Plumbers Keep You Healthy
Versatility is key to Plumb-Rite Plumbing, Heating & Cooling’s success
Plumb-Rite Plumbing, Heating & Cooling (Plumb-Rite) of Edison, New Jersey, was founded by Tom Fallon, a fiercely independent New Jersey native. His company has been providing commercial and residential new plumbing and fitouts, as well as service and maintenance work to offices, restaurants, medical facilities, warehouses and more since 1983.
It’s no surprise that Tom started a plumbing company; “hands on” work had always come easy to him. “I was 13 or 14 when I started thinking and worrying about my future,” he says. “While I enjoyed school, I decided to go to Middlesex County Vocational & Technical Schools to learn a trade. I thought learning a trade would help me make a good life for myself. I was determined to run an honest and successful business.”
Tom’s life changed at Middlesex County Vocational & Technical Schools when he found his mentor, William (Bill) Turkus. “Bill was teaching the plumbing courses, and we hit it off.”
In 1983, Tom won the gold at the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA, now known as SkillsUSA) plumbing competition in New Jersey. “It was such a great experience earning that medal,” he says. “After I won, I went to the national competition in Louisville, Kentucky. I was both surprised and thrilled that President Reagan was there, and that he spoke about the importance of the trades.” The President’s speech gave Tom more confidence to go into the plumbing field.
That same year, Tom and Bill opened Plumb-Rite. “I heard that Bill wanted to start a business, and I boldly asked him if I could work for him,” Tom says. “Bill was kind and told me I could work with him, not for him, and I became his apprentice.” So, Tom, under the mentorship of Bill, began his plumbing career.
What’s in a Name?
The first job was to come up with the name for the business. “I remember Bill and I sitting in my living room, saying ‘plumb-something,’” says Tom. “We eventually decided on Plumb-Rite because it showed our commitment to doing things the right way, not the easy way.”
Eventually, Plumb-Rite became a family business. “My mother, Joan, was brilliant and had worked for big corporations, so she took over the administrative side,” says Tom, who recalls that his mom would stay up late at night hand-typing invoices. “My dad, Jim, also helped with the business. And my brother, Mike, eventually joined the business, which he still manages. They were there to help me build the business.” Today, Tom and Mike, and Tom’s wife, Kathleen, are the family members still with the company.
Five years later, it was time for Tom to apply for his master plumber license. “The first-time pass rate was quite low at that time,” Tom says. He passed the test the first time with flying colors. “It was a very proud moment for me. People don’t understand that plumbing and HVAC are intense specialties—not only do you think about the plumbing, but you have to think about the entire structure and how people will live or work in the space. How will this layout affect the future functioning of the system? Is there a more efficient, economical way to perform the job, in the best ‘workman-like’ manner possible?”
Living a Code of Ethics
Tom’s first project still holds special meaning for him. “My first professional job was plumbing a 300,000-square-foot warehouse in Edison,” he says. “The place had 10 bathrooms, 16 roof drains, hundreds of feet of storm drainage, and plumbing and natural gas piping.” Tom remained good friends with the builder on this project for over 32 years, until he died at the age of 99.
These experiences helped forge Tom’s professional code. “My team and I are professionals who take pride in performing high-quality work and going above and beyond for our clients,” Tom says. “Even if that means telling the client what they don’t want to hear. If it’s the right thing to do, we do it.”
Nearly 40 years later, Plumb-Rite is still going strong. “And now, we have 12 highly trained professionals, some who have been with us for over 25 years,” says Tom, who explains they have several service technicians and installers. “We all take pride in our work, and our main priority is customer satisfaction.”
Tom speaks about the people who make up his company often. “They are the heart of our business. Without them, we wouldn’t have the great reputation that we enjoy.”
Above all, he collaborates very closely with his employees. “We work together to orchestrate the job cleanly, respectfully, efficiently and safely,” Tom says. “Our mission is to help our team of professionals be the best they can be. It takes years of experience to learn the trade, and we are proud to guide them through their career.”
Plumbing Protects Health
Tom is passionate about his trade, which he calls “an art,” although he admits that it is often underappreciated.
“In my office, I have an old sign, probably from the ’30s or ’40s,” says Tom. “It says ‘Plumbers protect the health of a nation.’ And it’s true—without our trade, there wouldn’t be clean water, proper waste disposal and gas heating, etc.”
He continues. “I say this because it’s important to work with a qualified person who is trained and licensed to do the work and who actually cares about the work.”
“The thing about plumbing is that, over time, you are able to foresee potential problems in design and architecture.” He explains that this ability adds value for his clients. “We can save our clients or contractors time and money by coming up with creative solutions,” he says. “We respect the fact that they are working on a specific timeframe and budget. And, we understand that they need to get the work done efficiently.”
One way Plumb-Rite stays efficient is through the use of iPads. “All of our technicians have them,” Tom says. “We are able to see the work they did, the materials they used and project log updates. We send these to the client so everyone stays on the same page.”
Being on that “same page” with the clients or other contractors on-site is important. “We call ahead of time and stay in communication throughout the day, especially on commercial jobs,” Tom says. “We know we’re only one part of the construction team and that many other tradespeople rely on us.”
Maybe it’s this ability to think holistically about a project, or maybe it’s Tom’s passion about plumbing that draws clients in. “Our list of clients is pretty interesting. We can work on a small home one day and then lay the pipe for a Hobby Lobby the next,” says Tom. “And, 98% of our work comes from repeat business. In fact, we have one builder who has used us on every project since 1985!
“We have survived all of the economic storms by being versatile,” he continues. “Our versatility stems from being proficient and professional in both commercial and residential work. And, we are willing and able to handle small projects and efficiently take larger ones. There’s no work that we can’t do.”