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Celebrating a journey

image L-R: Trisha and Albert Ramirez, co-owners of A-RAM Plumbing

SAN ANTONIO - Celebration is in the air, or rather the pipes and drains. Albert and Patricia (Trisha) Ramirez are celebrating their business, A-RAM Plumbing for hitting 20 years of service in San Antonio.






    Starting out working from their home and learning how to master the business,  Albert says, “At night we would sit down and do all our estimating till 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning, and to get all our invoicing out.”
    Interest in plumbing struck Albert while attending Kennedy High School, where he took his first training course. Soon after, he moved to Washington D.C. with his sister and started off as a plumber’s helper. “I started out making $4 an hour,” he says.
    Fast forward, he’s back in San Antonio and joined the local union. Him and Trisha married in ’89. Then the unfortunate occurs as he is laid off. Albert would find work elsewhere for the next several years. During those years he received his masters license and decided to venture off on his own. Well, with Trisha of course.
    “I told him no! You’ve got a paycheck; you’ve got a company truck,” Trisha explains. “Why do you want to do it?” Albert’s response was because he was tired of the headaches that were not his headaches. “There was plenty of times I wanted to quit and get out and she said no. We finally said okay, but  getting out or quitting is not an option; we got to make this work.” Trisha’s thoughts were we have two families, our personal and our employees.
    In 2002, Trisha was juggling her two children (soon to be three), and  a full time job in the corporate world, until she was laid off. “Our youngest daughter was born and I got to stay home and nurture her and then I had to make a decision – return to corporate America where I was or help our business. I decided to help our business.”
     “We’d been in business from ‘98 to ‘02. We were trying everything, but we really didn’t have a niche,” Trisha says. She then got connected with the construction industry and got involved with the Hispanic Contractors Association of San Antonio. “I started researching how much resource and help was out there for small businesses and I just ran with it. Anything I thought was going to help us move forward I did. I went to seminars and classes.”
    All the effort led to discovering the company’s niche. It was facilities maintenance and repairs, in particular running 24/7. She assures it was a commitment. “One of the things we put into our packages when we do proposals is they’re not going to get an answering service, they are not going to get an answering machine, they get us. If we cannot get someone to cover for us, it’s Albert and I. We’ve built on that the last 10 years.”
    The couple vouches that the mentoring received through the city, county, and protégé programs was a piece to solving the plumbing puzzle. Trish adds it was also Bartlett Cocke and F.A. Nunnelly’s mentoring they found instrumental while coming out of the economic recession, they found themselves in the red during that time and the frustration struck. It wasn’t until they were given small jobs that brought them back to the table. “Just to get to the table to talk to them about a job was a lot. I was scared. When you go to the table and you have a $300,000 job to talk about, it gets a little scary,” Albert says.
    The business laid in the company’s niche and boy did they get good at it. “There’s not a job that we can’t do,” he says.
    Today A-RAM has 15 employees, five crews, and three office workers. A-RAM has all their certifications that make them a Texas HUB. Trisha says, “All that is a result of planting seeds many years back. You can’t see it when you’re doing it, but it does sprout and eventually you do very well.”
    Albert and Trisha have much to look forward to. Launching in 1998, A-RAM’s anniversary is on Jan. 5th.  They also have their kids keeping them busy, from sporting events to an upcoming wedding. Albert leaves us with, “I’m having a hard time walking my daughter down the aisle. She’s my first one,” he says with a twinkle in his eye.
     There you have it, drop the tool belt, because it’s time to celebrate.
    A-RAM Plumbing is plumbing subcontractor in San Antonio. – lv/cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net