Story #44Drake MechanicalBoise, ID

It’s just bred into my genes at this point. I don’t know anything else.

It’s rare to come across a small business that has been around for more than 100 years.

Since 1909, Drake Mechanical has been serving the plumbing, water, and mechanical needs of Idaho’s Treasure Valley area.  In a marketplace that has changed dramatically over the last century, Nick Drake is keeping the family business alive by learning to adapt while still holding onto the hard-working values instilled in him at an early age.

“If you want it, you’ve got to work for it.” That is what Drake’s grandfather and father used to repeat to him.  By age 14, Drake was digging ditches, and as soon as he graduated high school he started his plumbing apprenticeship.  Today, at age 35, he is president of Drake Mechanical and the fifth generation of Drakes to run the business.

Beyond the broad spectrum of work that they do, Drake Mechanical has established a reputation as an active member of the Boise community through charity involvement, and Drake himself is a member of the Good Samaritan Board that provides low-income housing and meals to veterans and disabled adults.  Their hard work has paid off, as 60 percent of their business is repeat customers – who clearly trust the work that they do and rely on Drake Mechanical.

Being in business for more than 100 years, Drake Mechanical has weathered its fair share of economical storms – from the Great Depression, to the big recessions of the 80s and recent years.  If a company isn’t able to adapt and try new things, it won’t survive. “We had to re-learn how to do business overnight,” Drake says.  Whereas the majority of their work used to be in construction, the 2008 recession forced them to shift their business to service and repair, which now makes up 90 percent of their business.

Through adapting along with their customer base and the industry as a whole, Drake Mechanical has managed to beat the odds and keep their family owned and operated business alive.  Nick Drake is proud of that fact, and that he has 25 employees who are able to support their families – something he never forgets.  “It’s not just my kids I have to feed, I have to feed their kids and keep a roof over their head,” he says.

Drake hopes that in the future their construction business will pick back up again, and he also hopes that one of his children becomes the sixth generation president of the company and carries on its legacy.  “I want my kids to have something, if they want to be involved, great, if they don’t want to, then [they’ll] do what they enjoy.”

 

Photos by Jared Moossy

  • Nick Drake's children play in the shop while their parents work in the office. Drake's daughter is now the same age that he was when he started going into the shop with his father, and she sometimes helps her mom out with paperwork in the shop. Drake's hope is that one of his children will want to carry on the Drake Mechanical legacy and become the sixth generation owner.

  • Nick Drake, owner of Drake Mechanical, inspects the duct work and HVAC system that his employees installed previously.

  • Detail of the duct work Drake Mechanical installed in the rafters of a remodel in downtown Boise, Idaho.

  • Nick Drake and Jerry Roberts look at the duct work the company installed in the rafters of a remodel in downtown Boise, Idaho. As an established part of the Boise community for over 100 years, Drake Mechanical has built up a loyal customer base, with 60 percent of their business coming from repeat customers.

  • Nick Drake and employees Jerry Roberts and Shayne Singleton park in downtown Boise, Idaho to inspect a previous job.

  • An employee at Drake Mechanical opens the back of a service van to load the day's supplies.

  • Nick Drake, owner of Drake Mechanical, now 35, took over ownership of the shop from his father just last year, but started going to the shop with him as early as age 10. He told his dad he wanted a bicycle and his dad told him, "If you want it, you have to work for it." These values, instilled in him at such a young age, are the backbone of Drake Mechanical and the reason it has stayed in business all these years.

  • Detail of the front door at Drake Mechanical, a fifth generation family-owned business that has been a staple for plumbing and mechanical work in the Boise, Idaho area for over 100 years.

  • One of many trucks in the Drake Mechanical fleet waits to depart for service calls in the city. During the recent recession, Drake Mechanical stayed alive by shifting their business from being mostly construction, to being 90 percent service and repair.

  • Drake Mechanical's Boise, Idaho location, where they've been since the mid 80s, is just a mile from the airport. Though it's not a large space, it's bigger than their first office - which was Drake's great grandfather's house.

  • Nick Drake, owner of Drake Mechanical, looks over some paperwork before signing off on the job.

  • Employees of Drake Mechanical attend their daily morning meeting to discuss the day's schedule. Employing 25 people is not something owner Nick Drake takes lightly. "It's not just my kids I have to feed, I have to feed their kids and keep a roof over their head."

  • In addition to plumbing and mechanical work, Drake Mechanical offers a suite of services including building sewer plants, central vacuums, heating and air conditioning, duct work, every facet that has to do with air/water, piping... "You name it, we do it." In their 100-plus years of being in business, Drake Mechanical has built a very loyal customer base, with 60 percent of their business coming from repeat customers.

  • Nick Drake, owner of Drake Mechanical, meets his employees before the day starts and they head out on service calls. Nick Drake is the fifth generation of Drakes to own the business, which has been a staple for plumbing and mechanical work in the Boise, Idaho area for over 100 years.

Business Details

Proprietor: Nick Drake
5551 W Gowen Rd. Boise, ID 83709
PH: 208-362-6200 / Website
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