The Plumbing Info Pro – Sean Kavanaugh Profile – 10 Years and Counting

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Plumbing From The Bottom To The Top

Although I have been the author of The Plumbing Info for a decade, someone pointed out that nowhere on the website was there a profile about me. Here is a brief bio about who I am and why I actually write for my site.

After college I began working for my father at Litvin Plumbing in Chicago. He was the president of the company at the time. Litvin was an old time high rise contractor in and was in fact one of the first high rise plumbing contractors in Chicago. The firm installed the plumbing in the following famous Chicago buildings, The John Hancock, Center, Marina Towers, The Harold Washington Library amongst hundreds of others.

My father started me out working in the accounting office. It was a humble start. I got into work early, made coffee, started the computer system and began working in Accounts Payable and Receivables. After a short spell in accounting our purchasing agent left the company. A purchasing agent in a construction firm is a fairly high level job and the company certainly needed a replacement quickly. My father looked at me and said “sink or swim kid. You’re the new purchasing agent”. After quite a bit of sparring and self doubt I took the job. I was a bull in a china shop. Whatever I didn’t know I over compensated by demanding answers from vendors. I was organized and fairly effective but our vendors pretty much hated me. After 6 months or so the vice president of one of our plumbing supply vendors decided to take me out to lunch and give me some of the best advice I have ever received. He knew I was green around the gills but he also knew I wanted to excel. He said “Sean you’re gonna wear out any goodwill you have for being new. No one is gonna help you if you continue to beat up the people at your supply houses.” He added “If you ask someone for help rather than demanding answers you’ll get a hell of a lot more cooperation.” So from that day forward I changed the approach and my job got infinitely easier, I made some great friends and did pretty well.

A Deeper Understanding Of The Plumbing Business Was Calling

Fast forward 4 years. I wanted to do more in the business. I wanted to project manage and learn how to estimate. Bob Litvin, God Rest His Soul was infamous for over paying for a position he held in high regard but for not letting people leave that position. I knew it was time to go so I went looking and landed a job with Abbott Industries. Bob Abbott was the president of Litvin Plumbing when my father was an apprentice and built a successful business with his wife Dee and daughter Lori. He was an awesome teacher and allowed me to spread my wings. He took me to owners meetings and allowed my to handle change orders for several large high rise buildings and condo complexes. After 18 months of me working at Abbott my father quit Litvin after 31 years and Kavanaugh Plumbing was born. Bob Abbott was gracious and helped us quite a bit in the early days.

I never wanted one of our plumbers to say I wouldn’t or couldn’t do what they did in the field so I took the Chicago Local 130 Plumbing Apprentice test  and began my 5 year apprenticeship. In the beginning I worked mostly in the field and then did paperwork, change order requests, proposals and accounting at night. Slowly over the 5 years I spent more and more time in the office eventually getting out of the field. I did just about everything. Service work, new construction, rehab, accounting, estimating, sales calls etc., and eventually after 10 years became the company’s Vice President. We had good times and bad. The Great Recession hit us hard. The bank pulled our line of credit, so my father and I doubled down. He dumped all of the money he had earned over the years and I sold two other businesses I owned and we self funded the company for 3 more years. It wasn’t the smartest thing we had ever done but we could both put our heads down at night knowing we gave it everything. In 2012 we closed our doors. It was painful, the family suffered but after a year or so he and I both bounced back. At 75 he still estimates and project manages for a local Chicago plumbing contractor. I wanted to give to the plumbing industry in other ways. In 2009 three years prior to us closing I founded The Plumbing Info.

The Best Resume I’ve Ever Produced

There is quite a bit of information on the web about plumbing but a lot of it is cut and pasted from other sites and I think I can write better than most in the field so that is what I have done. The site is the greatest resume I have ever written. I have worked closely with Hansgrohe, Kohler and other major manufacturers over the years and been on three TV shows to which I give most of the credit to this website.

I hope you enjoy the site. Quite a bit of the articles you read I have written myself and I’m sure my devoted readers can tell when I’ve had others write. I will continue to strive to make the site better and more accessible. Thank you to everyone for making this site one of the most read plumbing only websites in the United States.

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