L: Hello, this is Logan Williams for CBTV on behalf of Quality Trades. Today I will be interviewing Andres Vasquez, owner of VK plumbing down in the Inland Empire area of Southern California. Stay tuned and let's get into it!
L: So first question. Do you want to introduce yourself and tell me the name of your business?
A: Sure. Thank you. Good morning, I'm Andres Vasquez, owner of VK plumbing. We provide services for residential and commercial areas.
L: How did you come up with the name VK plumbing?
A: My last name initial and my wife's, so it's Vazquez and Kurtz.
L: What is it like being a construction business owner?
A: To be honest it’s the satisfaction to be able to help homeowners with their plumbing issues.
L: How did you get into the plumbing business, and what made you want to start your own business? You said you want to help other people, so is plumbing a passion for you?
A: It is. I mean everything started before I graduated from high school. I was working with my Dad at his landscaping business and helping him. But I mean it was not something I liked, but I started looking for a job and my uncle was working construction at that time and I asked him if I could be his apprentice. He accepted. I was like, “Oh. Thank you.”(laughs) I mean, it never crossed my mind. I fell into plumbing and I really loved it. After working with different companies and seeing a lot of stuff that makes you wonder how they can run a business like that. I mean some of the companies, they have like really bad…not reputation, but they have the stuff that is not to my standards. They're not good. So you know what? I think it's time for me to try to help those customers on my own to bring honesty and integrity to them.
L: What are some other financial obstacles and challenges you face as a construction business owner?
A: We have a couple of them. One of them would be the marketing budget. I mean if you search for any plumbing services on any search engine, the first that are going to come up will be the big companies. As a small company, those are budgets we don’t have right now, so those would be a couple of challenges. The other one would be to have the funds for a big construction project.
L: So can you talk about working out of the Inland Empire area and how it's different from Los Angeles? Although California is pretty much the same; a big sprawling landscape…
A: Yeah, it is. Well, there are a couple things. In LA they have a lot of places with raised foundations that you can work underneath, go in the crawl space and work with water and gas. And there are some areas where they have slab, but it's not as common as Inland Empire. Water services in Inland Empire have to be buried deeper than in LA, so I mean, those are the most common differences, but I feel they are the most common ones.
L: What are some of the most common problems you get requests for at VK plumbing?
A: Lately we've been getting calls for leaks, leaks on the ceiling, leaks on the wall, leaks on the slabs. Maybe a water heater broke that is leaking…I mean, so far that's where we've been getting called for.
L: Can you talk a little bit about making water heaters more efficient and why it may be important to replace old ones with more efficient ones?
A: Definitely. It just happens that we were called for water heater problems. They call us because the water heater is not turning on. They have a broken water heater that's been leaking…I mean some of them can be repaired because it might just be a leak that’s from above that we can just take care of. Some malfunctions like when it doesn't turn on, parts can be replaced here and there just to make it work. When that doesn't happen, that's when we recommend the customers that it's time for a new water heater and that's up to them because some of them would like to upgrade it to the tank-less. The benefit of a tank-less is because you don’t have to fill the whole tank either in the garage or maybe in the small closet inside the house, so that will be one of the benefits. The other one would be that when you replace the unit or when we recommend to flush the water heater and you have to flush [it] you have to empty the whole unit itself, so you’re just dumping 40 or 50 gallons depending on the size of the unit. You’re dumping all that water into the street, so that's not good. And the tank-less, I mean, I believe it only circulates into the chamber about two or three gallons at a time. So whenever that water is circulating in there, it’s getting heated up so you don't waste water.
A: Yeah, I mean that will be (laughs) one of the benefits.
L: Definitely. In regards to commercial plumbing, you say that no job is too big, so can you tell me a little more about that? And has there ever been a job that has been overwhelming or you had to hire some extra contractors to help you finish the job?
A: We have done some bathrooms for warehouse commercial places, and we have done good so far, and haven't really had to hire anybody else. We have completed some water installations for multi condo places and I mean those require high volume water lines, high volume drain systems, and even the gas meters, because gas meters sometimes are individually connected to each unit. So we have to do those and they have to be in a large scale, so we have so far been able to do those. The rule has never been broken, and we’re hoping not to get there.
L: Definitely. Yep. I hope you don't have to either. So I look at some pictures of bad plumbing and I'm no plumbing expert like you are…Can you tell me a little bit about why it’s important for residents or businesses to have good plumbing from the get-go and not have to worry about plumbing problems in the future? Although I suppose every residence or business will have plumbing problems. But how do you, as a contractor, ensure that if you're starting from the ground up, these problems can be sort of non-existent if we can eliminate those problems?
A: Well, it's always good to have plumbing in good shape or good standing because, I mean, most of the homeowners they don't want to deal or they don't want to have those headaches of water damage, or their floors getting torn up because of water…I mean whatever caused the damage, or it can come from the water or sewer because those are the ones that cause most of the damage and this is always good to have the plumbing in a good shape because you prevent all those headaches. One of them was a tank-less water heater and I mean we just ran into this by mistake, or not by mistake, just by accident because we were installing a tub outside the house and the customer wanted us to drain some water lines for the faucet, so we were looking underneath. We went into the basement to run those water lines and we noticed that the tank-less had venting, but the venting wasn’t going outside the house. It was just lying on the crawl space. So that tells us a lot because no plumber should do that, and everyone knows because all those fumes from the water heater, or that are getting released from the water heater, or the tank-less, is bad for anybody. So I mean, those fumes were just getting inside the house, and that’s just one.
L: That sounds awful. But yeah, good thing it was able be taken care of and fixed.
A: Yeah, definitely.
L: Can you talk about these same problems in regards to older residences and what kind of problems you may face dealing with an older building as opposed to a modern building?
A: Definitely. I mean there's not really a difference between those, or I mean there's a little bit, because on the older homes the plumbing is a little simpler. I mean if we need to get parts for fixtures that are old, you can get them and you can just install something a little bit basic. But for newer homes...I mean a faucet can turn on by itself now. (laughs) In this case they use a lot more electrical and electronic stuff, that for us as a plumber, we have to learn more about those. Some of the modern homes have what they call a leak preventer bow that electronically connects to the water source. So whenever there's a flood, or if the valve detects that there's a lot of water, or water is flowing for a period of time, it will shut off by itself. I mean that adds a little bit of value to the modern plumbing because it helps customers prevent those kinds of issues.
L: What should someone who is looking for getting contracting work or plumbing work done look out for in terms of not getting bad service or anything like that, besides the reviews, or maybe they don't have reviews. How does someone find out if the company listed on, say Yelp for instance, how do they find out if this company is reputable or if they should stay away from it?
A: It's a little bit of a tricky question because I mean there's some guys that I mean honestly, for a homeowner they should always make sure that whoever they’re contracting is licensed because there's some people that appear to be licensed, but they’re not, and I have run into a couple of those because the customer says, “He told me that he was licensed, and he did this work, and we're having issues.” I mean that would be one of the things that they should look out for. Another way would be to look for the pictures. Sometimes the pictures can tell a lot. I mean, just by looking at pictures, most of the plumbing has to be straight. I mean not curved or little zigzags here and there. I mean personally I like everything to be straight and to be strapped right, so that will be one of the best ways to make sure the contractor is a good candidate.
L: Now I have another question. Can you talk a little bit more about the licensing? How does someone look into licensing if they don't know about it?
A: Yeah, definitely. For the licensing, I mean to make sure that the license in a good standing they could go on the CSLB licensing board, and they can check the standing of the license, and I mean that tells a lot because they know that if they have been having issues, or they've been sued, or stuff like that.
L: So we're dealing living in some crazy times. How does it feel to run a construction business during a pandemic?
A: It was a little bit busier back in March and when Covid hit, I mean everything just went downhill. Yeah. Everything got a little bit slower.
L: Definitely. Is there any other Covid specific things you'd like to address? Or maybe a Covid specific story that impacted you or the business, or was sort of a detriment in any way to the job?
A: Everything in general. In plumbing there's always issues here and there. I mean I will say that gas leaks are really rare to happen, but you can sometimes get those because you start getting a little bit of smell of gas outside your home, and that's when you have a leak on the gas service, so it will be recommended to have it tested. Normally it will be a pressurized system. That's how we test those kind of issues, and that way they can tell if there's an actual leak of gas, so that will be the one that I would like to add.
L: Why should people choose your business, VK plumbing, over the other competitors?
A: We are honest and reliable. We always use high quality materials. We don't do half done work. We always check to exceed the customer’s expectations. We always check to go the extra mile, or go above and beyond, to make sure that we exceed those customer expectations, so we can have that long lasting relationship with them. So if they have any issues they can they can feel comfortable calling us back.
L: So I hope everyone enjoyed the interview. If you'd like to know more about VK plumbing, we will provide social media links at the end of this video. Stay tuned for more construction business related news. For CBTV and Quality-Trades this has been Logan Williams reporting. Take care and I'll see you next time.
We use the latest SEO Strategies to get your Quality-Trades Listing on Page One!