Continuing Education Key To Contractor's Success

Bay Area plumbing contractor: The more you know, the better you can serve customers.
Continuing Education Key To Contractor's Success
H&R Plumbing owner Horacio Franco and his wife, Alejandra, and crew sit around a Mr. Manhole leveling system in El Sobrante, California. Left to right are: Jesus Uriarte, Carlos Chavez, Fabio Rustioni, the Francos, Amador Sosa and Rafael Escobar.

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Getting properly certified for his company’s primary services was important to H&R Plumbing owner Horacio Franco. It opened the door to future growth and helped establish the company’s credibility.

Franco had worked six years in the plumbing industry and had earned his master plumber's license when he decided to start his own company in 2004. Within a few years it grew to eight service vans with a full staff serviing a 50-mile radius around the metropolitan area of Oakland and Berkeley, California.

It was during the financial crisis in 2008 that Franco began looking for new services that would keep the doors open. He began checking out the various trade shows, including the Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo (now known as the WWETT Show), where he had the opportunity to chart a new course for his company.

While the plumbing operation shrunk from eight service vans to just three during this period, trenchless line replacement became a strength. H&R had been hiring subcontractors to handle pipe bursting projects, but Franco eventually purchased his own system from TRIC Tools. Franco also recognized the growing interest among municipalities in manhole rehabilitation. These technologies, including relining, became the target of his interest.

Furthermore, the company is certified in NASSCO’s Lateral Assessment & Certification Program, Pipe Assessment & Certification Program and Manhole Assessment & Certification Program. Franco spent two days in class in Oakland for his Inspector Training and Certification Program. He is also a member of the California Water Environment Association, and regularly attends its conferences and exhibits in its trade show, which has provided additional exposure for the company.

“We have all been trained, including our plumbers, on confined-space entry, pipe bursting, sewer lateral lining, manhole rehab, CCTV inspections, hydrojetting, pipe patch, trenching, and traffic control,” Franco says. “There are some procedures you may not use, but I like to give all our people the information and training so we can meet any challenge, be safe and serve our customer.

Instructors for many of the different programs have come to their location for training purposes.

“Important for us too is that we are certified by the State of California to be an MBE (Minority Business Enterprise), SBE (Small Business Enterprise), and DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise), all beneficial for us.”

He says the most satisfying thing has been growing the business and seeing the results of their work. To him, it’s almost like an art form.

“I’m very proud to accomplish something that is going to serve the community for years and years to come," Franco says.

"My plumbers, because they are exposed to everything we offer, are able to educate the customer, and explain the options available to fix a sewer line," he adds. "Basically, they become our on-the-road salespeople. In their work they see the various conditions in lines, and they know the process. This is an important benefit for our company."

We profiled H&R Plumbing & Drain Cleaning on the pages of Municipal Sewer & Water in September 2014. Learn more about Franco's committment to his team and how he set himself apart from the competition.


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