Jonathan Cheever’s knack for operating in tight spaces serves him well as a plumber and a professional snowboarder.
When he competes in the 2019-20 FIS Snowboard World Cup, he races down a narrow course, jockeying for position against five other competitors. And when he installs a hot water heater or plumbs a bathroom, he wedges himself into the corners all plumbers are familiar with.
Viega is proud to sponsor Jonathan this World Cup season, which began in September and ends in March. When he’s on the course in Germany, Switzerland or the U.S., he proudly wears the Viega logo on his uniform. But Jonathan, who competed for the U.S. in the 2018 Winter Olympics, was familiar with us long before the endorsement deal.
Like many U.S. Olympic athletes, he has to work to be able to afford his training and travel. He grew up helping at his father’s plumbing company in Saugus, Mass., and became a licensed plumber in 2004. He often works with the family business in the off-season and fits in jobs in his home base of Park City, Utah, for teammates and coaches. He even worked as a subcontractor for Home Depot.
When we spoke to him recently on a break in the tour, he’d just installed two water softeners and was scheduled to install two toilets before traveling to British Columbia for his next race. Plumbing, it turns out, is an ideal occupation for a professional snowboarder who spends months on the road.
“It’s lucrative and I can set my own hours around my training and racing schedules,” he said. “There’s always going to be a need for plumbers and it’s a skill I can always fall back on.”
Jonathan started his plumbing career at 11 years old, sorting fittings at his father’s shop. He didn’t decide to pursue snowboarding as a professional until he was 19 and already a plumber. His parents were supportive and he eventually moved to Utah to train.
He’s collected several other plumbing industry sponsors, but said his relationship with Viega is particularly welcome because he believes in the products. He first used Viega fittings when plumbing a car wash in Massachusetts.
“The pressing technology was amazing. You can imagine how much piping there is in a car wash and the Viega tools and fittings saved us a huge amount of time,” he said. “We became instant converts.”
Jonathan and the family business continue to use Viega for its efficiency and reliability.
In addition to advocating for Viega, Jonathan advocates for young people to enter the skilled trades. He’s delivered the message at the 2019 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, as well as at trade schools and vocational schools.
“Snowboarding doesn’t fit with the stereotype of the plumber so it’s easy for me to get students’ attention,” he said. “I explain how plumbing has made it possible for me to pursue snowboarding while still being able to support myself.”
While a snowboarding career isn’t an option for most, Jonathan stresses that plumbing is a rewarding career free of the crushing student loans that often comes with college.
“You can earn a wonderful living without going into debt,” he said. “College isn’t for everyone and students need to know that it isn’t necessary to have a satisfying and lucrative career.”
Ironically, one of his most receptive audiences has been fellow snowboarders who often support themselves as servers or by working retail, jobs that don’t offer the flexibility or earnings of plumbing.
“I’ve had a number of snowboarding friends ask me what it takes to become a plumber,” Jonathan said.
Jonathan said he hopes to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and is not sure what he’ll do after his snowboarding career ends, but it is likely to involve plumbing.
For now, we’re excited to have Jonathan on the Viega team and we wish him success on the slopes.