Brant Beach Plumbing, Connecting the Next Generation to the First

By Maria Scandale | Oct 09, 2019

Brant Beach — Brant Beach Plumbing built on one good job done after another, for 40 years. Today the next generation has joined while the current owner carries on to work and advise.

Serving all of Long Beach Island and Beach Haven West, Brant Beach Plumbing does winterizations, water meter swaps and installations, water heater replacements and other work.

Brant Beach Plumbing is named for its starting locale in the Brant Beach area by the late Fred Tiska, the uncle of his successor, master plumber John Petrowski.

Petrowski’s son John, 29, is also state-licensed as a master plumber. Nephew Adam has completed the four-year study program with Ocean County Vocational Technical School and, in his fifth year as a journeyman plumber, will soon be eligible to take the state licensing exam.

The elder John will still be active in the business; in fact, “I pretty much work every day,” he said. “The only difference is if I want to take a week off, I can do that and not have to worry; the guys know what to do. They know how to deal with customers, they know how to deal with jobs, and they can always call me.”

From the younger John’s point of view, he is proud to have his father’s reputation standing behind him.

“That’s the thing I’m most proud of when it comes to my dad – everyone tells me he’s an honest guy and they speak very highly of him, and that’s something I would be focused on continuing,” he said.

Word of mouth from satisfied customers has kept the family business active for decades. Now the second generation is expanding the advertising to obtain some new clients, working toward the time they will eventually take over the business. It’s a good mix.

“I have a lot of longtime customers that we try to take care of the best we can.” said the elder Petrowski, “and we always take new customers. We get a lot of references from neighbors, and a place like LBI, even though there are new people all the time, it’s still a small community, especially in the off-season.”

The great thing about carrying through the generations is experience can be taught. Petrowski learned much from his uncle and from another local plumber, Walt Hedden, before that.

“There’s science to it – pressure principles, gravity, atmospheric pressures and all kinds of things involved in plumbing. We do everything we used to do, and there’s more technology that is coming in to play now than there used to be,” he said.

Today, John’s son and nephew credit him for passing on knowledge and ethics, not to mention the availability of the trucks, equipment and loyal customers.

“He has taught me to just be respectful of everyone’s house that you’re in, treat it like it’s your own house,” said the younger John.

“Also, he said to keep in mind that a lot of these people are on vacation. Just try to imagine yourself on vacation – you want the people working in the house to be friendly; you want to make this a place that people come back to, and I’d like to think we’re a part of that.”

Working in the family plumbing business here since 1978, the elder Petrowski has seen about everything in weather and in plumbing situations.

“All kind of storms, freeze-ups, those are the worst,” John began to list. “We had a lot of mold to deal with after Sandy; every job you went into, you could smell it. We were getting constant phone calls after Sandy. At one point I worked for 72 days and worked every day, Thanksgiving Day, reconnecting gas, and John and Adam were working for me then, too.”

Add the new generation’s training in new technology, and they’ve got it covered for the present and future.

“There’s really nothing we can’t do,” added son Johnny when we talked to him separately. That runs the range from new technology to the more rugged process of using a snake to clear out dirty jobs when called for. “So we pretty much cover it all.”

This time of year, as with other plumbing businesses, they’re called to do many winterizations, plus the digital water meter upgrades that are being required in area municipalities.

“They can get in touch with us, and we know how to pick the new meters up and schedule the activations, so we can be a full service with that,” said the younger Petrowski.

They do hundreds of winterizations a year. The service details can vary here at a shore resort area where many houses are second homes.

“If they’re going to use the house all winter, they would just have to shut off the outside shower and whatever is outside that could freeze,” the elder Petrowki summarized. “And if they’re going to use the house, they leave the heat on and they don’t have to drain everything.

“But it really depends. I always tell people if you’re going to use it just a couple weeks out of the winter, it’s probably not worth leaving the heat on. But I guess some people don’t seem to mind that much anymore.”

That brings up another situation unique to tradesmen on the barrier island: “I’ve had customers who I’ve had for decades that I’ve never even met,” the older John said, “because they’re not here. You have to pick up a key.”

Spring and summer are a more sociable season.

“We have our special busy times, between March and the middle of July when they finally get here and you’re doing service calls; you’re not really doing big projects.

“The season starts the beginning of March: ‘I want to get back into my house at the beach,’ and they need to turn on the water. The closer it gets to summer, the busier we get, and then before Easter, ‘It’s gotta be done by Easter,’ then by Memorial Day or by the Fourth of July.”

The son doesn’t mind taking over paperwork, which the dad calls “the worst part” of running a business. “I do it, too, but it’s nice to have somebody else do some of that.” He added with a laugh, “After 40 years  we just started taking credit cards, thanks to Johnny.”

Contact Brant Beach Plumbing at 609-891-7773 or by email at mylbiplumber@gmail.com Those contacts are the second generation’s, which is gathering more of the new customers; the longtime customers already know who Brant Beach Plumbing is!

Concluded son John, “Adam and I are kind of branching out to get our own customers. I’m going to collect my own customers while he’s still working, and when he retires I’ll augment the customers that I’ve gathered into his.”

— Maria Scandale

mariascandale@thesandpaper.net

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