service call or repair and authorize a no-cost service call.

The winter months also signify the start of the company’s annual Warm Hands and Full Hearts food drive. Between Nov. 1 and Feb. 28, the company collects donated canned goods from customers through a marketing effort, touting an $89 tune-up for only $55 and five cans of food. In the last 10 years, the company has collected more than 81,000 cans of food. The company even enlists the help of other companies like the Virginia Realty Group to expand the reach of the program, resulting in the collection of an additional 5,000 pounds of food.

The company also contributes services to the Ronald McDonald House, Habitat for Humanity, the Youth for Tomorrow organization, and others. Wendell Presgrave estimates the company sponsors 50 youth teams and also assists Boy Scouts as they earn their Plumbing Merit badge.

According to Presgrave, the company has donated more than $500,000 to various charities, military personnel, senior citizens, and first responders.

Communication is Key

The company is quick to attest that communication has played an important role in its business success. Mark Presgrave meets every morning with key managers for 20-30 minutes, which serves as an excellent tool for keeping members focused and on track, he said. The executive team also holds biweekly planning meetings.

The family atmosphere is enhanced every other month with an All Hands meeting that includes technicians, installers, salesmen, and office personnel. Todd Shea, HVAC sales manager, and Travis Humphrey, HVAC service manager, facilitate the meetings. “We make it a fun meeting and even do some physical exercises and team building,” said Shea.

Shea also takes this opportunity to recognize top sales producers through a spin of the “wheel of fortune,” where prizes consist of up to $200 in cash and more.
Mark Presgrave also implemented a two-day orientation program for all new employees that covers every aspect of working at My Plumber Heating and Cooling.

“Management really takes you in and helps you out more than other companies,” said Kessinger, who participated in the orientation program upon his hiring. “Other companies put you out there in a van and you are on your own, but that isn’t the case here.”

Continuing Education

Training and development is an ongoing process at the company. Shea said he plans to focus future training sessions on products that fit the season. In the fall, the regional sales representative for Aprilaire conducted a training session on steam humidifiers and humidistats. Humphrey also works with the technicians to help them attain North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certifications. The company currently has four NATE-certified technicians on staff.

Additional continuing education is provided through the Virginia Department of Labor. My Plumber Heating and Cooling also invests in outside training for technicians. Two technicians recently returned from a week of hands-on training at the Ultimate Technician Academy in North Little Rock, Ark. Further evidence of the company’s commitment is a new training center, which is scheduled for completion in April.

The family approach to business and the continuous development of people makes the company a magnet for new employees. Over the last few years, the company estimates at least 40 new hires, mostly by word of mouth.

Proven Results

The company has an outstanding business track record, as evidenced through its standing as a finalist for the the National Capital Chapter Business Ethics award in 2011. The award, given by the National Capital Chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, recognizes businesses which exemplify a strong commitment to business excellence, and to the highest standards of civic and social responsibility, integrity, and ethical conduct.

Mark Pesgrave said the company’s mission is very simple: Be the company of choice.

“We want to be the best company to work for and the best company to do business with,” he said. “If we can achieve those two things, there is nothing that can stop us.”

Just The Facts: My Plumber Heating and Cooling

My Plumber Feature HeadshotContractor: My Plumber Heating & Cooling

Owner: Wendell Presgrave

Location: Operates in 17 counties in Virginia, and suburban Maryland

Years in Business: 30 years

Bulk of Market: Residential

Total Sales for 2011: $22 million

Total Employees: 150

Total Service Technicians and Installers: 100

Average Hours Employees Spend In Training: 40 hours each year

Industry Association & Contractor Group Members: Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC), and North American Technician Excellence (NATE)

The NEWS Selected This Contractor Because: Track record of awards, community service, and family atmosphere.

Publication date: 1/28/2013