Baker Brothers Plumbing & Air Conditioning
- Written by: Matt Dodge
- Produced by: Victor Martins
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Baker Brothers Plumbing & Air Conditioning is a third-generation, family-owned plumbing and HVAC service provider that has been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area for more than 70 years.
The company offers a full range of plumbing and HVAC installation, maintenance and repair. Baker Brothers offers emergency plumbing services and fixture installation and repair as well as water filtration system installation and a litany of related services such as sewer line repair, water and gas leak detection and trenchless sewer line repair.
Serving the residential market, Baker Brothers works throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area with a fleet of 90-plus service trucks on the road. The company employs 190 from its Dallas headquarters and an additional 10 at a satellite office in Fort Worth.
A legacy of innovation
Founded in 1945 as a Roto Rooter franchise, Baker Brothers was a collaboration between the eponymous brothers and Robert Tiner who, at 17, had become the youngest Master Plumber in the state of Texas. The Bakers ran the drain cleaning side of the business while Tiner oversaw the plumbing division, tackling any issues that could not be solved with the Roto Rooter.
The company dissolved its relationship with Roto Rooter in the mid-80s and the business hit a rough patch due to a flagging economy and the arrival of big-box home improvement retailers. It was during this period that Robert’s son-in-law Jim Dale took over the family business and started preparing the company for the future.
At that point in its history, Baker Brothers had three trucks on the road and a modest $350,000 in sales. Robert’s tenure as owner marked a turning point for Baker Brothers as he made the fateful decision to invest in emerging technology, purchasing a video camera that allowed the company to carve out a niche in investigating under-slab sewer and water leaks for insurance companies.
“We had one of the first video cameras and by 1994 we were almost wholly out of the service side of the business,” says Jimmie Dale, Robert’s son and third-generation owner of Baker Brothers. By 2000, the company had grown to 18 trucks and $4 million in sales, largely owing to leak detection work for the insurance industry.
When changes in the insurance industry saw leak detection work begin to dry up in the early 2000s, Baker Brothers returned to the home service sector. Jimmie bought out his father’s stake in the company in 2008 and already grown sales at the family business nearly ninefold to more than $35 million today.
Tankless water heater and toilet installations represent a majority of Baker Brothers work, accounting for 300 and 450 installations a month, respectively. “We also still have all the cameras and that technology, as well as pipe-pulling and bursting,” says Jimmie.
An increasingly popular technique also known as trenchless placement, the pipe-pulling operation allows Baker Brothers to install subterranean pipes without the need for messy, inconvenient trench work. “You just dig a hole at each end of a 100-foot run and pull a pipe between two holes,” he says.
With an emphasis on the core values of trust, care and quality, Jimmie and the Baker Brothers team pride themselves on offering a superior level of customer service without the high-pressure sales tactics common to the industry.
“Our guys are super customer service-oriented and will try to give you options of thing so that you have a choice. Everyone is different: you might plan on living there for the rest of your life or maybe expect to be transferred in two or three months so everyone has a different goal and price point,” he says.
Jimmie uses the example of a leaky faucet to illustrate how Baker Brothers works to give customers ample information and options. “Say you have a leaky faucet, we would say, here is the price to repair the faucet, here is the price for a new faucet and here is the price to replace everything in this area,” says Jimmie. “We’re not trying to upsell you, but we give you the information and let you choose because that’s how people like to make decisions.”
Managing a dream
Jimmie is particularly proud of his company’s commitment to its mission statement and core values, which he kept intentionally simple as to allow employees to easily internalize the lessons. “It’s really simple: the customer wins, you win and the company wins. If all of those wins are happening, we have a model that will last long into the future,” he says.
Baker Brothers’ commitment to its core values and mission statement isn’t the only thing that set the company apart. In a move inspired by a book of business parables, Baker Brothers has hired a so-called Dream Manager to help increase employee investment in the company’s mission. “The idea is that if you stop having employees work for a paycheck and have them work for a dream, they come to work differently and there is more engagement,” he says.
The Dream Manager is equal parts counselor, financial planner and even travel agent. He assists the company’s employees in establishing and sticking to a personal budget, plan trips and of course, actualize dreams. “He opens 35 savings accounts a year, puts them on budgets and does some really cool stuff,” says Jimmie.
Dreams are an important part of the company culture at Baker Brothers and are fully on display at the company’s headquarters where a television screen constantly cycles through personal goals that employees are working to achieve with the help of the Dream Manager.
“One guy has a dream to take his family to the Grand Canyon, so the Dream Manager helped him figure out where to stay, what his budget would be and how much money he needed to save to make it happen,” says Jimmie.
Baker Brothers was recently honored as one of the Top 100 Places to Work by the Dallas Morning News and Jimmie is proud of building a company that is thought of fondly not only by its employees, but customers as well. “We’re always asking ourselves how we can make everything more user-friendly,” he says. “Right now we’re just focused on being the best we can and looking for innovation in what we do.”
With a strong track record stretching back more than 70 years in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, Baker Brothers Plumbing & Air Conditioning will remain a major player in North Texas.
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