If you’re a Press Master, part of the gig is helping the next generation of plumbers and pipefitters avoid some of the mistakes you’ve made in the past. So, we sat down with the current press masters and talked about how press technology has been integrated into their day to day and for some what it takes to finally go out on your own and start your own business.
Take the first step
Before he was a Viega Press Master and owner of Benevides Plumbing & Mechanical, Matt Benevides (@boston_plumbing_monstahs_) was a young guy wearing his “funeral suit” trying to catch on as an apprentice with a large plumbing outfit just outside of Boston. He got his break and never looked back. “Get through the first five years and you will thank yourself.” After gaining a few years of valuable experience, Matt started doing residential side work when he wasn’t on the job and things took off from there. If you follow Matt on social media, his straightforward advice shouldn’t surprise you. “Do it. Don’t wait. Answer the phone.”
All it takes is one great opportunity with pressing to understand why these individuals made the switch. Colton Henkowski had a pressing epiphany 15 years ago while working on a Denver high-rise. Repairing a water line that couldn’t be shut down, he pressed his first Viega ProPress fitting. “It worked like a charm and I never looked back,” said Colton, who is a Technical Trainer for Viega and educates the community on his Instagram account @viking_pipefitter
Invest in yourself
Tools are expensive. There’s no way around that. But when you’re starting a business it’s important to look at tooling costs over the life of the tool instead of just the initial capital investment. A press tool is a great example. While you may spend $3,000 - $4,000 on a quality press tool, many contractors claim that investment can be recouped within weeks. After that, you can start squeezing out reliable profits. “I like the fact that I don’t have to carry extra tools like I had to do for solder,” says Terence Chan, president of Impetus Plumbing & Heating. “I like that I don’t have to do extra prep work. No flame, no burning, no smell and, most of all, the speed!”
Travis Abaire, the owner of T.A.P. Plumbing and Heating in Bristol, Conn., has 23 years of experience and has been using Viega press fittings for the past 15 years. He touched on the time-saving aspect of the trade, adding “I’m a one-man show, so anything that can help me get a customer up and running and get me on to the next job, I’m all about.”
Investing in yourself means more than just the tools to these masters of the trade. “Any tool that is easier on my body is going to make me last longer in the trades and allow me to do more activities outside of work,” said Jonathan Cheever, owner of Team Cheever Design Build in Park City, Utah. “Time is freedom and time is money, no matter which way you bend it.”
Adapt to the times
Matt Fleming recently took over the business his father started, All Star Plumbing & Heating in Manasquan, NJ. For Matt, the move to pressing was a no brainer. “We can get jobs done much faster and it’s on to the next job – and that’s the whole point.”
The staff at All Star Plumbing & Heating love Viega because it’s fast, clean and dependable. It’s the innovation they need to stay ahead in a competitive environment. “You get out of it what you put into it,” Matt says of starting a business. “If you stay focused and dedicated and constantly improve, you’ll succeed.”
Going out on your own can be scary. Luckily, you don’t have to go through it all on your won. There’s an incredibly active community of plumbers, pipefitters and contractors on social media sharing tricks of the trade as well as a few laughs. Give our Viega Press Masters a follow and connect with folks all across the U.S. who are picking up a press tool, stocking Viega fittings and taking control of their future.