The black vans with the distinctive retro logos are eye-catching, but Jeff Smithson and Jenn Barrett of Edgewater Plumbing and Heating say their emphasis on customer service is what has helped their business grow.
“The customer always comes first,” Smithson said, adding that the couple and their employee, Robin Hoeger, put an emphasis on being polite and professional.
Because their work involves repairs and service to existing homes rather than installing lines in new construction, good customer relationships are key, he said.
When they hired their employee, the couple looked for someone who would fit with their values.
Hoeger has turned out to be a good fit for the business. “He’s one of the most polite guys I’ve ever met,” Smithson said. “He was taught well.”
The couple started the plumbing company four years ago, when they moved to the Okanagan Valley from Surrey.
At first, they lived in Penticton, but they enjoyed coming to Summerland. When the opportunity presented itself, they purchased a home in Summerland.
“We lived in Penticton but we were always here,” Barrett said. “There was something drawing us to Summerland.”
Starting a business in a new town has been a challenge, and when they were leaving Surrey some friends warned them against setting up in a small community.
But Smithson and Barrett wanted to move to the Okanagan and operate a business here, so they took steps to get their business noticed.
One of the first steps was the logo, which Smithson designed. The design, on the two work vans and on work T-shirts Smithson and Hoeger wear, has attracted some attention.
They also put an emphasis on providing good service.
“Do a really good job for someone and they’ll tell two people,” he said. “Do a bad job and they’ll let the world know.”
Smithson said his decision to become a plumber started early on, as he has had a lifelong interest in mechanical things.
As a boy, he pulled apart his mother’s washing machine and also opened up the hot water tank in the house, resetting the water temperature.
“I’m lucky I didn’t electrocute myself,” he said.
In high school, he developed an interest in plumbing and after he graduated, he got into the trade.
In 2008, he and Barrett met through plumbing, when he was working at a job at her mother’s home.
Barrett said there was another connection since her father, who had passed away before, knew Smithson and had earlier hired him to work for a plumbing company he owned and operated.
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