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Start Your Business Business Ideas

You: Starting a…Plumbing Business

You: Starting a…Plumbing Business
Do third-party contractors pose a security risk to your business? / Credit: Plumber image via Shutterstock


Business Type: Plumbing
Owner: Mike Edwards
Business Name: Edwards Plumbing

We've all had dreams of starting our own business. But, often, the challenge is figuring out how to turn your brilliant business idea into a profitable adventure. In our series, "You: Starting a Business," we ask real business owners to tell us how they started their successful small businesses.

This week, we interview Mike Edwards, co-owner of Cottage Grove, Minn.-based plumbing business Edwards Plumbing. He tells us how he got started and, more importantly, the strangest thing he ever pulled out of a toilet.

BusinessNewsDaily: What were your initial startup costs?

Mike Edwards: $50,000

BND: How long did it take you to make a profit?

M.E.: Six months or so

BND: What are your biggest overhead expenses?

M.E.: The trucks, tools and products

BND: What has been the biggest challenge?

M.E.: Advertising is the biggest challenge . There are so many avenues out there and everybody claims there the best. Only way to find out is test it. Huge challenge!

BND: What is the strangest thing you pulled out of a toilet?

M.E.: Statue of Baby Jesus.

BND: What is the most common plumbing problem people have?

M.E.: Leaking or broken pipes (water and drain).

BND: How many houses do you see in a day?

M.E.: 4-6 per day, 7 days a week.

BND: Do people tell you that you charge to much and refuse pay?

M.E.: Only once.

BND: Do people tell you how to do your job as you are doing it?

M.E.: No, but they are very intrigued to watch.

BND: Have you ever been bitten by a family’s dog?

M.E.: Yes, a few times. Dog’s usually love me! Pretty sure these ones weren’t fed.

BND: Are there certain jobs you won’t do?

M.E.: Yes, ones that are too dangerous or a liability to my company. We’ll attempt anything and quote anything out. But will charge based on the situation.

BND: Have you ever been hit on by a customer?

M.E.: No

BND: Do you fix many mistakes the homeowner caused?

M.E.: Almost every day. Seems since the economy went down, the home owners have been trying to do more themselves, usually resulting in more damage and more cost to the home owner then if they would have called a plumber in the first place.

BND: Do you have employees working for you?

M.E.: Yes

BND: What is the most difficult plumbing problem you have seen?

M.E.: Leaking drum trap buried into the second-floor wall adjacent to the stairs.

BND: What's the best plumber joke you've heard?

M.E.: A plumber attended to a leaking faucet at the neurosurgeon's house. After a two-minute job the plumber demanded $150. The neurosurgeon exclaimed, “I don't charge this amount even though I am a surgeon." The plumber replied, "I agree, you are right. I too, didn't either, when I was a surgeon. That's why I switched to plumbing!"

BND: Is it difficult to focus on doing your job and running your business?

M.E.: Sometimes

BND: Are we all going to be stuck with low-flow toilets soon?

M.E.: Unfortunately yes, but there are some good ones.

BND: What's the one thing people could do to save themselves a visit from the plumber?

M.E.: Get rid of the garbage disposals or properly know how to use them. Proper winterization of the outside faucets to prevent broken pipes. 

If you are interested in opening your own plumbing business, you can get more information from these plumbing associations: The Quality Service Contractors and the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute.

You can also visit the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook for an overview of plumbing trades and plumbing employment outlook.