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We have always taken pride in the plumbing trade and the license that is earned by going through an apprenticeship whether that be a union or non-union program. Because we deal
with the delivery of clean drinking water and the removal of extremely harmful waste we’ve felt strongly that a plumbing license is necessary to protect the public. However due to the downturn and the intense competition with regards to plumbing services we are starting to rethink our position with regards to licensing. Please don’t misunderstand, we believe in licensing laws however we very much disagree on its implementation and policing policies. Please read the email below from a long time plumbing contractor that will shed some light on the frustrations we face in our industry. Please note the following email was originally printed in a recent issue of PHC News and Richard DiToma uses this email to give advice to fellow contractors. Our angle is slightly different. This is not an article for plumbers and plumbing contractors, this is an article for everyone. Is it worth it for the public to have licensed plumbers working on plumbing and is it worth it for plumbing contractors to continue to take the time and invest the effort to renew their licenses?
“My name is PAUL A BAUMGARTNER, with Batavia Plumbing Co.(630) 879-9550 Batavia IL, P.O. Box 457 60510. Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I have been a plumber since 1959 and have been in business since 1980. I will be honest with you with the way things are now, it sucks to be a plumber contractor. It’s better to be a handyman and do plumbing. Why you ask? # 1, I served 5 years as a apprentice, took an all day test to get my license, now I have to do 4 hrs classes every year, send a copy my schooling to the state to renew my license, then send copy’s of all my insurance’s, $ 50,000 bond to get my contractors license. Myself and other licensed plumbing contractors have to go through that every year yet handymen, re-modelers carpenters, softener installers, heating people putting in waters heaters and so on etc, do the same work and no one is out there to stop them. Why do I have to go buy the rules? You can pick up any news paper look under handymen article’s, most have the word plumbing painting etc, most heating men out here put in water heaters, water softener people , you should see some of their installations. Carpenters who do remodeling, do their own plumbing, counter top people hook up there own sinks for their customers? Who is watching all of what is going on? Why are newspapers allowed to take adds with the word plumbing in the adds without a plumbing license number? In the past I would take those adds out send them to the local state plumbing inspectors, they told me no more, they used to send them down to SPRINGFIELD IL. to the Illinois Dept of Health. The Illinois Dept. of Health tells us they don’t have the money or resource’s to do anything about it. How do we educate the consumer to the fact that anyone doing plumbing in their home is subject to the licensing law requiring them to have a valid plumbing license. Consumers can ask the service tech to produce their license to make sure they are a licensed plumber and working for a licensed contractor to do the plumbing. Isn’t that the states job?( that’s a big laugh ) It’s not fun being in the plumbing business, if we have to compete with all the unlicensed people doing plumbing, we pay the state health dept a fee to be a plumber, a fee to be a plumbing contractor, where is all the money going? Imagine if we had doctors practicing medicine without license, they would be in jail. How about we get someone to police our industry and put a few handymen in jail for doing plumbing without the proper license. ( another joke ) . I have written newspapers, TV stations like I’m writing you, they are not interested. We have some very loyal plumbers in our industry, whom I talk to, they tell me call Springfield, when I finally reach someone they can’t wait to get off the phone. If someone would listen to me, I would gladly talk to congress, Springfield Representatives etc, so as you can see most of us plumbers are disgusted with our industry.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME………….. PAUL THE REAL PLUMBER, NOT JOE THE PRETEND PLUMBER.”
Well that was certainly a mouthful and I think by the tone of Mr. Baumgartener’s email you get a sense of his frustration bordering on despair. He is not writing anything that every legitimate plumbing contractor in the US doesn’t think about every day. Mr. DiToma believes that we should get flyers printed explaining the importance of our services, we should be the squeaky wheel so to speak. I’m of the opinion that Mr. Baumgartener has done plenty for this industry, why should the contractor police the laws that our state has chosen to uphold? I’ll break it down even further, making real simple; Mr. Baumgartener and the rest of the plumbing contractors out there are literally breaking their backsides to land enough work to not only put food on the table of their plumbers but it’s gotten to the point where they have put food on their own table These plumbing firms don’t have enough time to pound on the News Channels or their local congressmen. They don’t have the spare energy to look through the phone book to make sure each contractor out there advertising plumbing also publishes the required license number in the ad. It’s easier and cheaper to fly under the radar. By no means do I think we should scrap licensing laws but we do need to find a way to even the playing field or eventually all you’ll have is handymen doing residential plumbing. So this is our shout across the bow, things need to change.This is one of many articles we will write educating the consumer on the benefits of hiring licensed plumbers and the potential disasters that can occur we plumbing is left to individuals that have only a cursory knowledge of the trade.
Thanks Paul for allowing me to print your email.