by Bill Koelzer
Chris Garcia owner of Mission Plumbing & Heating followed his father’s footsteps. There he was back then--a youthful Bill Garcia, pitching for a triple-A baseball team in the Texas-El Paso League, well on his way to the big leagues. But an arm injury, combined with the low salaries in minor league baseball, forced Bill to look for something else. So he studied plumbing at LA Trade Tech and took a part-time job with a big plumbing firm. He learned well, because in 1965 he founded his own firm, Mission Plumbing and Heating, operating for more than forty years and headquartered in San Clemente.
Bill is deceased now, and his son, Chris, 46, is president and owner of Mission Plumbing and Heating, commandeering a thriving multi-employee, multi-truck plumbing, heating and air conditioning business serving a tri-county area in both residential and commercial work.
Chris’s mother, Anne Garcia, “The Matriarch,” as he calls her, “comes in and makes sure that I’m doing things right. She was here from the beginning and the phone number from her San Gabriel apartment, where the company started, was our original business phone number. She’s like an encyclopedia for us because she has such a tremendous understanding of the plumbing business spanning more than forty years.”
Mission’s office manager, Anne Brady, “also has a broad understanding of our business and is usually the first contact customers have with us when they call in,” says Chris. “She has a way with customers that can put them at ease even during a plumbing emergency. Between my mom, Anne Brady, and the great technicians on our staff, I am blessedly surrounded by extremely resourceful people.”
Customer relations training for the staff and marketing is conducted by Chris’s wife, Debbie, who in her real life is the Sales Manager and Sales Trainer for Thomasville Home Furnishings at its offices in Laguna Niguel, Yorba Linda, Huntington Beach, Tustin and Torrance.
Chris and Debbie have a combined family of five children, all boys, ages 25, 22, 18, 15, and 15. Chris laughs, “And none of them have currently expressed any interest in becoming a plumber.”
When asked how Mission can compete with the local plumbing branches of large, nationwide, or statewide franchised firms, he says, “We simply have to be better because we will surely see our customer on the street sooner or later. There’s just no other way than to offer excellent service because word of mouth spreads fast in a small town like San Clemente”
He says that Mission’s talents and strength lie more in service and repair rather than new construction. The firm is certified in backflow prevention and testing of all backflow prevention assemblies. Only high quality parts are used from well-known manufacturers including American-Standard, Bradford-White, Chicago, Delta, Febco, Grohe, Insinkerator, Moen, Price Pfister, Watts, Wilkins, Wolverine and many others.
Chris sees continuing training and education as critical, too, at Mission. “Every day new plumbing products and systems for heating, cooling and piping are being introduced. Each new item requires knowledge about when and how to install it, use it, and maintain and repair it. So we never cease training our people here, me included. I even attend and conduct trainings myself. Keeping up with the state of the art is very important to us here.”
In-shop training seminars offered at Mission in the past few years have included American Standard, InSinkErator Food Waste Disposers, Fluidmaster, Moen, Grohe Faucets, Takagi Tankless Water Heaters, and others offered by the Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC) as well as many other manufacturers and associations.
Mission is a member of the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce, PHCC, and Quality Service Contractors Association (QSC). Chris is on the board of directors of the local chapter of PHCC for Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino.
He says that at Mission, the extensive plumbing training is not merely an exercise to fill spare time. “What all this plumbing training means is that we are not sending out someone who knows how to sell; we’re sending out someone who knows how to plumb.” b
Mission Plumbing & Heating can be reached at 492-4303, firstname.lastname@example.org.