I’ve hosted my share of industry events and panels over the years, and usually when I’m done with a particular session, audience members rush to the stage to meet the esteemed panelists, and rightfully so. I recall this one time that stood out—I believe it was a Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors (PHCC session)—a younger gentleman was waiting—for me no less—when I descended off the stage. “Great job with the emceeing, and it’s really nice to meet you, sir. My name is Mike.”
Turns out, Mike Prencavage Jr., owner of The Family Plumber, Los Alamitos, Calif., was the acting president of PHCC Orange County at the time, and he was networking the event. From what I gathered, this guy was making an effort to connect with everyone at the show. What I realize now these many years later is that Mike Prencavage Jr. cares a lot about people, his company, the industry, and how to move the needle forward.
All in the Name
The Family Plumber performs service and repair for residential properties in and throughout Orange County and South LA County, and the team of 28 employees has experience repairing all systems, including pressurized water, sewer, gas, water heating and even sewer lining.
The Family Plumber is just that—rooted in family, so much so that the company slogan, “Just Like Having a Plumber in the Family,” rings true all around. Prencavage Jr. is a proud second-generation plumbing business owner, taking over the reins of the company from his father, Mike Sr.—eight years ago. While the company has been based in North Orange County, Calif. for more than 34 years, and Mike Jr. credits his father for being the face of the company for the past 25. In fact, Mike Jr.’s stepmother worked for the company, and while they are both retired, the company still uses her voice on special holiday recordings.
In addition, Mike’s brother Mitchell Prencavage joined the company two years ago and has been an instrumental partner in the company as well, managing many of the high-volume operational issues that come up throughout the day-to-day operations. “He understands teamwork and how to build on company culture, which will be our focus now and well into the future,” says Prencavage Jr.
Yet, Mike recalls those days some 16 years ago while in high school working summers helping his father trench water service lines, perform cleanouts and tight crawlspace work. “It goes without saying but working with family isn’t always the easiest, and for a brief period I was not least bit interested in taking over the family business,” says Prencavage Jr.
“In my early 20s, my father and I didn’t always see eye to eye on the future expansion of the company, which lead me to move across the country to Boston to pursue a new career in the automotive industry. Dishonesty and deceitful tactics I experienced over this three-year period really pushed me to re-think the opportunity to take over The Family Plumber. It was perfect timing as my father was looking to set a date for retirement.”
And while Prencavage Jr. has brought a youthful enthusiasm to the company, he has learned to respect the past but embrace change within the company. He also emphasizes building culture by being genuine with your employees and staying involved in the local communities wherever possible. In fact, Prencavage Jr. is proud to say that The Family Plumber supports multiple foundations throughout the world such as Samaritans Purse, Christian ChildFund, Wounded Warriors, and Special Olympics to name a few. Locally, the company supports its school fundraisers and the local youth center.
The Time Is … Now?
Although most believe that plumbing is recession proof, Prencavage Jr. says that local California plumbing business owners are a bit concerned going into 2024. “The focus for our company is not so much to grow by size but rather fine tune our processes for the beginning half of the year. Training on soft skills with technicians will be a must as the economy produces these unforeseeable shifts. We are focused on more direct local community marketing practices along with practical conversion training for all our technicians out in the field. We will be closely evaluating our numbers on a weekly basis to ensure our flat rate pricing stays competitive.”
Moreover, for Prencavage Jr., it’s all about process. “Process is so important to scale a company and if you don’t have SOPs (standard operating procedures), you surely will not grow. It’s important to know your numbers or at least the basic financial reports for your company. Set realistic goals and budgets on an annual, quarterly or monthly basis. Never price based on your competitors, always price based on your overhead cost and the profit percentage you seek to secure.”
So having said all of this, you could say Mike’s vision for 2024 is aggressive. “The fleet has grown at a steady pace of two trucks per year. We have been fortunate enough to grow our existing location in North Orange County and look to open a secondary location in the South Orange County area by the end of next year,” says Prencavage Jr.
Inside the PHCC
Prencavage Jr. currently serves as a director for business development at PHCC-National. According to Prencavage Jr., PHCC is a long-standing organization whose members, history and chapters all have continued to contribute so much to the betterment of the trades.
Prencavage Jr. was first introduced to PHCC in 2012 by two local members who owned plumbing companies in and around Orange County. He was convinced to attend a local meeting, then soon after, registered for the PHCC National Connect Conference that same year. He began his journey with the organization more than 10 years ago, and over the past five years, he’s been honored to not only serve on the California State Board, Government Affairs Committee and Finance Committee, but serve his local Orange County association chapter as a Board Member, Treasurer, Vice-President and extended three-year Presidential term leader.
Now serving as a Director of Business Development for PHCC National, there is more to be done, says Prencavage Jr. Noticing the increase in youthful plumbing industry owners looking for more from an organization like PHCC, along with stagnated progression on membership, Prencavage Jr. felt compelled to do more, not only for the local chapter, but also statewide and nationally.
“The community of plumbing business owners, technicians, and apprentices that I’ve come to know in this industry inspires me not only to grow my own company but also to help grow the great organization of PHCC. ‘Best People Best Practices’ isn’t just a slogan, it’s a promise to uphold good integrity, business practices and professionalism. It is my promise to continue this legacy well into the future.”
Similar to the values of PHCC, Prencavage Jr. says The Family Plumber mirrors the message. “I see our company representing the best in professionalism, and a local household name that you can trust. We also want our name to represent good character to our clients and employees. Our core team values will continue to ensure that our customers are 100% satisfied and that we uphold that top professionalism in the plumbing industry.”