When he is not performing wildcats on his snowboard or running ollies on his skateboard, Nick Parlet @plumbingsk8r keeps busy with his residential service plumbing company, Tidy Pipes Plumbing, Webster, N.Y.
As a third-generation union plumber, Parlet’s dad and his grandfather encouraged him to join and learn the trade, so at the age of 22, Nick joined the local plumbing union. Nick began doing two years of pre-apprentice work and then started his five-year apprenticeship. After five years of schooling, Nick became a journeyman and worked commercial new build construction. Parlet eventually ended up working in the commercial plumbing service, and after doing that for many years—as well as doing side jobs for family and friends—he decided to open his own residential plumbing company, Tidy Pipes Plumbing.
“To be honest, I didn’t know if there was ever a time that I was certain about going on my own; however, with growing on social media with Plumbingsk8r and meeting a ton of great people in the industry, it was clear that there was more money to be made owning your own. My wife and I—spur of the moment—bought a truck on a random Tuesday, and the rest was history,” says Parlet.
Being on his own with the new company came a new wave of excitement knowing that each call Parlet received would grow his business further. “Interacting with my own customers was really exciting; I felt a greater sense of accomplishment and purpose for each job that I went to,” says Parlet.
Joining the union proved beneficial for Parlet. “There are many benefits as a union member, especially for those going into the trades young. They offer coverage for health and dental insurance, as well as retirement options and pension plans. There is also the perk of having your education and schooling provided for you if you go through the full apprenticeship program. It’s just nice knowing there is a group of people keeping your best interest in mind when you are first coming into the trade,” says Parlet.
For those interested in getting started in the trades, “Go for it!” says Parlet. “Consider the benefits for your future and remember that the trades pay. It is knowledge that will never go out of style. Tradesmen will always be import in the future and AI can’t take your job.”
So how does this translate to how we as an industry getting more people interested in the trades? “If there was more focus on the money to be made, I think there would be a lot more interest. There are always jokes about plumbers, and they have this stigma surrounding them that they are low paying job, but in reality you can make the same amount and in many cases more than someone who is 3-5 years out of college,” says Parlet.
Believing in the notion that stress is a killer, Parlet is trying to stay level headed about keeping the right work life balance. First and foremost, Nick loves spending time with his wife and kids, and he knows full well that he does not want to shave a few years off his short time on earth just to make a few extra bucks. “Starting my company has been very challenging for balancing everything because I want to please all of my customers, and that sometimes means working late and working weekends, but I am confident that this is just part of the start-up process,” says Parlet.
As time went on, the confidence grew. And, once Nick started growing on social media and was asked to be part of the Oatey ambassador program, he says he met so many great people, good friends to this day that all became mentors.
“My buddy Thomas Young, aka TYCustoms, Nick from Cheddars Plumbing Co, Jake from MotherFlushers, and Roger Wakefield all instilled a lot of confidence in me and really made me realize that I was capable of owning my own company as well. I hope to be a role model in showing the younger generation that there are other options besides college and that the trades are always growing and need workers,” says Parlet.
“Huge shout out to everyone at Oatey, by the way! Amanda, Alyssa, Katherine, and Tyler, you guys are awesome! They have really helped to push me further into the spotlight of the plumbing social media community and for that I am very thankful. Because of Oatey I was able to meet some of my best friends today.”
Speaking on the importance of social media, “About a year and a half ago, my good friend Brian was constantly sending me TikTok plumbing videos through text messages,” recalls Parlet. “After a few times of clicking the links, I was locked out of watching the TikTok videos unless I downloaded the app. So, I downloaded the app and without putting any thought into the name so I created @plumbingsk8r.
“At that time, I was really only posting on my personal Instagram page. One day I was bored, I posted what I did at work to my Instagram story. I was shocked at the response I got from my friends that were not in the trades. My friends were actually interested in what I did for a living and would often ask me for help with their own plumbing issues. I started putting a little more though into filming my plumbing videos and edits. One night, Brian told me I should post one of my videos to the TikTok and I was a little hesitant at first but I eventually did. The next morning, I woke up at my video had 75,000 views. I was shocked. I posted another one and it didn’t do so good. I posted one more and that one took off as well.
“Every day, I would post what I did at work and I started to gain a little following. I reached out to other plumbing content creators and ended up building some good friendships. We would talk a lot about content creating but also about being a business owner. A lot of them sparked the idea of opening my own company at that time. I enjoy everything about plumbing, including meeting other people who are more knowledgeable about the trade than me. Social media has become a tool I’ve been able to use to learn more than I ever thought I could about the plumbing and the business side of things.
“There have been so many times I’m on a job and think to myself. ‘I bet TY would know the answer to why this is doing that.’ So, I call up my buddy that lives on the other side of the country and sure enough he knows exactly what I’m talking about.
“As for the time I put into my videos today, I try to post at least once a day. I try to film jobs that at different such as pouring a lead joint because you do see that very often. The filming process does not take much extra time but the editing and cross posting process can take anywhere from 30 mins to five hours per video. If I don’t feel creatively motivated, I will not edit or post that day. In a sense, social media has become a 2nd job for me but it’s a job that I can do when I feel like it so there is no pressure. I’m just having fun with it and meeting as many people as I can,” says Parlet.
In conclusion, when Nick started his plumbing career in commercial new construction, he felt as if he was not challenged enough. “I learned a lot about installation but not as much about what I was actually installing. In order to be a good service plumber, you need to know how everything works in order to properly diagnose and fix the problem. “Every service call that I go on has its own challenges and when I find the solution to the problem, fix the issue and put a smile on my customers face, that is the rewarding part.”
Oh, and that name @plumbngsk8r? “I have been skateboarding since I was 10 years old and I still really enjoy skating and filming with my friends,” says Parlet.
You’ll see Nick if you attend the 2024 WWETT Show, KBIS in Vegas, “and I was recently picked to attend the RIDGID Experience, which I am extremely excited about, and I’m hoping to get to the ‘holy grail’ of power tools event, the Milwaukee Pipeline.
What I keep on me at all times
• Utility knife
• 6-in. 1 screw driver
• High quality pocket flashlight
• Milwaukee marks all marker
Always in the bag hand tools
•Channel Locks / Knipex Plier wrench
• Needle nose Cresent Wrench (Ferguson brand – Raptor)
• 16 ft. tape
Power tools I use almost daily
• Milwaukee auto cutter
• RIDGID Snake (preferably a K-50)
• RIDGID Press tool (RP-115)