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Penn Township Plumber
Making National News
You just don’t read much about plumbers in the newspaper. The exception may be in the comic section where they are the ‘butt’ of some jokes. And certainly no matter how skilled you become in plumbing it is not a career choice that you expect to earn national recognition. One local Penn Township plumber has turned all that around by catching the attention of national publications and even one of the biggest home improvement TV shows.
The year was 1970 when Larry Sturm graduated from Penn Joint High School with no idea or direction for his life. His high school years were not productive and were complicated by his father’s lengthy struggle with lung cancer. Just before graduation, his father died leaving his mother with four kids and no substantial income. It was his mother’s hard work ethic & struggle that Larry credits for teaching him what he didn’t learn in schoolbooks.
While classmates were moving on, Larry didn’t have many options since finances made college out of the question. A high school friend asked him to “just ride along” while he took an entrance exam for admission to a trade school. With nothing to do after they arrived the school somehow convinced Larry to take the exam along with his friend. And talk about a twist of fate. The friend was not admitted but Larry was accepted. As if the puzzle needed one more piece to fit together more perfectly, the school specialized in assisting orphaned & disadvantaged kids. The wheels of motion were now set in place & Larry was off to attend Thaddeus Stevens Trade School in Lancaster PA. Larry only learned later in life from a federal job recruiter that Thaddeus was the premier school in the nation where the federal government turns to when looking for highly trained tradesmen. It was two years of intense study before Larry realized he found his calling. At graduation he was named ‘Most Outstanding Plumber’.
Back Then and Now
Larry went on to take a plumbing position for an oceanside firm in New Jersey. The surfing proved far more exciting than what his home back in Claridge offered. But while other plumbers punched the time clock & went off to the donut shop, Larry went straight to the jobsite and worked far into the evening. “I asked for a 25 cent raise & my boss said no…it was the best answer I could of received.” That reply caused Larry to packed his bags & head back home to Penn Township. Again his mother came to his rescue, telling her friends in the kitchen at Jeannette Hospital about his new venture & Sturm Plumbing was up & running. He laughs & recalls packing his two seater Triumph with tools purchased from the money he saved from his childhood paper route.
Jump ahead to 1983 when Larry and his new wife Cheryl decided to open retail store in a back alley of town. “We filled our shelves with the standard plumbing stock.” Larry said. He remembered how his wife watched the store while he did the service work. Sturm would return at the end of the day & his wife would tell him that they didn’t sell anything. She would say, “Everyone comes in asking for these things we don’t have. What are these?” she asked holding a faucet stem. Larry explained but added that there were far too many varieties out there to stock. A light bulb went off & they made the bold move to specialize in one thing: faucet repair parts.
They drove to Washington DC and filed for a trademark on the name “The Faucet Doctor”. That move is what first put this small town plumber on the radar map. Later, his expertise in solving difficult plumbing problems drew even bigger attention.
While all the plumbers around knew about The Faucet Doctor, their success became apparent when homeowners would travel 3-4 hours to find them. When we started to answer the phone & give directions to Harrison City from Virginia and New York we knew we were on to something.” “Back then we kept a visitor’s book at our counter for people to sign.” “We had people sign in from as far away as Georgia & Colorado for parts”. They would visit relatives here & tell them they had to tear apart walls because no one had the parts they needed.”
That was the situation an editor for Home & Garden Magazine faced when she called. “Her plumber told her it was no longer made, she had to rip out an entire bathroom”. Being very appreciative that they saved her thousands of dollars she directed subscribers to their website www.faucetdoctor.com in the next magazine issue.
About a year later The New York Times was on the phone asking to speak with Larry. They were doing a story & wanted his professional advice. Even the popular Bob Vila Show heard word of this small town plumber. Their writers called in December & spoke with Larry for a story they were doing at their website. The interest hasn’t stopped, Fine Homebuilding magazine wrote to request he submit ideas for plumbing articles that homeowners would be interested in and just recently he won first prize in the national contest by Plumbing & Mechanical magazine for Tool Tips.
Larry looks back at the twists & turns his life took as “the Lord having a plan & purpose for my life”. As the small tidbit of fame & success puts a smile on this plumbers face, Larry is looking ahead towards his next big move with retirement approaching in the next 10 years. “I have no doubt at all the Lord wanted me to be a plumber & I love plumbing. I am looking forward to the time when I can travel and take that passion for my work & use it to help others in poverty torn areas like Appalachia or hurricane stricken areas – that work will be the successful stuff I want to be remembered for.”Phone Number: 724-744-2304
Years in Business: Penn Township's Oldest Plumbing Company: 39 Years Serving Penn Township
Services: Professional, Courteous, Organized...Honest. All types of plumbing service calls.
No Job too Small. No matter where you buy it, we will install it.
Our prices save you $$$. It is a common mistake to find the lowest price as the answer to who to hire for repairs. If someone does not have the tools or the knowledge to figure out the problem they will actually take longer to do the work. They may rip apart your ceiling or walls, dig up your cement ...all 'trying' to find the problem!!! Not only will you pay for all that to be replaced, but if you pay by the hour, this will result in much more cost to the customer than hiring a skilled tradesman. Larry works hard to save his customers money in service calls with extensive knowledge in the plumbing trade & tools to make jobs go faster & easier...all saving the customer time & money. Larry has been published in national plumbing magazines arguing against practices such as Up Front Pricing, fighting that it costs the customers more money when the job is done. When you want a fair price & honest labor charges, Larry is the expert to solve it!
More Information About The Faucet Doctor or Sturm Plumbing
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