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A brand new commercial office and retail building located in Chicago’s Fulton Market District, Fulton East is the nation’s first next-generation office building designed to specifically address employee health, safety, and wellness in a post-COVID-19 environment. With 85,000 square feet of floor-to-ceiling glass skyspace, Fulton East is home to a number of leading-edge products to Read more

Sloan Optima® sensor solar-powered faucets, SOLIS sensor flushometers, Sloan matching soap dispensersA brand new commercial office and retail building located in Chicago’s Fulton Market District, Fulton East is the nation’s first next-generation office building designed to specifically address employee health, safety, and wellness in a post-COVID-19 environment.

With 85,000 square feet of floor-to-ceiling glass skyspace, Fulton East is home to a number of leading-edge products to promote the health and safety of its tenants. Innovations include the Toe-To-Go hands-free elevator system in addition to airPHX non-thermal plasma technology throughout the building to help reduce cross-contamination risks and provide cleaner air and work surfaces.

Sloan Optima® sensor solar-powered faucets, SOLIS sensor flushometers, Sloan matching soap dispensers

“Sloan brought a local and family-owned lineup of products that have a tremendous amount of features and capabilities to meet the requirements of the project’s aesthetics, function, and LEED goals,” said Steve Fadz, Senior Project Manager, Clayco. “Their sales and product specialist team has also really been helpful to make sure the right products were selected.”

Sloan Optima® sensor solar-powered faucets, SOLIS sensor flushometers, Sloan matching soap dispensers

Fulton East’s restrooms present tenants with a totally hands-free handwashing experience. Pairing Sloan Optima® sensor solar-powered faucets (EAF-275) with Sloan matching soap dispensers (ESD-2000) and an undermount lavatory (SS-3021), the products provide sensor-based solutions that eliminate the cross-contamination concerns that come along with manual fixtures. As a new and high-end building, Fulton East also wanted its restroom aesthetic to meet the standard throughout the rest of building. The facility was drawn to the cutting edge design of Sloan’s matching faucets and soap dispensers with their unique, sleek, and angular shape.

Sloan Optima® sensor solar-powered faucets, SOLIS sensor flushometers, Sloan matching soap dispensersA LEED-certified building, Fulton East wanted restroom fixtures equipped with a low gallons per flush (gpf) standard. Sloan flushometers fit that description for both the water closets and urinals. Fulton East paired Sloan wall-mounted water closets (ST-2459) with SOLIS® sensor flushometers (SOLIS 8111-1.28) and Sloan designer washdown urinals (SU-7409) with additional SOLIS sensor flushometers (SOLIS 8186-0.125). With sleek lines and sophisticated flair, the designer urinal furthers Fulton East’s design goals while generating only a 0.125 gpf. Fulton East also sought products that would ease the burden on its facility maintenance team. Each of Sloan’s vitreous china fixtures feature SloanTec® Hydrophobic Glaze, a proprietary water-repellant glaze that inhibits the growth of germs and bacteria to make the fixtures easier to clean and keeps them cleaner for longer. Additionally, all flushometers are solar-powered and come with a three-year battery life to make maintenance an easy task.

Shamrock Plumbing in North Salt Lake, Utah, is currently finishing up a large apartment complex, Soleil apartments, in Bluffdale. It’s a 100 percent solar complex with no gas. There are about 600 units in the entire complex, broken into buildings of 24 to 48 apartments. Sanders said there is a 2″ PEX line into each building to Read more

Shamrock Plumbing in North Salt Lake, Utah, is currently finishing up a large apartment complex, Soleil apartments, in Bluffdale. It’s a 100 percent solar complex with no gas. There are about 600 units in the entire complex, broken into buildings of 24 to 48 apartments.

Viega PureFlow PEX and press fittings, Viega, PEX piping, press fittings, plumbing, Shamrock Plumbing

Sanders said there is a 2″ PEX line into each building to feed the water supply, and from there the lines drop down to 1″ from the water supply to the fixtures.

There are several reasons Shamrock Plumbing in North Salt Lake, Utah, uses Viega PureFlow PEX and press fittings in its multifamily new builds.

Viega PureFlow PEX and press fittings, Viega, PEX piping, press fittings, plumbing, Shamrock Plumbing

“It’s the flexibility. It’s the cost. It’s a 25-year warranty as opposed to zero warranty when you sweat copper. It’s the ease of installation,” said Bob Sanders, manager and partial owner of Shamrock. “You can also train a guy to install it fairly quickly, as opposed to the skillsets needed with copper pipe and all of that.”

Viega PureFlow PEX and press fittings, Viega, PEX piping, press fittings, plumbing, Shamrock Plumbing

Thanks to the flexibility of PEX, fewer fittings are needed throughout the buildings to plumb the waterlines to each fixture, which in turn makes the installation quicker. Sanders estimated that one installer can get about four units done per day using PureFlow.

Widely used in Utah and in newer builds overall, Sanders said PEX is always specified when Shamrock takes on a new project like this, because of all of its pluses. He said most contractors they work with rely on Shamrock to pick the best products, and PEX is “far superior as far as a cost breakout compared to copper—plus the longevity and ease of use.”

Viega PureFlow PEX and press fittings, Viega, PEX piping, press fittings, plumbing, Shamrock Plumbing

Shamrock uses Viega PureFlow products exclusively. The company used them in the past and was impressed, then they tried another company but eventually came back to Viega for its superiority.

“We weren’t satisfied with the other’s inconsistencies in the product, problems with leaks, etc., so we came back to Viega,” Sanders said. “It’s good, with good name recognition, and the reps and everyone we work with are a great support. You just can’t beat it.”

I’ve always had this romanticized view of Alaska. Ahh, The Last Frontier. It’s been on my bucket list for years, and it was actually one of the places my father and I had initially planned to visit before he passed away. There is something mystical about it — the beauty of the mountains, the wildlife, and Read more

I’ve always had this romanticized view of Alaska. Ahh, The Last Frontier. It’s been on my bucket list for years, and it was actually one of the places my father and I had initially planned to visit before he passed away. There is something mystical about it — the beauty of the mountains, the wildlife, and I would think you would have to have something special to live and work there. “Living in Alaska is an adventure. It is an extreme place to live with beautiful amazing summers with almost 24 hours of daylight to extreme cold, dark, snowy winters. There is no shortage of extreme activities to choose from,” says Everett Knudsen, owner/operator, 907 Heating & Plumbing, Anchorage.

Working in Alaska is extreme as well, says Knudsen, especially for the heating and plumbing trade. “Extreme cold (-20 F) is not uncommon in Anchorage January through February, and even colder in more northern locations of Alaska (-50 to-70 F). I’ve had a project that required taking a helicopter to get to the job site and another that required taking a boat,” says Knudsen.

Everett Knudsen, 907 Heating & Plumbing, plumbing, HVAC, Alaska, Hydronics, radiant, Anchorage, @907plumber“I used my own boat to travel back and forth to the jobsite over the course of about a week and a half. When we launched the boat there was about 6” of snow on the boat launch and had to chain up the box van just to get the boat in the harbor. Then the harbor was frozen over and one person had to sit on the bow with a piece of steel pipe and break up the ice in front of the boat to get the boat out of the harbor. The boat ride to the jobsite was out of Valdez harbor through the Bay to the Narrows. The mountains come right into the water, and just an amazing 30-minute commute.

“On our final trip back at the end of the project was very dangerous, the weather had turned very bad with high winds and blowing snow. We didn’t want to be stuck on the remote jobsite any longer so we went for it. The waves were 8-12’ and it was blizzard conditions. For my 22’ jet boat we were in way over our heads. Any type of engine failure would surely cost the two of us our lives. We could barely see the glimmer of the harbor lights as we slowly pushed through the storm. The windshield of the boat was freezing over and we could barely see. The boat was crashing over each wave and the spray was freezing and build up on the boat. I was terrified, as was my helper. Luckily, we made it back safe, very shaken, but safe. It was an experience I will never forget. You have to respect the extreme of Alaska or it could get the better of you.”

Plumbing in -20 F degree weather is very difficult and can be dangerous, reiterates Knudsen. “I’ve had my Channellock pliers freeze/stick to my gloves. I’ve entered houses full of ice from frozen split pipes. Working outside requires wearing the appropriate gear, and sometimes I’m only able to work outside for 30 minutes at a time before getting too cold. “Sometimes I have to use a pipe thaw machine (buzz box) or large welder to thaw frozen pipes to restore domestic water or heat. And usually this means wet gloves and hands, which does not match well with freezing temperatures,” says Knudsen.

Everett Knudsen, 907 Heating & Plumbing, plumbing, HVAC, Alaska, Hydronics, radiant, Anchorage, @907plumber

Needless to say, frozen cordless tools—mainly batteries—have to be kept inside once it gets colder than 20 or so and calls at all hours of the night, and working long late hours because time is of the essence to avoid more damage to property when it is very cold out, is imperative.

But what about the occasional wildlife encounter? Typically, while working in Anchorage it is safe, says Knudsen. There is frequent moose and the occasional bear, and depending on the part of Anchorage, there can be some added risks in the suburbs, he adds. “Springtime is always a good time to be cautious. The moose are having their babies and mama moose are very protective of their babies. Also, bears are coming out of hibernation and looking to eat anything. Yet, in my 25 years in Anchorage, I have not had a problem with either moose or bear.”

There are usually 1-3 or more bear attacks each summer in and around Anchorage. It is important to be aware of your surroundings in the summertime. “In the summer, when I go hiking anywhere in Alaska, I carry a 10mm or 44mag pistol for bear protection. Surprising a bear in the wild is where the problems lie and you never know when that will happen and it’s better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it,” says Knudsen.

Into the Wild, and into the Trades

Originally from the Northwest, Knudsen, moved from Olympia, Wash., to Alaska in 1994. Knudsen answered a help wanted ad in the Anchorage local newspaper back in 1998 for “Local Plumbing Company Seeking Shop Helper.” He was 19 years old. “I started at Anchorage Plumbing & Heating, and at that time it was not my intention to be a plumber or have a plumbing career, I just needed a job, and I didn’t mind labor-type work.

Everett Knudsen, 907 Heating & Plumbing, plumbing, HVAC, Alaska, Hydronics, radiant, Anchorage, @907plumberBottom line, Knudsen started a family at a very young age and needed to provide for them. “My son was six months old when I started plumbing at age 19; eight years later my daughter arrived. Family was my main drive to become successful and work the hardest I could. I wanted to provide the best environment for them that I possibly could, while setting an example of honesty, hard work and determination as an ethical backbone for success,” says Knudsen.

At that time, Knudsen didn’t have a clue about how plumbing or heating worked, or how vast and essential it really was. “Turns out that I was gifted with a solid mechanical inclination and I caught on very quickly. Within two months, AP&H put me in my own van and started having me do basic plumbing and heating service calls. From there I worked for two other companies over the course of eight years. At year five—shortly after getting my journeyman’s license—I learned I could get my own plumbing contractor licenses so I set my sights on completing that goal. This goal was big for me since I didn’t have any type of formal education. I acquired my Mechanical Administrators License in the Unlimited Plumbing category for the state of Alaska. Then I acquired my Anchorage City Contractor’s License and started working for myself.”

Knudsen has been self-employed for the past 13 years as a one-man shop, with occasional hired experienced help along the way when needed. He has done all types of work throughout his career; he started with residential service and repair work, which includes retrofit of boilers, forced air furnaces, fireplaces, water heaters, as well as regular maintenance, remodels, repairs of heating and plumbing systems.

A catalog of his work includes: Residential gas boilers including baseboard heat, radiant heat, flat plate exchangers for snow melt and pool heating, multi temp injection systems, commercial snow melt 10,000 sq. ft., 3 x 500k Knight boilers; oil boilers residential and commercial; brazed 3” copper and worked with 2” REAHU PEX; installed/replaced forced air furnaces of all types from closets to crawl spaces; HRV installation to maintain good air quality in our cold climate; retrofit/upgrade hot water system in 30 unit apartment building cut fuel and water usage by 50%; new construction on several custom homes, triplexes, duplexes, and single family homes; low voltage controls of all types. I do enjoy wiring controls; water heaters of all types and sizes; HDPE butt fusion and saddle fusion for new water supply to subdivision; multiple large generators, fuel lines, exhaust piping, fresh air supply—24” VFD fans—and ducting to exhaust radiator heat out of building; 25-unit trooper housing complex in Bethel, Alaska; and HRV for FAA Housing in Nome, Alaska.

“I didn’t rough in my first home until I was in business for myself—never did it before—just a code book and my desire to succeed. It was a 4,500-sq.-ft. home— all radiant heat, HRV, and small swimming pool. $50 dollars an hour time and material. Passed all inspections. By myself. It helps to have a teacher, but if the desire is strong enough, you can do it!”

Everett Knudsen, 907 Heating & Plumbing, plumbing, HVAC, Alaska, Hydronics, radiant, Anchorage, @907plumberAnd occasionally, he does some new construction projects here and there. “Service work is very rewarding for me. To help a homeowner resolve their heating and plumbing challenges and provide excellent customer service never gets old to me. The vast majority of customers are very happy to receive excellent service and are happy to pay for the service provided. It’s a win-win situation, I enjoy this type of situation, as does the customer.”

And that’s one the biggest ethical factors that Knudsen has based a lot of his business principals on: Treat every project as if it were his. “I put myself in the client’s shoes, asking myself the question, ‘how would I want this to go if I was the client’ or the golden rule, ‘treat others as you wish to be treated.’ I was raised with a couple of core principals—hard work and respect. Applying these principles and ethics in my plumbing career has grown into something that has provided me with numerous lessons for personal growth, and a good income as well.”

What does Knudsen love most about his job? “I love building something with my hands and mind, then having a client look at the work and saying, ‘Wow, that looks amazing; how come the other plumber didn’t do that?’”

Again, Knudsen loves the win-win aspect of the job. “I love a customer that is super appreciative and complimentary, and at the same time, I’m making a living. This career constantly gives me opportunity for professional and personal growth. It enables me to learn new plumbing techniques, learn new customer relation skills on each job, and the scene always changes with new challenges every day. I love the variety.”

Everett Knudsen, 907 Heating & Plumbing, plumbing, HVAC, Alaska, Hydronics, radiant, Anchorage, @907plumberBut what are the issues Knudsen sees in the trades that need addressing? Honesty, Integrity and Craftsmanship, says Knudsen. “These are the things that I saw missing as I was coming up in the trade, and I still see quite a bit of it missing today, especially in residential work. Too many plumbing businesses/contractors influence customers into work or products they do not need. Then do marginal quick installs to maximize profits and move to the next.

A lot of Knudsen’s learning has been on-the-job training. To him, that means the client has paid for his education as a tradesman. He does his best to honor the valuable experiences he has gained while working for clients. If there is a situation where Knudsen made a mistake due to lack of experience or making an assumption and was incorrect, he makes sure not to charge the customer for that time for two reasons: 1) They are paying for an experienced professional to resolve their problem correctly and efficiently. 2) The value of the experience will vastly outweigh the few extra dollars he would have made on that one job, by giving me the experience for the jobs to come in the future. “Doing the right thing when no one else will know is HUGE!! That is true integrity!”

Knudsen advises to do your best to take pride in your work whenever and wherever you can. “Unfortunately for plumbers and mechanical workers, our work is buried in the ground—a wall, a crawlspace, a mechanical room—where not much of its glory and existence is on display. Even so, still take the time to have a clean, proper, well-installed system, even if it is to be covered up, it is still about integrity and pride in craftsmanship,” says Knudsen.

The trades are a wonderful opportunity for young people not really sure what they want to do with themselves, says Knudsen. Regardless, adds Knudsen, young people will need to work, and getting into a trade is super valuable, not to mention they will get paid to learn. “I do not think there is another situation that can compare to the benefit of getting paid to learn a trade. A trade is not any less important than a doctor, lawyer or any of the other careers that require a college degree. For several years, in the early stages of my career, I felt less than because of my lack of schooling. Now, that lawyer whose heat is not working calls me to come fix it. Trade workers are just as smart and valuable as the next. Just because school isn’t for you doesn’t mean you’re not smart and can’t make a good living,” says Knudsen.

Work/Leisure Time Tilt

How does Knudsen balance work and leisure time? That has taken a lot of practice, says Knudsen. “But learning to say ‘no’ has been the key to that. It’s been difficult to learn that, especially being in business for myself. Even some of my longest, best customers have helped me learn this. It has been truly difficult to tell them no at times. I don’t do it often, but it happens, even so they are still my loyal customers. I’ve discovered that is the key to not having my business/schedule own me and for me to own my business/schedule. There is a right time and a wrong time to say no, but it takes practice to learn those moments to help maintain balance in life,” says Knudsen.

Everett Knudsen, 907 Heating & Plumbing, plumbing, HVAC, Alaska, Hydronics, radiant, Anchorage, @907plumberSocial media is big for Knudsen (@907plumber on Instagram). He has just gotten into social media the last couple years and overall, he says it has been wonderful. “The Instagram community is amazing IMO. Big shout out to the IG community you all ROCK!”

Knudsen was actually feeling burnt out after his second shoulder surgery and contemplating trying something different for work— not trade related. Since Instagram has been such an amazing thing because it truly brought new life into his plumbing career. All the positive feedback from people all over the country and world has impacted him in a way he has not experienced before.

The growing of the followers, winning giveaways, connecting with others who do the same things he is passionate about everyday has brought a new shining light into his life, and for that, he is forever grateful. “I’ve learned so many new things through Instagram and it grows every day. It also has helped give me more of a sense of accountability and confidence I didn’t have before. I cannot believe people want to watch little ole’ me doing my thing, but I guess they like it, and being a service provider, I like to give people what they want. Additionally, If I can encourage or motivate someone to become a better version of themselves so they can experience a better quality of life and for all who they come in contact with, that is a true blessing,” says Knudsen.

Physical Fitness

Speaking of the shoulder injury and a demanding skilled trade, Knudsen puts a heavy emphasis on fitness. “I have only really incorporated fitness into my regular routine in the last several years and I have noticed tremendous benefits. Three years ago, I had surgery on my left shoulder for torn rotator cuff and torn bicep and four years before that I had the same surgery on my right shoulder. I’ve had to do quite a bit of physical therapy to get my shoulders back in working condition. I’ve also developed some tendonitis in my elbows in the past couple years. I’ve done several sessions with a physical therapist for my elbows. The therapist essentially told me that my poor posture was contributing to my elbow pains.

Everett Knudsen, 907 Heating & Plumbing, plumbing, HVAC, Alaska, Hydronics, radiant, Anchorage, @907plumberSo now I’ve added regular fitness to maintain strength in my shoulders and core to reduce fatigue and improve posture during the day. A good portion of my exercises also incorporate strengthening muscles for good posture to reduce added stress on shoulder, elbow and wrist joints. We are constantly working on stuff right in front of our chest causing poor posture and unbalanced muscle development. This leads to fatigue, joint soreness and injuries.

“We are working in awkward positions, pushing, pulling, lifting, twisting, bending. When we are in our younger years it seems that the need for fitness is not very important. Our bodies are fresh and more resilient but the longer we are in the trades the more wear and tear on the body happens, especially after 20+ years in the field. Fitness helps increase on the job performance, stamina, reduces potential for injury, helps with mental health and focus as well.

My goal is to maintain my ability to work in the field efficiently for many years to come. Hopefully my post about fitness helps some tradespeople to avoid injuries and discomfort while adding new vigor to their work and personal life,” says Knudsen.

Everett Knudsen, 907 Heating & Plumbing, plumbing, HVAC, Alaska, Hydronics, radiant, Anchorage, @907plumberIn addition to performing better on the job, that dedication to fitness allows Knudsen enjoy the array of outdoor activities that Alaska has to offer, which include fishing for salmon and halibut, boating in the numerous sounds, inlets, bays, lakes, rivers and ocean all around Alaska, hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, exploring, snowboarding, snowmobiling, ATV adventures.

“I love outdoor activities. Much of my spare time has been spent outdoors. For many years boating, camping and fishing all around Alaska was my summer time activity. Then snowmobiling and snowboarding in the winter. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to see some of the most beautiful places and scenes Alaska has to offer while enjoying these activities.

And it’s that Alaska mystique I spoke of earlier. When asked when was the last time Knudsen said it was a great day? “I feel like it was somewhere around a week ago driving. It was just one of those days where it was crisp, clear beautiful weather, and the music was right. Thinking about all the people, experiences and moments that make me feel grateful to be alive; to have an opportunity to get to see the future unfold in front of me.”

A lot changes in a decade, but for A. Pederson’s Plumbing in Dallas, Oregon, you wouldn’t know it by looking at one of the Maxi-Rooters from General Pipe Cleaners coming off the company’s trailer. Pederson’s two Maxi-Rooters have been the company’s go-to machines for more than 10 years, and with the exception of the feed Read more

A lot changes in a decade, but for A. Pederson’s Plumbing in Dallas, Oregon, you wouldn’t know it by looking at one of the Maxi-Rooters from General Pipe Cleaners coming off the company’s trailer. Pederson’s two Maxi-Rooters have been the company’s go-to machines for more than 10 years, and with the exception of the feed bearings, they retain all their original components, including the original Flexicore® cable.

“When you look at what else is out there on the market, there’s nothing quite built like the Maxi-Rooter,” says Trenton Hargrove, plumber at A. Pederson’s Plumbing. “While other companies’ machines are predominantly plastic, the Maxi-Rooter is built like a tank. It’s a really beefy machine you can throw around and don’t have to worry about it breaking down.”

Family owned and operated since 1973, Pederson’s provides a wide range of plumbing services to Oregon’s Willamette Valley region. In recent years, the company has taken on more jobs in the commercial and industrial sectors. One such job that comes to mind for Hargrove involves a new construction site, an uncooperative line and a can of glue.

“A site had 3″ lines that were clogging up, which is uncommon for new construction,” Hargrove recalls. “A company that specializes in drain cleaning wasn’t able to figure out the problem, so we pulled the toilet and put a camera down the line. We found out someone dropped an ABS glue can down the line that glued itself to the pipe. We sent our Maxi-Rooter and ripped it right out!”

Built for portability as well as power and capacity, the USA made Maxi-Rooter rolls on 10″ ball bearing semi-pneumatic wheels and has V-belt stair climbers for easier transport up and down stairs. The machine clears roots and heavy stoppages in 3″ to 10″ lines and holds 125 feet of 3/4″ and 150 feet of 5/8″ Flexicore cable.

General’s heavy-duty Flexicore cable has a wire rope core tightly wound inside. It offers superior kinking resistance and unequalled strength with the right amount of flexibility. It’s so tough that it carries the best warranty in the business. Take a look for yourself and see it in action!

For cutting tough tree roots, Hargrove and his team use a 24″ leader at the end of the snake on the Maxi-Rooter. The flexible leader helps get around tight bends and traps and takes most of the abuse on a job, which helps preserve the integrity of the machine’s snake. Hargrove remembers one particularly daunting root job in which a giant oak tree outside a house had caused a significant line break in a 3″ pipe.

“These roots kind of make their way in there and we were probably 35 to 40 feet down the line the line,” Hargrove remembers. “With the Maxi-Rooter, we were able to clear it in 45 minutes with no problem. That’s why it’s our go-to machine!”

Pederson’s loyalty to General products goes back more than 20 years. Along with its trusty Maxi-Rooters, the company carries General’s JM-3080 gas powered water jetter and several Super-Vee small line drain cleaners in its arsenal. However, the Maxi-Rooter is a company favorite. Beyond its low maintenance and heavy-duty construction, Hargrove says the Maxi-Rooter’s sheer performance makes the machine a worthwhile investment.

“In addition to the power and mobility, we are able to clean these lines out faster, which saves our customers money,” Hargrove concludes. “We’re able to fit more jobs in our day, so we’re making more money. And when you don’t have to worry about downtime of fixing machines, it makes the Maxi-Rooter a very desirable piece of equipment to carry around.”

These days have been pretty busy for Bulldog Contractors. “When COVID first appeared, there wasn’t enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished. And once stimulus checks hit, there was a huge spike in work flow. We have been very blessed and fortunate to be working through the pandemic,” says Jeff Keller. A licensed Read more

Jeff Keller, Bulldog Contractors, plumbing, heating, septic, drain cleaning, HVACThese days have been pretty busy for Bulldog Contractors. “When COVID first appeared, there wasn’t enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished. And once stimulus checks hit, there was a huge spike in work flow. We have been very blessed and fortunate to be working through the pandemic,” says Jeff Keller.

A licensed master plumber, Keller works for his father in running Bulldog Contractors in northeast Texas. Bulldog Contractors is a well-rounded company that strives to provide a one-stop shop for its customers, and that’s why Keller specializes in service work for plumbing, electrical and septic, and carries multiple licenses in electrical and septic as well.

Yet, the career path for Keller wasn’t always defined early on. When Keller was in high school, he wanted to be a veterinarian based on his love for pets and animals. “I honestly didn’t have the grades for it, so if I had to guess, I would be in the oil field chasing that dollar,” says Keller.

But watching his father succeed in business—and life—was huge for Keller. “I honestly never thought of following in his footsteps growing up. But as I got older, and needed a summer job, I fell in love with the overall variation of different types of jobs and people I encountered on a day-to-day basis,” says Keller.

To Keller, his father was his biggest motivator. “He put me on a higher pedestal than I would have liked growing up as a kid, but in the end, it turned out very well and it kept my mindset on track. Also, some very deep guidance was from my grandfather—on my mother’s side—as well. The advice, stories, and memories that I have retained has been priceless. If I could be half the man my grandfather was …. they just don’t make them like they used to!” says Keller.

Keller has never looked back as his love for the trades has grown over the years. “In the service industry, you just never know what you are getting yourself into that day,” he says. “I like the uncertainty. The jobs are never identical. It keeps you on your toes and the mind busy,” says Keller. Oh, and as for Keller’s love for animals? “With my current career, I get to see multiple houses a day and their pets; I bond with them and that’s a cool small aspect of my day.”

Moving the Trades Forward

Concerning to Keller about the trades, though, is the quality of work and labor. “With the trades dying, so does the manpower to get projects completed. So, it’s a rat race to get in and out and onto the next one. Years or even sometimes months down the road we are fixing issues that could have been resolved if some time and quality was put into a job,” says Keller.

One of the biggest concerns for the trades overall is to infuse young, skilled labor into the trades. “It’s all about advertising and education; they go hand-in-hand. We really need to be getting into the school systems and reaching out to the youngsters. With the way this world is going at this moment, this will be a never-ending battle and a hard one to tackle. ANYTHING is possible, though!”

And when those recruits are ready, Keller suggests not going to school—unless required—to learn the trades, especially if you are going into the service industry. “What a service technician knows and understands isn’t taught in a book. Get into the trade, get your eyes and ears in the field, and become a sponge. Learn everything you can,” says Keller.

Work/Life Tilt & Spare Time

Balancing family time and work is often tough to navigate. Keller’s family understands that sometimes the phone rings and he has to take the call, yet he will always make time for them. There will be work and money to be made, regardless, says Keller and his family is the most important thing that he has and cherishes.

“Some days I make a lighter work load to pick the kids up from school and take them on a field trip, or doctor appointments. I took my middle girl, Elyse, out to ice cream the other day, just us. The little things are what they will hold onto and remember for years to come. My father did the same for me and I plan to pass that onto my family, as well. You must make time for your family because the kids will be grown and gone before you know it,” says Keller.

For Keller, though, it’s hard for him to sit still so you’ll normally find him in the shop tinkering around mostly cleaning and keeping it organized, and playing with the kids. “The same with my yard, I’ll go mow dirt if I have time! It’s my quiet place if you know what I mean. On the weekends, I enjoy my main hobby, which is fishing—mainly night fishing so the wife and kids sleep through most of it while I’m gone,” says Keller.

Social media has opened many doors for Keller that he would have never imagined. “If someone told me 10 years ago, I would be traveling all over the country—anything from factory tours to trade shows to attending early tool/product releases, I wouldn’t have believed them. I appreciate all the new friends and connections I have made. It’s a true honor.”

What people may not know about Keller is, “I’m a nerd when it comes to numbers and efficiency of my house. During a day I might check the water pressure of my house 2-3 times. Same goes for my current water heater temp—digital display on heat pump unit. And my solar input and output. I keep a close eye on efficiency.”

The last time Jeff Keller said “today is a great day”? “I took off work super early, surprised my wife and we went out and about for the day, no schedule at all.”