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Living the good life

image Leif Benavides, owner of Good Leif Plumbing

SAN ANTONIO - Leif Benavides is living proof there is no rule that one’s work has to be drudgery. “I’ve been doing this for so long, it’s not even a job anymore,” he said. “It’s my hobby; it’s what I like to do. I get up every morning and I’m ready to go.”





    Benavides has never had another job other than plumbing. “I knew when I was teeny-tiny I was going to be a plumber. I started plumbing when I was 13 years old with my grandfather,” he said.
    Thus, Benavides is living the good life. (His first name is pronounced “Life.” He was named after the actor Leif Erickson, who starred in The High Chaparral, a western that ran from 1967-71. When Benavides was being born and his dad was in the waiting room, which fathers did back then, The High Chaparral was on the television, and his dad saw Leif Erickson on it.)
    Benavides started Good Leif Plumbing only a year and change ago at the age of 45. He took the plunge after a work situation with a family friend didn’t work out.
    He got his official start in plumbing when he was 15 and was a hired hand at a plumbing company. One day, a plumber came in and said his helper didn’t show up. Benavides’ boss volunteered him to go with the plumber on his job.
    After high school, Benavides did his apprenticeship with a local union for four years and continue with other plumbing companies.
    Eventually, he got his masters and Responsible Licensed Plumber (RLP) certification and was ready to go when he decided to go out on his own, much to his wife’s surprise.
    He thought to himself: “I’m 45 years old - why not try it?”
    Being in Adkins, Benavides sees two things: plumbers around there like to go to the “big city” of San Antonio to do work, and plumbers in San Antonio don’t want to go out to the smaller, outlining areas outside town. His philosophy is simple: “I’ll take care of you. Just call me!”
    “I love working with people,” Benavides said. “I love being around people. In this line of business, you never know what you’re going to see.” (Some things he described can’t be printed. Trust me.)
    “I’ve seen all kinds of stuff,” he said. “I’ve come across a little bit of everything.”
    Starting his own business at 45 was a challenge. Benavides said, slightly tongue in cheek: “I used to have hair and I used to have a dark mustache. Now, everything is either balding or going white.”
    Be that as it may, Benavides added that “with word of mouth and being extremely honest and reliable, it’s keeping me busy.”
    “I go all over,” he said. “Wherever they call, I go. I’ve learned that if you’re nice to people, it will always come back.”  With a good deal of houses being built in his area Benavides is trusting that a house built today will have a plumbing problem tomorrow. Hence, he will gladly take the call.
    While other construction trades can have jobs booked for weeks and months, Benavides said he’s at the beck and call of the homeowner and said “a lot of prayers” are used regularly. “You have to have faith in your God that you’ll get the call,” he said.
    “This is not a job,” he said. “I have fun. I wake up and can’t wait to go to work.”
    Benavides has no intention of taking his foot off the gas pedal. His 16-year old son works with him during school breaks and he wants to leave his business for his kids and grandkids. “That’s the future of Good Leif Plumbing,” he said.
    “Every day is an adventure,” he said, “so how would you not like to get up and go to work because you never know what you’re going to find.”
    “I’m not doing it to get rich or be a millionaire,” he added. “I’m doing it to help people.”
    This sounds like a very good life indeed.
    Good Leif Plumbing is a plumbing contractor in Adkins. -dsz

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Author Info
Dan Zulli dan@constructionnews.net