Foreword by Ian Thompson, Editor
Welcome to the world of plumbing and heating. In this episode of “Talking Plumbing: Part 1” from the TALKING TRADES series by guest author Matt Risinger.
In this video post we embark on an exploration of the plumbing trade alongside master plumber Eric Ani in Minneapolis, USA. Listen to Eric’s journey leaving school and starting a plumbing apprenticeship, later running his own business and enjoying his work life balance. Prepare to be inspired as we uncover the passion, dedication, and boundless opportunities within the plumbing and heating industry.
Don’t forget to share this video with anyone considering the trades as a profession. Join us as we delve into Eric’s story, success stories, and the promising career landscape that awaits aspiring tradespeople.
Exploring the Plumbing Trade: Success Stories and Career Opportunities “Talking Plumbing: Part 1” – TALKING TRADES EP. 2
Hey friends Matt Risinger talking trades today. We’re talking Plumbing. We’re outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota and I’m just pulling up to Eric Ani’s shop. Eric is a master plumber. He owns Anie Plumbing. He really specializes in heating systems, interestingly enough.
That’s a specialty uh in the plumbing trade and we’re going to learn all about Eric, how he got to where he was. This is going to be a really fun episode talking Plumbing. Let’s get going build original series hosted by Matt Risinger talking trades brought to you by front door and [Music] sashco.
Eric Onie, hey buddy! Man, I’m so glad to get here. Super excited to spend a day or two with you, brother. Welcome! So the lowest rung on the ladder to become a plumber is apprentice, right? Yeah, yeah that’s where you start out and so I’m going to be your apprentice today. I’m excited to get to the job site, do I get to use your cool tools in the red boxes as an apprentice?
Well Matt, actually so I got you a special tool today that you’re going to become friends with I think. You’re going to have to get to know it a little bit before you get the big tools. So these are going to be my main tools yeah! All right, so what am I doing? Let’s go buddy!
Okay Eric, I’m an apprentice. It’s day one. I’m learning to be a what’s day one look like for uh… Well actually so kind of day in the life is starting here in my shop. Okay and I have a special job for you. So to start the day you need to clean out my van. That’s a lot of crap in there. Yep, okay!
Hey, I’m Eric Onie. Welcome to my shop here in Minnesota. I’m a master plumber. It’s really not that hard, okay I’m an idiot. Whatever we’re paying him, it’s too much! Uh yeah, so I’m a master plumber here in Minnesota. I’ve been a plumber for about 25 years. I run my own business and I got into this right out of high school.
I really like what I do and I really like working alone apparently! In that 25 years, I started out as an apprentice at the bottom of the rung, just out of high school. I knew that college wasn’t for me and wanted to do something that was going to give me a little more variety.
You know at that age you don’t quite know what you want to do. You certainly don’t have any like real passions about doing something like finding a job as an apprentice. You start at the bottom and you work your way up. Here in Minnesota we have a four year apprenticeship program.
So it’s structured, you go to school, night school a few nights a week, few months of the year and you do that as you are working on the job which I think is really what attracted me to the trades was going to work every single day, getting trained on the job, getting paid to learn instead of having college debt.
Growing up I was always a curious kid. I wanted to take things apart, put them back together just to see how they worked. A lot of kids will play with Legos, a lot of kids will go try to build a ramp for their bike or a tree fort.
That was the kind of things that I did. I didn’t know then of course or even as I was a young adult that that would really was a signal to like I like to work with my hands. I like to make things happen, make things work. I love it when things don’t work and I can fix them and I think that’s really how I ended up doing what I do today.
There’s a lot of ways to specialize in the trades and plumbing is no exception. So I think most people think about toilets and backed up drain lines although I can do that kind of work. I’ve actually decided to specialize in heating. Uh I do a lot more work with gas appliances, hot water heating systems. Uh it’s really been great with our long Minnesota winters and working in the heating trade.
I’m busy for months at a time but then when that snow melts, it’s really nice because I get to take a little time off when I started out I started as a one man shop and actually uh nearly 24 years later I still work alone and that’s what’s really unique about my trade is some companies will choose to grow and get really big, have tons of people working for them and I’ve been able to work alone for so many years and it’s just been awesome.
I think the trades, especially as sub trades where you’ve got licenses, you’ve got certifications, you’ve got um a lot of qualifications to do what you do allows you to kind of make you know clear your own path.
There are a lot of options in what I do in trades like plumbing and heating that allow for you know starting this as a new career, uh whether you’re midlife or you’re leaving the military, you’ve served and you’re just deciding what’s next and I think plumbing and heating is great for that because we can get you in there.
You’ve got some real life usable experience we can put to work on the job starting sure at the bottom but probably quickly working your way up. It’s so great to have a job like this and to have this as my career because I can support my family. Uh I have a skill that people can’t take away from me and it’s marketable everywhere I go like I literally have demand for the work I do pretty much anywhere in the country.
Okay y’all, so Eric is going to be too modest to tell you today but I need to pull you aside and tell you that Eric Anie is the quintessential American success story built upon the foundation of the plumbing trade. Eric as an 18 year old came right out of high school, joined a union apprentice program, four years later sat for his journeyman’s test and then not even a year later, right at a year later sat down for his master’s test.
So here he is early 20s, he actually married his high school sweetheart and at like 23 years old is building his very first house, this house here. He built a couple years later at like 26 or 27 years old and by time he was 29 years old, he’d already started Onie Plumbing which now he’s owned for almost 20 years, 19 years something like that.
I mean this is absolutely an American success story and he did all that oh by the way totally debt free and here Eric is now, he’s four or five years younger than I am I think.
He’s 46 years old, his kids are out of the house, he’s been married for almost 25 years, he’s got a beautiful custom home that he built, a gorgeous piece of property here in Minnesota. Check out the shop, I mean the shop is unbelievable.
He’s got trucks and tools and vans, he’s got a mini truck. I mean this is absolutely the American dream right here. He did it all debt free. He did it all on the foundation of the flooring trade. Go better get back to it!
All right, o job well done! Oh I really like working [Music] alone! All right Eric what are we doing today? We’re going to work on a boiler heating system! All right we all loaded up, I think we got what we need! All right brother, let’s roll! [Music]
Talking trade! I’m excited to be on the job site with you man. I’m glad to have you! So what are we doing over here today? Uh yesterday I tore out an old boiler, cast iron weighed like 400 lb. We already truck that away so you got out of that and you’re lucky! So did you put that 400 lb on your back and walk up there? No no no!
I invest in the tools that let me do this job so I can keep doing it for years and years. That’s how much I love it for sure but no. I have a motorized stair climbing dolly that lifts up to 700 lbs. It’s crazy! Holy cow! I saw your Instagram feed today of that thing lifting into the trailer or pardon me into the bed of your someone’s truck yep to get rid of it. That’s crazy!
Yeah it goes straight to the scrapyard. We only we only touch it enough to strap it onto the cart. That’s pretty awesome! So today what are we actually working on? So let’s – we’re going to get working on the new boiler.
So it’s high efficiency, bring them into the Modern Age yep! You know we got a 60 year old house here so we got to do a whole bunch of piping, maybe do some gas pipe, some copper things like that. 60 year old house, I suspect there’s no recipe for what you’re going to find in there is there?
No and I think that’s what I like about my job so much is I get called in when there’s a problem and it I’m tasked with fixing it. So the diagnosing and just seeing what’s there, what’s worth or what you have to work with like that’s a huge challenge I think but I think that’s what I like about it because it’s different every day!
Yeah that’s interesting. I wonder, if you have some amount of your job satisfaction that’s “Hey I saved people from a big problem” and you know they weren’t sure what was, how much it was going to be or how painful this was going to be and you came in you got to be the hero.
Yeah I suppose there’s that. I don’t like to think of it that way, I just like, you know, this is my community and I’m helping somebody when they need it. But yeah you’re right, you sometimes got to pat yourself on the back a little bit. You know like, you feel energized and that’s you know, satisfaction.
Yeah so that’s what keeps you coming back every day. It’s not always fun, it’s not always awesome. You know, like you see the Instagram videos and everything’s so great and wow look at that, you know I was like well you know. It only took us six months to get here and a lot more money than we thought. And you know my finger still healing, you know what I mean, like so I think we got to get working.
Okay got some materials here. Got to say man, this is one impressive van nice and organized. Did you build all these plywood shelves yourself? Yeah, built them myself just so I could get the boxes where I wanted them I like these pack out boxes they’re durable and they hold a lot of
material what percent of your workday would you say is organization and thought for
tomorrow’s work? I spend you know a good hour or two planning uh throughout the day but you know maybe
while I’m working already and um yeah I suppose at the end of the day
unloading the van getting rid of the garbage making sure the bins are stocked yeah that’s a big
part of the job because you you might be 20 30 miles from a supply house and going to get materials is just wasteful. Oh yeah for sure you know so
ordering things online on from an app on my phone having the you like complete
connection to my suppliers is awesome but I have to keep a fair amount on the van.
Yeah you’ve got obviously a fair amount of fittings here but what happens if you’re like oh shoot I didn’t know this was going to be half inch you know whatever and and I thought this was 3/4 what do you do in that situation? Well if I don’t have it I kind of shake my head and I get a little down on myself right
no but uh honestly I think you guys call it hot shot yeah that’s what builders call it you can get a hot shot for plumbing parts too yeah so like I call it my pluming uber you know what I mean I’m having stuff delivered within one hour.
How about typically that an hour y you know like you have to be you have to be efficient you have to you’re being paid to be on the job and fix a problem not drive back and forth to go get materials.
It could take a 2 hour round trip for you to go to the supply house in the meantime I might have other materials I can be working with until that one critical piece that I didn’t have shows up.
Cool I’m assuming we’re heading to the basement? Yeah let’s do it there’s a little air AC down there oo that sounds nice in this hot [Music] weather.
Next up I want to say a big thanks to our sponsors and show you what they’ve been doing to encourage young people to join us in the trades. I want to say a huge thanks to my friends at sashco for sponsoring this talking trade series.
First off if you’re not familiar with them sashco makes a huge line of premium caulks and sealant that I use every day on my high performance builds. They’re a family-owned company that makes their products in Colorado but they also have been a massive supporter of trade school education.
Now if you are a trade school teacher watching this video I want to tell you about their class pack program which was designed for you to use in your classroom to educate students about sealant technology and application.
Now I’ve been through a version of this program and it was really fun and educational. You can enhance your curriculum with their expert resources. Learn more at sashco.com/trades-support.
Now if you aren’t a teacher you can still make a difference in this battle to bolster our trade base. Take the sashco challenge, volunteer a local trade school in your town, capture the moment, share it on social media and tag sashco and your reward will be a free case of Lexel as a token of their appreciation for supporting trade education.
Thanks again sashko for sponsoring these videos.
I want to thank our friends at front door for sponsoring this talking trade series. If you’re not familiar with front door, they are reimagining how homeowners maintain and repair their most valuable asset – their home.
As the parent company of two leading brands, front door brings over 50 years of experience in providing their members with comprehensive options to protect their homes from costly and unexpected breakdowns through their extensive network of pre-qualified professional contractors.
American Home Shield has approximately 2 million members and gives homeowners budget protection and convenience covering up to 23 essential home systems and appliances.
Now front door is a cutting edge one-stop app for home repair and maintenance enabled by their stream technology. The app empowers homeowners by connecting them in real time through video chat with pre-qualified experts to diagnose and solve their problems.
The front door app also offers homeowners a range of other benefits including DIY tips, discounts and much more. More information about American Home Shield and Frontdoor, visit frontdoorhome.com.
Now as the largest provider of home service plans in the nation and a network of approximately 16,000 independent contractors, front door is spreading the word and advocating to bring new talent into the pipeline by creating opportunities for young people as plumbers, electricians and other highly skilled professions.
Front door has also been sponsoring organizations committed to the advancement of the skilled trades like Skills USA and bePROUD. I’ve been to their events, those are amazing organizations and huge thanks to front door for their partnership in this talking trade series.
“Talking Plumbing Part 2” Talking Trades EP3