In preparation for our upcoming Family Owned Fridays (or #FOF) social media campaign, we decided to take an inside look at what it is that sets family owned businesses apart from the crowd. U.S. Water Heating Solutions may be a relatively young company, but it has been built on generations of pride and experience which have since been passed on creating an entirely new family that reaches five states (and counting!). Poet and author, Rupi Kaur’s describes her pride in her ancestors throughout The Sun and Her Flowers: “i am the product of all the ancestors getting together and deciding these stories need to be told.” Whether it is culture, business, art, or a combination of the aforementioned, our staff has found that family is the reason: the reason to get up at 4 am everyday, the reason to work hard everyday, the reason to take pride in your work.
Sure, our About Us page will summarize who we are and what we do, but it doesn’t quite capture what being a family owned business means to our employees nor how it impacts our customers. I decided to sit down with various members of our executive board, while searching for an answer. Along the way, we dug deep into the value of family and how it has enabled us to grow beyond Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Family Owned | Family Made
Q: Considering the fact that our company has two generations of employees with over 100 years of combined trade experience in electrical, plumbing, water heaters, and more, how would you say this benefits our customers?
A: When you are working with that much experience, “your mechanical abilities and installation practices are at a higher level due to your construction knowledge and familiarity with multiple trades. Working on water heaters requires knowledge of plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and general construction — knowledge of those fields can be put combined to install and repair units within safety/construction codes”
Interestingly enough, we are constantly working to cross-train our employees as much as possible. No, our water heater technicians are not going to become electricians, but considering that there are various types of units (electrical, natural gas, LP, etc)., it’s great for our technicians to have that background knowledge. Similarly, many of our technicians are also able to manage automobiles and boats without hiring outside help because of their knowledge of machinery.
Q: Beyond service, what family elements and benefits do your customers experience?
A: “Well, our work is controlled by our family values: honesty, fairness, quality, and not being controlled by outside sources. Our customers are dealing directly with the owners, in turn, making them more empowered buyers because they can hold us directly accountable. There’s the old saying “The buck stops here” and in our case, it stops with the owners. Our mindset is to treat every service call as an emergency because we view our customers as an extension of our family. When our customers ask us for recommendations, we want to provide them with the highest quality products and services because water heaters are a costly investment and they directly affect the customer’s family on a daily basis.
Q: Over the years our staff members have had various types of employment experiences, from self-employment to employment in national corporations. What benefit does our family atmosphere provide for our employees?
A: “The main benefit is that you don’t have to work for anyone — you’re on your own and you control your destiny. Then, when you leave the job site or the office for the day, you go home and directly see how your hard work is responsible for keeping your family afloat— your hardworking is the reason that the lights are still on, that there’s food on the table, and that your children will have more opportunities that you did.”
So, when it’s the third generation’s turn to bat, they will have been built on the knowledge, sacrifice, and experience of everyone who is currently working to make ends meet. And, when each one of those missed baseball games, dance recitals, or art exhibits is over a decade in the past, and has turned into a welding certificate, electrician’s license, or a college degree, our staff will know that despite all of those sacrifices (that probably felt like a lack of support) were all out of love.
Are you an employee or owner of a family owned business? We would love to have you as a part of our Family Owned Fridays campaign! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in participating and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to learn more about local family owned businesses!