Denver Plumber’s Unique Approach to Branding, Employee Training Pays Dividends

High 5 Plumbing works hard to distinguish itself in a crowded Denver service area

Denver Plumber’s Unique Approach to Branding, Employee Training Pays Dividends

Some of the High 5 Plumbing team at company headquarters in Golden, Colorado. The company started with five full-time employees in 2012 and now is up to 42.

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Whether it’s technicians giving customers “high-fives” after service calls, hiring a business coach, offering technicians online and virtual reality training, or technician uniforms that look like baseball jerseys, High 5 Plumbing is not your run-of-the-mill plumbing company.

“We’re not your traditional plumbing company,” says Levi Torres, who established the company in 2012 in Golden, Colorado, a far western suburb of Denver. “If everyone does things one way, we tend to do it another way. The bottom line is that there are more than 1,800 registered plumbers in the Denver area. I need to make sure people notice us and choose High 5 Plumbing.”

If the numbers are any indication, plenty of customers are doing just that. By 2016, the company generated around $1.1 million in gross revenue. By 2022, revenue jumped to around $7.1 million. And for 2023, the company was on pace to reach nearly $10 million in sales, Torres says.

Furthermore, the company started out with five full-time employees and now employs 42 people. And the growth is even more impressive when one considers that the company’s innovative marketing and branding tactics, a big factor in its success, were developed by Torres and his wife, Cassi, despite neither having any formal marketing training.

“We definitely feel like it’s something we’re pretty good at,” Torres says. “We have a pretty good eye for branding.”

That creative spark is reflected in the company’s name. During a brainstorming session, Cassi came up with a name that Torres liked.

“I told her, ‘That’s a good one — give me a high-five,’” he recalls. “Then we both thought, ‘Wait a minute — how about High 5 Plumbing?’”

That also led to the company’s slogan: “Every call ends with a high-five.”

Technicians also ask customers for permission to take selfie photos of them getting high-fives from customers; the company posts the photos on social media platforms.

“We have thousands of photos of our technicians giving customers high-fives,” Torres says.

Getting started

Torres has deep roots in plumbing. As a teenager, he worked for his father, Leonard Torres, who owns Torres Plumbing & Heating in Alamosa, Colorado. After attending college for one semester, he decided to work for his father instead.

“I saw how much money I was paying to go to college compared to how much I could make as a plumber and realized that it would be much more beneficial to become a plumber,” Torres explains.

At around age 27, Torres went to work for another plumbing company. And after a couple years there, he left to establish High 5 Plumbing after he wasn’t allowed to take a day off.

“They wouldn’t let me take a day off because I didn’t have any personal days left, so I quit,” he says. “After that, it seemed like starting my own business was the next natural step in my career.”

The company initially focused on plumbing for new construction and remodeling projects, working primarily for general contractors. But in late 2015, Torres decided to head in a different direction because the company had accumulated more than $300,000 in past-due invoices for work already completed.

“We spent the last three months or so of 2015 essentially being bill collectors,” he says. “Then in 2016, we switched to doing only service and repair plumbing. We essentially started a new company.”

Torres says he “fired” all of the general contractors the company worked with except for five businesses that paid on time. Those five companies helped High 5 maintain some cash flow until the company was more firmly established in its new market.

“It was nerve-wracking because we gave up a lot of revenue,” Torres says. “But it didn’t take us long to see great results. I wasn’t that worried because I was very confident in my abilities.”

Man with a plan

Along with the new business focus, Torres decided to invest in some business coaching from the Blue Collar Success Group, a training and business development organization.

“I wanted to restructure the ‘new’ business the right way, from the very beginning,” he says. “That way, we’d have systems and processes in place so we wouldn’t be overwhelmed by rapid growth. A lot of times when companies grow, headaches come along with it. But when you have processes and procedures in place, you can avoid those headaches.”

The BCSG provided guidance for things such as office and field operations, inventory management and employee training. For example, it provided an operations manual that spells out exactly what technicians need to do in order to be successful.

“The result is there are no gray areas — no one wonders what they need to do to succeed,” Torres says. “It’s the same for our staff that takes phone calls and dispatchers. Pretty much everyone has an operations manual for their position.”

Online training

Through the BCSG, Torres also learned about Trainual, an online tutorial program. Technicians can watch repair videos, take quizzes and find answers to plumbing questions. It also contains tutorials for office staff.

“It’s basically an online depository that offers a way to rapidly train employees,” he says. “If technicians run into problems, they can search Trainual and find answers. As a result, our managers aren’t putting out brush fires all day because techs can lean on the software for answers. This gives our managers more time to pay attention to more important things, like profitability and employee retention.”

Blue Collar worked with Torres to develop the customized training manuals. Employees can either learn by watching, listening or reading.

“It’s a really cool system,” Torres says. “Not everyone learns the same way, so we’ve found that if we can hit all three ways that people learn, then we can ensure everyone gets trained.”

The company pays about $4,500 a year for the program, which is a subscription service with fees based on the number of employees who use the system. But Torres says it’s worth the expense because employees get trained much quicker.

“It gets them doing things the High 5 way much faster, so it’s money well spent,” he says. “If an experienced plumber comes in, it takes only about five days before they’re out in the field generating revenue. Before we had Trainual for techs, it was a 10- to 14-day training period.”

For the team

To create a team-centric culture, Torres posts copies of the company’s mission statement and “vital values” all over the company’s office so everyone is on the same page.

“If everyone is sold on your company’s mission, they’ll tend to do the right things for the business because they believe the business will take care of them in the long run,” Torres says. “If you invest time and energy into your people to train them and make them better employees, you’ll always get a better outcome. If they keep getting better, they’ll stick with you.”

Good equipment also helps support employee-retention efforts. The company runs mostly Ford Transit service vans outfitted by Mastercraft Truck Equipment (a company owned by the Reading Truck Group) with Adrian Steel trade shelving systems.

Trucks carry SeeSnake Mini, MicroReel and standard pipeline inspection cameras from RIDGID; Spartan Tool 100 and 300 cable drum drain machines; Spartan 717 cart-mounted jetters; and Spartan Cadet portable “suitcase” jetters.

Uniform approach to branding

The uniforms that High 5 technicians wear help brand the company and differentiate it from competitors. Each technician gets to design a baseball jersey in three colors: gray for “home” jerseys, black for “away” jerseys and white with pinstripes for an “alternate” jersey.

The company name is embroidered on the front of the jersey and the company logo appears on the back.

“It allows them to show their personalities a little bit, plus they don’t have to wear the same thing every day,” Torres says. “They’ve been an absolute hit. And whenever we bring in new technicians and they see the jerseys, they absolutely love it, too.”

To extend the theme, technicians’ business cards look like baseball cards; each technician gets to design their own card.

“One of our guys held a plunger like a baseball bat for his photo,” Torres says. “Those baseball cards are the talk of the town.”

Technicians used to wear typical uniforms: gray button-down shirts with a technician’s name embroidered on the left chest, the company logo on the right chest, and an American flag on the shoulder.

But in 2019, Torres and his wife were watching a Colorado Rockies baseball game and noted how when players lined up on the field during the singing of the national anthem, they looked so professional — like a team.

“So I bought her a couple of Rockies jerseys,” Torres says. “And they looked so good that we thought we might as well use them for our company uniforms.”

The popularity of the jerseys led the company to create High 5 clothing for technicians, from T-shirts to hoodies. The only words on the clothing are “High 5” — no reference to plumbing.

When customers started asking where they could buy High 5 merchandise, the company created a small line of merchandise that it sells on a website separate from the company website. All proceeds go to various nonprofit organizations affiliated with the company’s High 5 Cares charitable-giving program.

“We’ve sold more than 2,300 articles of clothing in 22 states and Canada,” Torres says. “It’s just a cool, uplifting brand.”

Bright prospects

Looking ahead, Torres envisions more growth for the company, both financially and geographically.

“Within the next 18 months, we plan to open another facility in Colorado and open new facilities in multiple states within the next five years,” he says.

While the plan may sound ambitious, Torres believes it’s totally doable.

“I don’t want to sound cocky, but we have a great track record of setting goals and then hitting them,” he says. “We’re big on vision. Even if we don’t hit our goals within the desired timeline, it’s just a matter of time before we’ll actually achieve them.”


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