Contractormag 2810 Perryson

Harley Perry of Perry Plumbing, Heating & Air is our Contractor of the Year

Jan. 11, 2016
His goal is to find multifaceted students, equip them with the latest technological know-how and turn them into qualified plumbers. Moreover, he wants to see students climb into leadership positions. Harley was instrumental in starting the PHCC Apprenticeship Training Program in 2008. He is currently chairman and president of what has become a successful and important training program shaping the future of the industry. 
Harley Perry with his son John Perry. John gets a certificate after graduating from the apprenticeship school.

A CONTRACTOR magazine Contractor of the Year does way more than fix things. Each year we’ve profiled contractors who have done more, whether it’s community or industry service, professional acumen, pioneering new technology, taking on a worthy cause, or volunteerism. That’s why we’re naming Harley Perry, Perry Plumbing, Heating & Air, National City and San Diego, California, as our Contractor of the Year.

In October, Delta Faucet and Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors – National Association named Perry their Contractor of the Year. In honoring Perry at the PHCC CONNECT 2015 conference and exposition, Delta and PHCC noted that Perry has been involved with the PHCC for more than 30 years and described him as an innovator, industry leader and consummate professional at the PHCC Awards Luncheon. He was credited with forming the San Diego Apprenticeship Program in 2008 and has served the PHCC-San Diego chapter in most every capacity including as president in 2008-2009. He currently serves as president of the PHCC Academy of San Diego.

“Mr. Perry’s dedication to the PHCC has played a vital role in the organization’s success and more so, the success of the Apprenticeship Program,” said Kelly Anderson, former PHCC-San Diego president. “He and his staff exemplify the code of ethics among true professionals, raising the bar here in California.”

Perry first joined the PHCC of San Diego in 1982 and he is still active in the local chapter as current president of the PHCC Academy of San Diego. He served on the PHCC of San Diego Board of Directors from 2002 until 2010, serving as president in 2008-2009. He has also represented the San Diego chapter on the California State Board of Directors and is a member at large in the PHCC Auxiliary and has been a member of Quality Service Contractors.

A very happy pre-apprentice Nelson Rodriguez gets a PHCC T-shirt from instructor Steve Matley (left) and Harley Perry.

Harley is concerned about the success of the plumbing industry, knowing that the present, older generation of plumbing technicians is on the verge of retirement. His goal is to find multifaceted students, equip them with the latest technological know-how and turn them into qualified plumbers. Moreover, he wants to see students climb into leadership positions.

The apprenticeship program

Harley was instrumental in starting the PHCC Apprenticeship Training Program in 2008. He is currently chairman and president of what has become a successful and important training program shaping the future of the industry. This past year, Perry was also influential in starting San Diego PHCC’s first pre-apprenticeship program to provide formal training to under-employed youths and get them into the industry.

Harley takes pride in every step of the training program. Each year, he is present, involved from marketing the program, the application process, the grades, the disciplinary process, all the way through to completion of the year with the students.

Beyond his continued company leadership, Perry actively gives back to the industry and community through his work with the Bonita Optimist Club, South County Economic Development Council and Challenge Air San Diego. He encourages technicians to practice random acts of kindness such as changing a light bulb and provides free service calls for needy customers during the holiday season.

Veronica and Harley Perry.

Most recently, CONTRACTOR named him its Contractor of the Month for December 2015.

Fell in love with the industry

People often get into this industry by chance and unexpectedly fall in love with it. That’s the way it happened for Harley and his wife, Veronica, better know as Ronny.

In 1975, Harley’s wife worked in a beauty shop and one of her co-workers was married to a plumber, who owned his own business. Harley, an Army vet and native of Southern California, was hired as a helper with no intentions taking a plumbing career any further; it was just a job to get him some extra cash. As time passed, he grew to like the profession and the industry.

The problem was that Harley could see what his boss was doing right and doing wrong — he was a great craftsman but a terrible businessman. He had no business and money management skills. 

Even though Harley saw the struggles of running a small business, he knew that with the proper guidance and persistence, that this is what he wanted to do. Harley continued to work as an apprentice for two years — at times without pay due to the struggling business. Eventually, he was brought in as part business owner managing the business and financial aspects of the company. As his partner struggled, Harley eventually became the sole owner, buying out his partner for just $1.00. He continued to build to and strengthen the business and, in 1980, he established Perry Plumbing.

With some of the Perry Plumbing, Heating

He’s certainly not adverse to change. Harley monitored the local market, the flow of business and the economic times and moved the company away from service and repair into new construction and then back to service work again. In the process he learned the importance of both education and experience. Today, under Harley’s guidance, Perry Plumbing maintains a strong presence in the industry and in the community, providing quality commercial and residential plumbing services and repairs. Perry Plumbing also offers backflow prevention and pipe relining services, plus the firm added HVAC service in 2015.

Perry is the founder and current President of the PHCC Academy of San Diego. He is dedicated to his employees and has instilled in them his own desire to promote professionalism within the industry. He is respected by his peers as an honest, reliable, community-oriented businessman who treats his employees like family and his customers like friends. The employees of Perry Plumbing have embraced this concept and, in doing so, have forged a bond among themselves. They have built a working relationship based on mutual respect and a camaraderie that can easily be observed. They call themselves “Team Perry” and embody team spirit in every sense of the term.

It starts with Harley being a straight shooter. When an honest leader runs a business, positions are filled with honest people and integrity is the inevitable result. It is actually a requirement that Perry Plumbing employees are honest with customers as well as with each other.

Harley Perry with most of his crew. From the left are Mike Pallotto, John Perry, Danny Manabat, Joel Jauregui, Pete Gonzalez, Harley Perry, apprentice Awet Kidane, Delbert Womack, Nathan Glibbery, William Butler and Jose Hurtado.

“We are not perfect and do not expect anyone else to be either,” Perry says, “but there is just no excuse for not telling the whole truth right from the start.” 

The next generation

Perry Plumbing supports and is supported by the entire Perry family. Harley, with his wife and co-owner Veronica, are both dedicated to the success of the PHC industry as a whole. Currently, both Harley and Veronica maintain an active presence in the business, but have also begun to set their three-year plan in motion. The plan is to begin to slow down, slowly back out of the business and empower their kids — Anndrea, John and daughter-in-law Michelle Selitto — to take over the business with their guidance.

Harley and Veronica raised their children to have strong family values. Those same values have always carried over into the structure of Perry Plumbing as well. The more involved in the family business that their son and daughter became, the more these family values seemed to grow and be noticed. Now, after 40 years in the industry and 35 years as owner of Perry Plumbing, it is apparent that the presence of strong family values has fostered the sustainability and the growth that Perry Plumbing has achieved thus far.

Anndrea Perry, office manager, manages all the daily operations of the company.  John Perry, vice president, is one of the company’s nine plumbing technicians and is also the director of the company’s pipe relining department. A certified backflow specialist and a graduate of the PHCC-San Diego Academy for both plumbing and HVAC, John Perry holds more certifications than any other Perry Plumbing employee — including his father! Daughter-in-law Michelle Selitto is the senior dispatch service representative, and is responsible for maintaining the flow of each technician’s daily activities. She is the direct liaison between the technicians, the customers and all levels of management

The field supervisor for Perry Plumbing Heating & Air is Michael Pallotto. Pallotto is the glue of the company. He is resident problem solver and the go-to guy for everything. While all team members freely voice their appreciation and respect for Mike as their supervisor, both Anndrea and John who have made it very clear that while it is they who are being groomed to carry on the legacy created by their father, they want Mike Pallotto by their side. 

Perry plumbing customers receive top-notch customer service and the undivided attention of CSR Michele Fortunati. She has honed her ability to multi-task and she is as committed to Perry Plumbing as she is the industry.

Harley talks with son John Perry at the Perry Plumbing offices.

Perry Plumbing currently employs a total of 16 hard-working individuals, who, along with their own families provide the kind of dedication and selfless commitment that is a direct reflection on the success of Perry Plumbing.

Family dynamic

There’s a family dynamic within this company. Relying upon the creativity of their 16 employees in their marketing practices, Perry Plumbing maintains a competitive position along-side some of the largest, most powerful businesses in the industry, where Perry Plumbing is known for being, “The Plumber Other Plumbers Recommend.” And they really are. Because of their expertise and problem-solving skills, competitors are referring customers to Perry Plumbing at an average of two service calls per week. Perry Plumbing has built a solid repeat and referral clientele encompassing more than 95% of its customer database.

The company’s mission statement covers ultimate customer satisfaction, the opportunity for employees to improve their standard of living, and to make a profit so that the company can grow and give back to the community. They are professional in every contact with the customer, whether it’s in-person or in their advertising. This professionalism translates into quality, integrity and a commitment to provide the best service in the San Diego area. Perry Plumbing’s standards are evident in the transparency of its operations, the foundation of honesty that the company is built upon and in the integrity of the team as a whole.

And that’s because of Harley, who’s always friendly, welcoming and quick with a joke. He speaks from his heart and his values. Harley Perry is a not only a father and a business owner, but a teacher, a mentor, a role model, and a friend to all.

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