Plumbing Jobs From A To Z

Jay Foster still relies on the advice his father gave him years ago. Amanda C. Gregg photos

Jay Foster still relies on the advice his father gave him years ago. Amanda C. Gregg photos

By Jay Foster
Owner, Got Plumbing?

How did you get started in this business and how long has it been going? I was interested in natural energy before I came over in 1993, and when I got here, the island was a mess and there was a lot of work in the building trade, so I took a job installing solar hot-water heaters. I learned how to solder and run copper pipe, and caught on very fast because I was providing a service not only to people but also to the planet.

I felt great at the end of each day knowing that I was doing my part to help global warming and trying to secure a life for our future generations.

After about a year, my work partner was with the union and got called back to work. I was on my own and wanted to further my education in plumbing, so I got an interview with his employer and started a week later.

From there, I worked my way up the ladder from first-step apprentice to 10th, then to journeyman and then contractor. I have been in business since 2005.

Where are you from originally and what role does that play in your business, if any? Originally I am from Rhode Island and grew up in the suburbs of Coventry. My dad was a salesman and a very good motivational speaker.

He believed that you could achieve anything if you just put your mind to it. Now that I read this, it sounds like The Secret. My mom was like Betty Crocker, always baking and cooking, arts and crafts. Times were good for a while, and then money got tight and the family unit falls apart. I saw many people struggle trying to make ends meet. The hardest part was seeing my parents go through the hard times. I also have two older brothers who were getting into trouble stealing cars and breaking into houses.

This is probably what shaped my business senses into what they are today: You need to be proactive in going out there and getting work, and you exhaust all your resources. And then you throw your hands in the air and say, “God, it’s in your hands now.”

What is your specialty?

My business is plumbing, and we do new construction, remodels, commercial and residential.

We do service and repair, big and small installation, solar hot water, cooling towers, LP gas, water filtration, large and small backflow preventers, pressure-reducing valves, and also sewer camera and locating sewer lines. Anybody who is thinking of remodeling or is a big or small contractor looking for a bid on an upcoming job, track housing, condo complex, homeowner with questions, call. I will be happy to help.

What sets your business apart? My dad used to tell me, “Do it right or don’t do it at all.” He had a quote for everything. I think what sets me apart is that I have large goals, lots of drive, always trying to get my foot in the door with large contractors, and also the challenge to succeed. I love a challenge. You have to keep your finger on the pulse of the economy and people to keep ahead of the ups and downs.

Safety is a big issue. Mistakes can cost you years.

What motivates you to go to work every day? My motivation is my children. They are my bosses, metaphorically speaking. My boss is the little girl at home saying, “Daddy, why is there no food in the house?” or “Why don’t I have good clothes to wear?” or “Why can’t I go to college with my friends?”

What is your business philosophy/motto? My philosophy is common sense. I’ve heard it said that common sense is so rare these days that it should be considered to be a super power. Communication is very important to let the customer or contractor know what the situation is before proceeding. If you need help, ask for help. Nobody has all the answers or is infallible.

What is most challenging aspect of your business? The most challenging aspect is making sure you have enough workload to carry you through the year. You need to be diversified, and always changing and growing with the ever-changing economy. There are two board games that we used to play as kids: Monopoly and Life.

Combine the two and that is what we go through day to day – not exactly, but close enough.

What is your business plan for the future? My business plan is to continue to grow, getting bigger contracts moving forward in a fluid motion – to eventually have enough money to invest in a retirement of some kind, or at least have an exit plan. Construction is hard on the body, and doing it for as long as I have, you start to feel the body say, “Slow down.” In business, you are taught to have an exit plan if you retire or not.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I have always loved the ocean, and if I was not doing this I would be doing marine biology with a minor in archeology, or helping to keep the ocean from being fished out, or also finding some lost galleons and doing a little treasure hunting.

Where can people learn more?

By calling 652-1295, emailing jamesfoster@hawaii.rr.com or visiting gotplumbing.com.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • email