For years, Jeremy Buie worked in Houston as a union plumber. He then transitioned to working for a local plumbing company in Livingston for a time. In 2007, with encouragement from his wife Andrea, Jeremy obtained his journeyman’s license and opened his own company. Andrea’s uncle, Bob Bird, who was a master plumber, worked with them until Jeremy could obtain his master license.
“My dentist Dr. Jenke, who is also my neighbor, was my first customer,” says Jeremy. “He stopped by the house and said he had a busted pipe at his office. He is still a customer today.”
Within 6 months, the phones were steadily ringing, and Jeremy knew he had to have help. A 10’x12’ shed in his yard became the headquarters for two years. For the next five years, they rented a building on the west side of Livingston. Then, on the advice of the late Joe Pedigo, the Buies acquired a building in downtown Livingston. “Mr. Pedigo was a great mentor to me,” recalled Jeremy fondly. “He believed in me and encouraged me from before I even opened the business. He was always calling to check on us and to urge us on.”
Locally, the Buies acquired Action Plumbing in Huntsville October 1, 2020, and have hit the ground running, rebranding with The Plumber logo and name. Currently, Jeremy runs the Huntsville location, and a general manager handles the Livingston location. While an acquisition means an instant customer base, learning how to effectively structure, train, and effectively delegate in a growing operation is an ongoing process and challenge. “Hiring good plumbers is difficult,” says Jeremy, “especially this close to Houston.”
The Buies were pleasantly surprised at how receptive and supportive the community has been since their arrival. “We know how folks can tend to be suspicious of businesses coming in from out of town, but everyone has been very welcoming.”
You’ve heard of trial by fire? Well, The Plumber got trial by freeze with this year’s record-breaking event. “We were short-staffed, but thankfully had pre-purchased enough supplies to get us through the first two weeks. In a two-week span, the Huntsville location received over 1600 phone calls!
The Plumber wants to be your full-service plumbing experts for residential, commercial, service, and maintenance needs. They are available 24/7/365 and offer the Hero’s Discount—10% off all services for police, fire, rescue, military, educators, and churches. Their service area for the Huntsville operations includes Madisonville, Trinity, New Waverly, and points beyond.
A new offering launched by The Plumber is their Green Shield Protection Program, an ongoing preventive maintenance program which includes water heater flush and check, water pressure test, toilet leak testing and adjustments, faucets and hoses inspection, and a water quality test. Program members also receive no regular trip fees, discounted repair pricing, and priority scheduling.
When asked what has driven his growth and success, Jeremy stated, “I just enjoy helping people. It gives me great satisfaction to go into someone’s home, solve a problem for them, and have them be happy about it.”
He expanded, “Customer satisfaction is a big deal. I train people to my standards, which are very high—not something everyone is used to.”
Visibility in the community is another key component. Jeremy shared, “Years ago, I only had one truck, and it was before current vehicle wrap technology. I had it labeled front to back where it stood out, though. People would tell me, ‘I see your trucks all over town.’ So, I knew that worked.” The Buies developed their own logo, which has evolved over the years into the lime green version that brands their vehicles and locations. They also strategically selected locations in Livingston and Huntsville in the historic downtowns, seeing ongoing value in both community investment and top-of-mind presence/awareness with community members. While a lot of service businesses look for cheap property at the edge of town, says Jeremy, “We want to be front and center.”
Among the high standards Jeremy values is cleanliness. He impresses upon his team that appearance matters, whether it’s personal or your vehicle, and whether it’s the first service call of the day or the last. Even though the job may be dirty, the employee should take care to be clean and professional and wear shoe covers when working in homes to avoid tracking in. And, when your vehicle is part of your branding, cleanliness and organization is essential. Says Jeremy, “I can tell a lot about a plumber by the way he keeps his truck.”
Currently, The Plumber in Livingston shares a building with Petalz by Annie, Andrea’s floral business. But Jeremy laughingly said he’s giving her the boot because he needs more space. Andrea will soon move her business to another building downtown.
The couple recently bought the old Fain Theater building in downtown Livingston and hopes to begin work on restoring the historic fixture in the future.
They also acquired All Star Home Services in Livingston four years ago, a carpet, tile, chimney cleaning, and restoration company (whose orange logo and branding marks it as conspicuously as does The Plumber’s lime green). Jeremy said this seemed to go hand-in-hand with the plumbing repairs because damage mitigation and restoration needs of customers often happen concurrently.
Jeremy and Andrea have two children, ages 17 and 6. “That’s what happens when you start up your own businesses,” laughed Jeremy. Andrea added, “Yep. We didn’t see each other for eleven years.”
“Anyone can tell you I can’t do it without Annie (Andrea), Jeremy stated. “She can do it all, and she’s good at all of it. She’s starting to put more into her floral business, and it’s driving me crazy, because I want her to come back and work with me.”
“Our employees are great as well,” he added. “Some contractors are afraid to hire anyone smarter than them, but not me. I want people who can take us farther than I could alone.”
Both are quick to credit God for blessing them richly. “From day one, we’ve never had a slow day; it’s always been busy, busy, busy.”