The coronavirus pandemic has left parents scrambling as schools close. Those who continue to work outside the home often need a place for their children to do their remote learning. For Becky Laviano, that place is behind her desk at Trusted Plumbing and Heating in Renton, Washington.
Laviano is the office manager at the HVAC firm. Last spring, she dealt with the sudden change in her daughter’s schooling. This fall, she took an old school desk from their home and placed it in the office. Now, her seventh grader comes in Tuesday through Thursday for school.
“I’m the principal,” said Jim Cunningham, Trusted’s owner.
Sometimes Laviano’s daughter goes in the conference room when the office gets a little busy. She said her daughter would rather be back in school, but Laviano noted how accommodating Campbell has been.
“It makes it a little better for her than some of the kids who are doing it at home because it gives her a change of scenery and keeps her socially active with the guys in my company,” Laviano said. “She’s got a lot of ‘older brothers.’”
Campbell said he didn’t want his employees to have to worry about how they were going to deal with the unusual circumstances brought on by the pandemic.
"This has been a good temporary solution for us to take care of our people,” he said. "I'm really thankful for our employees and just wanted to make sure they didn't feel stuck."
Laviano said Campbell always works to make sure the staff can balance their work and their family lives. She’s been at Trusted for three years after working at some other types of companies.
“I really like it here,” Laviano said. “It’s like a family.”
Living Up To The Name
Campbell started in plumbing by working for his uncle. He worked for a few other firms before deciding to start his own. The name of the firm means a lot to him. He tries to offer a fair price and stands behind his work.
“If you’re going to call yourself Trusted Plumbing, you’re going to have to live up to that,” Campbell said.
He moved into heating a few years ago. Campbell said most firms in the Seattle area offer both services.
“We’re in the home already,” he said.
Trusted mostly performs service work. Campbell tries to cross-train his technicians so they can do both heating and plumbing. The mild weather in the Seattle region has meant a smaller cooling season in the past. Campbell said demand for air conditioning has been growing steadily for the past few years.
Campbell said he could have more work if he had more workers. Like most HVAC contractors, Campbell said his biggest challenge is finding employees. Turnover at Trusted is low, which helps. Campbell works to grow his own technicians and then treats them well so they’ll stay.
Part of that family environment comes from regular team-building events. Last year, the entire staff went skeet shooting. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Campbell has been unable to schedule anything like that this year.
To add staff, Campbell uses a hiring agency. He also uses a marketing agency for all of Trusted’s marketing. Campbell finds these outside agencies bring a focus and skill set that helps in both areas.
The best part of working in Renton is the local economy doesn’t see any downturns. The city itself is where all Boeing 737s get their final assembly. Other employers in the area include Amazon, Microsoft, and Starbucks. In addition to a strong local economy, Campbell said his company benefits most from good relationships with existing customers.