August 7, 2019
Small Business Stories: Johnny’s Plumbing and Hydronics
Author: Jen Amundson, Deluxe Director of Social Media and Communications
In our “Small Business Stories” series, we hit the road to interview small business owners about their unique journeys. Each story provides inspiration and insights, while shining a spotlight on the passionate small business owners who are so critical to our economies and our communities.
Sometimes a terrible challenge produces a lot of learning. That was the experience of Johnny’s Plumbing and Hydronics in Canon City, Colorado.
John T. Fontecchio III started the business fresh out of high school with a new wife and a baby on the way. The business grew at a steady pace until a financial downturn stopped his forward progress.
“When the turndown came, business started dropping off, because no new houses were being built,” he explained. “Unfortunately, we had to start laying off some plumbers.”
John felt terrible. But as the economy started to turn around, he found opportunity. He discovered that builders needed more help with finishing the fireplaces that Johnny’s was running the gas lines to. He decided to diversify their business, adding services to meet that need. He also brought in HVAC experts to work on furnaces and air conditioners. As a result, they added workers and grew the business again. The next time the economy turned southward, they were able to maintain enough work that they could keep their employees.
His sons, who help run the business, agreed that diversifying was key in maintaining their business through the natural ups and downs of the economy. They added that it’s important to do it right.
John Fontecchio IV explained, “If you are going to do it, make sure you have help, knowledgeable people who know what they are doing, don’t just jump in and try to tackle it yourself, because you are going to be very frustrated by that.”
His brother, Tony, confirmed, “you don’t want to be Jack of all trades, master of none.”
Their dad added that a key element of successful diversification is an accurate website. When builders need specialized contractors, they search websites of local businesses. This is especially true for large commercial projects where the builder may be from another city. Johnny’s would miss out on those jobs if their website wasn’t working as hard as they are, fully describing everything the business does.
“We get a lot of large commercial work,” said Johnny. “The website has helped us do that.”
You can find more ideas for growing your small business in the Deluxe Small Business Resource Center.