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Home | HOUSTON | Spotlight | Spotlight - Jason Santhoff, Santhoff Plumbing LLC

Spotlight - Jason Santhoff, Santhoff Plumbing LLC

image The Santhoffs L-R: Nicholas, Julie, Eliahna, Jason and Gabriel

HOUSTON - Jason Santhoff helped out in his dad’s plumbing company at an early age, but didn’t return to the family business until he had seen the world a bit and worked for another plumbing supply company. With his dad retiring soon, Santhoff has decided there really is no place like home, and now he helps run the Santhoff Plumbing LLC with his brother James.




Share about your upbringing and introduction to the industry.
    I was born and raised in Richmond, TX. My father originally started Santhoff Plumbing back in 1974. He moved here from St. Louis, MO and started work as a plumbing apprentice. After just a few years, he decided to start his own company. A fond memory I have growing up is, on the weekends when we were out of school, my three siblings and I would ride in Dad’s plumbing truck and help him on jobs.

Did you think then that plumbing might be a career path?

    It was definitely a thought as a child that plumbing was something I would like to do. After high school, I worked for my father as a plumbing apprentice for about six months, but decided that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. It was very strenuous work with long hours, and there was so much to learn about plumbing.
    Wanting to venture out on my own, I decided to join the military. I never really traveled very much as a young child or in my teenage years, so it was very intriguing and interesting to me. I went ahead and enlisted in the Navy in 2000. I was stationed on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Harry Truman and was first deployed to the Middle East in Bahrain and spent a lot of time in the Arabian Sea. From there, we went on to several ports – Turkey, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom, France and Spain. It made me have a newfound respect for growing up in the United States, the freedom and the comforts we have. I spent a lot of time in Bahrain and it’s completely different. One thing I remember about the culture was that even though hundreds of thousands of people lived there, I didn’t see anybody because we arrived during the Ramadan period. That was definitely an eye-opener.

When your military service ended, what was your next step?
    My wife and I actually met while we were in the service. We both got out around the same time and had an idea to live in Houston for a few years, and then move to California, where my wife is from, for a few years, but that never happened. Houston offered us good opportunities and a much lower cost of living.
    I started to look for a job in Houston. Barnett (Interline Brands), a national supply company that sold plumbing, electrical and air conditioning supplies, was hiring for a counter sales position. I put in my application, interviewed and got the job. I started off at Barnett in an entry-level position, and was there for over 10 years. I worked my way up to become a regional sales and operations manager from Texas up to Iowa and everything west. After that, I put in my resignation about six months in advance, trained my replacement and at the end of that six months I left Interline Brands and came on with Santhoff Plumbing in 2015.

Why did you join Santhoff Plumbing?

    My father plans to retire in the next few years and asked me to join my older brother James Santhoff in taking over the family business. James is a journeyman plumber and has been doing this for 20 years.

What was it like to join your brother?

    It has been a pleasant experience coming in with my brother. I feel I’m good when it comes to the business side, and my brother’s niche is the technical side. We’re a 50/50 balance. He explains different jobs, what is going on with the jobs and why and I respect that information. On the same front, I have quarterly meetings with James and explain the health of the company, the direction we’re going and why we’re going that direction. We support each other and make a good team.

What adjustments have you made to your working style in this position?

    When I worked for Barnett, which was a corporation, there were a lot of moving components and parts. Something that I had to fine-tune (and one thing that I truly value about small business) is the fact that when you want to implement a change, it’s not a year or a really drawn-out process with several different steps. What I love is that a decision can be made and the implementation process is real-time. If we have a meeting, we discuss it and the next day it’s rolled out to our team. That’s a big pro for me.
    At Barnett, I was so used to working late hours and traveling so much; this new role is definitely different. Managing one business rather than nine businesses simultaneously and remotely is complex and strenuous. Now I’m able to focus my time and energy into one company, see my team daily and build my morale, productivity and everything that goes along with it.

How has the business changed?
    When I first came on board in 2015, we had six full-time service plumbers, James and my father worked as the support staff team in the field, and we had one person in the office. Today, we have nine service trucks, one dedicated field support manager, with James and Joe still supporting us and estimating jobs. Including myself, we have three full-time and two part-time office staff. 
    We have recently been in the process of converting over to a new dispatching and paperless invoicing system to improve our efficiency for our customers and our technicians.

What do you enjoy about your work?

    What I enjoy most is the positive impact we have on our employees. A couple of years ago, we hired a young man who had worked several other jobs, but never really found anything that he could call a career. He recently passed his evaluation and said that he truly thinks this is his career path and he found it at the age of 41 years old. Santhoff Plumbing is a company he says he can stay with until he retires and really advance and do well with it. He said he had never had that opportunity in the past, from a career or financial standpoint. He’s always lived paycheck to paycheck. Now, he doesn’t have to live that way again. That’s the biggest takeaway for me – impacting our employees’ lives.

Are you compared to your dad?
    Absolutely! My father is very knowledgeable in the plumbing industry, but times are changing and I believe we must move forward or get left behind. We’re putting a lot more marketing and advertising dollars into online advertising and he does not understand it! He says we should just put an ad in the Yellow Pages, which is almost obsolete. We have constant conversations where I do my best to bring our business up to the 21st century.

What is your plan for the business?

    Growing our business and building a team and work environment that we all can value and appreciate. We are currently in the process of building a new facility on the southwest side of Houston towards Missouri City. We are outgrowing our current location and hoping to add assets to the company. Having a larger facility will allow us to stock more inventory, park our trucks onsite and give us room to grow.
Share about your family and interests.

    My wife, Julie, and I have been married 15 years this year. We have three children: Gabriel, 13, Eliahna, 11 and Nicholas, 10. Both of our sons play little league baseball and our daughter is a football cheerleader, so we are constantly on the go. As a family, we enjoy camping all over Texas and this summer we are planning a trip to Arkansas.
    James and I love to go fishing down at the coast. During the spring and summer months, we go fishing as often as possible in Port O’Connor and Matagorda Bay. I also enjoy poker nights with the guys, traveling and riding our motorcycle in the hill country.

Do you think you will always play a role in Santhoff Plumbing?

    Honestly, I am undecided about having an exit strategy. We hope to keep the company family-owned and –operated for years to come.
    Subcontractor Santhoff Plumbing LLC is located in Bellaire. –mjm

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Author Info

Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net