PipeMaster Plumbing provides all types of plumbing, drainage and renovation related services to the people of Sooke and Greater Victoria. Owner and operator Kyle Topelko started PipeMaster Plumbing in 2016 as a way to downsize the stress in his life. Kyle was previously managing a larger company, and had been doing so for eight years prior.
Being his own boss allowed him to ensure great quality and service for all of his customers — since the owner will always be the one doing the work.
His commitment to quality is the one reason why he hasn’t hired on any staff, at least up until now.
“I offer a HUGE broad range of services,” he says, “You name it, chances are I do it, and that I do it well.”
When did you first know that you wanted to be self employed?
As a child growing up in East Sooke, I worked for many local residents and farmers performing a wide variety of jobs. I have always worked hard and done a great job whatever I happen to be doing. I learned early on that working for myself means I benefit fully from my efforts as opposed to simply increasing the reputation of an employer as an anonymous employee.
I like the freedom of being able to go the extra mile for a client without having to justify my actions to a manager as being economically defensible.
In other words, being an entrepreneur allows me to operate more like a human and less like a robot in my interactions with others, and allows me to cultivate more of a sense of community with those I serve.
I am an entrepreneur by choice and necessity.
When I first moved back to Sooke from Alberta and started a family, I applied to a local plumbing and drainage company for an apprentice position. Because I have always believed in the value of my work, I believed I was doing the company a favor by offering to work for them for $15/hr. My offer was not received with the kind of enthusiasm I was hoping for, so I decided to start my own company – that is the necessity part.
I approached my father who had 25 years experience as an employee plumber at that time and offered to start a business with him. I would provide all the starting capital (saved from my time working in Alberta as a young man) and he would provide all the experience and train me in the trade.
I purchased two plumbing vans and all the parts and equipment to fill them, as well as advertising in the phone book and elsewhere to get us started.
The learning curve was steep but I enjoyed the challenge. Now after working for myself I can not imagine it any other way. So naturally when deciding what to do as a career for myself I have chosen to remain an entrepreneur.
What support systems did you have in place when you started?
When I started my first company I knew nothing about business and everything that is involved in being successful as an entrepreneur. I believe I succeeded in spite of the many mistakes I made by working extremely hard day after day and slowly learning and changing over time to become more effective and efficient.
Knowing what I do now, starting and operating a successful business is much easier and the effort required is much less because I don’t need to repeat the mistakes I have learned from in the past.
What advice would you offer other potential entrepreneurs?
One thing I would advise an entrepreneur who is just getting started is to work as hard as you can until you succeed – you will get out what you put in. One thing I would recommend avoiding is relying too heavily on certain major advertisers for your leads – many promises you hear while signing that expensive advertising contract really are too good to be true.
Word of mouth is the best kind of advertising and it’s free! All you have to do is provide great service.
What keeps you motivated?
My family is the most important thing to me and I have always worked hard to see that they are well provided for. Some days the job of a plumber is not very glamorous. Crawling around under a mobile home replacing drainage piping or clearing a sewer blockage for instance – but I am thankful that this business and line of work allows me to take good care of my family.
Looking back, knowing what you now know, what would you have done differently?
Looking back….way back… I would have tried to make more friends and develop more relationships in high school. I see now that having a large network of friends and acquaintances makes things much easier for an entrepreneur just starting out by providing recommendations and contacts.
At what point should an entrepreneur take the “leap of faith” and start up their business?
The best time to take that “leap of faith” and start your business is yesterday.
The second best time is today.
Anything else you would like to add?
Sooke is a great place to live in. If you want to be successful in this community you need to become a part of it and give back as often as you can.
- On the Sooke PocketNews Directory
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