Heichel Plumbing Inc.
- Written by: Kelly Matlock
- Produced by: Jack Porter
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Heichel Plumbing Inc. has a good reputation; Bill Heichel, founder, owner and president of Heichel Plumbing, considers that the most important piece of the puzzle in keeping his business solvent. “You have to do a good job, and having good, loyal employees makes everything run smoothly,” states Bill. “That’s the key.”
Located in central Florida’s Winter Garden, HPI is a plumbing contractor serving commercial clients. With a quarter century in business and 75 appreciated employees, Heichel Plumbing has rebounded from the economic downturn and come back stronger than ever. Boasting a gleaming new fleet of trucks recently purchased in 2013, Bill is excited. “We’re ready to go,” he says.
In 1983, after graduating from the Pennsylvania College of Technology, Bill moved to Florida and cut his teeth working for a couple of contractors before founding Heichel Plumbing. The trade came easily to Bill, who reckons he’s a plumber first and a businessman second. After a solid decade running Heichel Plumbing, Bill started another company, JMC Concrete Cutting. Another decade brought a third company, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, a 24-7 residential plumbing service.
With the same drive as he had at the beginning, Bill gets into the shop early to make sure things run smoothly. “The coffee’s always made,” he jokes. In all seriousness, Bill says he enjoys leading trainings and giving new guys the tools they need – both educationally and literally – to get the job done right.
Heichel Plumbing has the ability to self-perform the majority of work it contracts; however, the company will subcontract out certain aspects of a job as need be, which can include welding of stainless steel gas piping, dewatering and directional boring.
After a rough couple of years weathering the recession, Bill is relieved to be running full steam again, to be pulling in revenue numbers on par with its pre-recession years, and to be debt-free. “We own the business,” Bill says. “We own our trucks. We owe no money. Those were a tough three years, but going forward we are optimistic.”
Some of the jobs undertaken by Heichel Plumbing come with a big price tag, like the recent completion of a $3 million, three-yearlong high school plumbing contract. The team at Heichel Plumbing experiences a wide variety of work, and is sometimes treated like royalty.
As the go-to plumber for Wet ‘n Wild water parks since the late ’80s, Heichel Plumbing has been called in for numerous jobs. The crew was flown out to the marine base in San Diego due to its work at Wet-Wild; Heichel Plumbing was contracted to add salt water chlorine generators to their pools. In addition to water parks, the company has done a tremendous amount of work on Disney resorts – the Port Orleans, Contemporary, Polynesian and Coronado Springs Resort – theme parks and water rides.
Recently, the company was the lead plumbing contractor on the extensive, 18-monthlong construction of the New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World in Orlando. This meant taking down the outdated 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea ride and building new venues such as Be Our Guest, which is the largest table service restaurant on Disney property. Working on propulsion fountains in a grotto is a far cry from another day shuffling papers in a cubicle.
Heichel Plumbing has been busy in the past year. The crew has been working on the Nova South East University, the Orange County Correctional Facility, as well as the University of Central Florida. Additionally, longtime, repeat customer, Universal Studios, has enjoyed the company’s work. It is evident that Heichel Plumbing is making its mark, as the team started more than 200 jobs in 2013.
Success for all Seasons
Heichel Plumbing is like a perennial plant, thriving all year long. Bill would know, as he is the host of a local home and garden radio talk show every Saturday morning, helping listeners keep their property in tip-top shape. Fortunately, Bill enjoys the livelihood he has and running a business that keeps others employed. While Bill notes that the bottom line is a real good place to measure success, he also uses employee retention as an indicator. Loyal and happy employees stick around and take pride in each day’s work; and the 12 new rigs also go a long way in boosting employee morale.
Bill is willing to continually invest in his company in the form of new equipment and technology, and it’s this investment that keeps Heichel Plumbing at the forefront of its industry. Bill notes that his biggest expenses are labor, fuel and trucks, but he knows that as a business owner, he has to put good in to get good out. Yet the equation continues to work for Bill; the company continues to churn a profit and earn the respect of its customers and community at large. “Reputation is everything,” acknowledges Bill, who can rest assured – customers have been coming back to Heichel Plumbing Inc. for the past quarter century.
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