We recently connected with Rick Vazza and have shared our conversation below.
Rick , appreciate you joining us today. So, let’s start with a hypothetical – what would you change about the educational system?
Students need to be introduced to the trades as a career opportunity. The trade offer rewarding work that combines complex problem solving, customer service skills, the ability to use interesting tools, and the joys of completing tangible work. Additionally the trades offer competitive pay due to the high demand caused from the current labor shortage. Data suggests the average age of a plumber in the US is over 40 years old, with some citations suggesting this number to be even higher. This presents an incredible opportunity for someone coming out of high school to enter the work force and hit the ground running. They can develop practical skills, avoid the staggering amounts of debt many of their peers will take on, and begin earning for themselves and their families immediately.
As the pains of student loans continue to be at the forefront of scrutiny, I think the trades will become an increasingly popular alternative for many around the country. And deservingly so, this is amazing and needed work!
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Rick Vazza and I am the owner of John Padilla Plumbing. We are a fantastic and highly rated plumbing company providing service, repair and installation work to residential and commercial customers across San Diego, California. In 2022 we won awards including Top Plumbers in San Diego by Expertise.com; Neighborhood Favorite by Nextdoor; and we were even selected as one of three finalists for the customer service award amongst all businesses within the San Diego Chamber of Commerce.
Prior to acquiring John Padilla Plumbing, I worked in the finance industry for a decade – part of the time in a corporate environment and most recently running my own financial planning firm for a few years. I’ve taken the financial planning approach to our plumbing service – our team excels by focusing on educating our clients on what is causing their problem and providing the pros and cons of solutions available to address them. Our experienced team can handle just about any plumbing issue a customer runs into. Common solutions include helping with water heaters, kitchens, bathrooms, sewer repairs, gas and water piping, drains and a growing part of our business includes water filtration due to the poor water quality we experience in San Diego.
The aspect of our business I am most proud of is our ability to grow our team over the past two years in a challenging business climate. Our company mission is to be the best place to work in San Diego. We believe if we take excellent care of our team, they will in turn take excellent care of our customers. So far, this philosophy has worked well for us as we’ve nearly 7’xed our five star customer reviews in two years. We’ve been blessed to work with amazing customers across the county who kindly report back on the experiences they’ve had. We know nobody enjoys needing to call a plumber and we take pride in making this process as efficient as possible. From customer text notifications, pictures of our team, and timely email updates – we’ve embraced technology to develop a first class experience.
Have you ever had to pivot?
When I first acquired the company we were also providing HVAC services. I realized at the time, we were too small to be excellent as both of these different trades. We don’t just want to provide “good service”, we want to provide the best service. Our team was more experienced in plumbing and we made the decision to close down our HVAC division and focus only on plumbing. I can say confidently we now boast some of the most talented plumbers in San Diego that are absolute masters of their craft. This singular focus has allowed us to better prioritize our training to help the team develop their skills even further. While this was a difficult decision at the time, it is one I now look back on as a major catalyst to our current success.
Let’s talk M&A – we’d love to hear your about your experience with buying businesses
I acquired John Padilla Plumbing to begin 2021. While I had no plumbing background, I had spent the previous few years as a financial advisor focusing on small business consulting. John had over 40 years of plumbing experience and in 2010 he and his son launched John Padilla Plumbing, spending the next decade successfully growing an amazing company with a strong reputation. John and I recognized we had complimenting skills sets – I could focus on the business operations and hire him back to help with our training and team skill development.
The process has been wonderful as I love working with and learning from John. He had already built a remarkable company and I was able to use my business background to optimize some of our processes. With these tasks off his plate, he’s been able to set his attention on our training and I truly believe he’s developed the BEST apprentice program available in San Diego.
Key to the process has been a mutual respect for one another along with a deep appreciation on my end of what John has already been able to accomplish.