Case Studies

Collins Plumbing Inc.

Providing turnkey plumbing services to the West Coast

Richard Collins founded Collins Plumbing Inc. (CPI) in 1976 and incorporated the business in 1979. He grew up in the construction industry before entering the United States Navy. After four years of service, he returned to civilian life and started working as a commercial plumber. Drawing from his experience in both the construction industry and the military, Richard established his business on a simple premise: to build a reputation for consistent, quality work with fair and equitable pricing. He has followed through on that goal, attracting a diverse commercial customer base around the company’s headquarters in La Mesa, Calif.

Today Richard employs approximately 50 people, many of which are skilled and experienced master plumbers. His team works exclusively on commercial new construction projects. Clients include general contractors and property owners, as well as municipalities, local and federal governments. In order to continue serving a diverse market, Richard aims to keep his team ahead of industry trends, regulations and best practices. The company is associated with several trade organizations that provide support, networking and educational opportunities.

Full-service solutions

The CPI team offers capabilities that serve clients throughout the construction process. The business works inside and outside of a new structure to connect everything from the water main to the break room faucet. The company takes care of site water, plumbing and piping, as well as site sewer. Examples include hooking water mains up to the mainframe, building interior systems such as piping, fixtures and vents, as well as outdoor sewage systems for stormwater, sanitary mains and drainage.

Richard and his team offer design-build work to clients, utilizing CAD and BIM technology to bid, design, coordinate and build these complicated systems. The CAD system allows the business to integrate 3-D modeling into plans, improving precision and efficiency later on in the process. BIM capabilities help the team to better communicate with clients and strategic partners, as well as other subcontractors. Trades on each project are able to build better, more efficient workflow, saving money and time for owners and general contractors.

The company’s proven capabilities have attracted business from a diverse customer base. CPI recently completed work on a Building Q for Qualcomm, a huge communications company that sponsors Qualcomm stadium. The crew has been involved with several casino projects in the region, including the Valley View Casino and the Pachanga Casino.

“We also did a casino for the Quechan Indian Tribe,” Richard recalls. “This has been my favorite project that we’ve done because it was so big. We started in the middle of the desert and eventually earned a Subcontractors Award for it from the American Builders and Contractors.”

Staying ahead

CPI has been able to maintain growth in recent years, despite a dip during the recession. “We were lucky and had landed a big military project at Camp Pendleton,” Richard notes. “We didn’t really feel it until 2009 or 2010. I feel really positive about the coming year. We have a lot of great backlog, including a 48-story downtown tower. We’ll be working on some nice commercial buildings, one in La Jolla, and some medical industry work. We’re also doing some industrial work for Sharpe.”

The company has built lasting relationships with clients, whether property owners or general contractors. Richard and his team strive to meet changing market needs, ensuring that customers can trust and rely on CPI for top-of-the-line service and quality work. Part of this success with clients goes further down the line to suppliers. Richard is cautious about who his team works with for materials, equipment and subcontractors. The company’s purchasing agent controls relationships with subcontractors. CPI tends to use the same suppliers over and over, because Richard notes, plumbing industry wholesalers don’t change much.

The most important relationships for the company’s success, however, are with employees. Richard knows his team is dependable, safe and efficient and he strives to reward his crew for its efforts. In 2007, the company started an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). Today, employees own 49 percent of the business. The program offers the staff greater stake in the business and encourages employees to focus on, and work for, the company’s growth.

“I have the best people in San Diego,” Richard explains. “We have people on our staff who have worked with us for more than 20 years. They help us push forward and we are seeing improvements every quarter.”

In the coming years, Richard would like to see the business grow by 50 percent. With a strong reputation for quality and safety, Collins Plumbing Inc. is on the right track to meet that goal.

Published on: August 22, 2014


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