My daughter has a little book of proverbs entitled “Time is a Ship that Casts no Anchor.” Although it seems like yesterday, 38 years ago—before the era of VHS tapes—I attended Kent State University. My wife Ruth and I were newly married, living off Shaker Square in a trendy brick apartment. Ruth had a great job in the Sales Department at The Bond Court Hotel in Cleveland. I was studying Radio and Film, which was my lifelong dream. I set out to make documentary films and study journalism.
Life was good, but money was short. I heard of a plumber looking for a part time helper, and I can still remember knocking on the back door of a University Heights home early one morning. I met Lee, a young man with a chemistry degree, working with his dad Aaron in a two-truck family business. We said hello, climbed in his bright red van, drove to the first job, and installed a water heater that morning.
There was something very practical and satisfying about driving around the city, chatting and planning, visiting with and meeting all sorts of people, having coffee with them, exploring their attics and basements, their closets and bathrooms, and ultimately solving a problem and making them happy. It felt good and this was a new experience for me, one that I found satisfying and complimentary to my studies at KSU.
Then a tragic event happened. Lee’s father was under a sink installing a kitchen faucet. He felt chest pains and attempted to get his nitro pills in the truck but never made it. Everything changed, on many levels, when Aaron died. A new career had literally been dropped in my lap: Aaron’s work load became mine.
Together Lee and I continued to run the family business and I continued to attend KSU. Eventually Lee would become disillusioned with it all. He wanted out and he graciously offered it all to me—the trucks, the inventory, the phone number, and the customers. I didn’t go back to Kent State that semester. Instead I climbed in a red plumbing truck and headed off to the next basement. WyattWorks Plumbing was born.
Over the years my sons would end up riding along and my wife Ruth would answer the phone—a true Mom and Pop. Today the business has grown. The two boys drive trucks 1 and 2 out of our 5-truck fleet. Ruth manages two women in the office and I am now “Senior Advisor,” teaching women how to solder pipe in my spare time.