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Patriotic plumbing

image Jessie Santibañez (third from right) owner of Old Glory Plumbing, with his team

SAN ANTONIO - Jessie Santibañez owned a bar when he was 22, probably thinking this was a good gig to have. But when one of his customers asked him to help out with a plumbing job, and when Santibañez saw how much money this guy made from this job, that’s when he knew he wasn’t going to be San Antonio’s version of “Cheers.”




    (The bar business didn’t work out anyway because Santibañez said he didn’t have the business savvy needed to run it. Plus, he was imbibing too often with his customers. Oh, well…)
    “This is definitely where I want to be,” Santibañez said of his Aha! moment with plumbing. He worked with this guy for a while but moved on to another plumber when the first one developed a drug problem.
    This second mentor told Santibañez to learn the trade well and stick with it as plumbing could provide a good living.
    He became a journeyman and worked with this guy for four years before moving out to San Diego to be with his wife who was in the Navy. While in San Diego, he applied for his master’s license, came back to Texas to take his test and passed it.
    When Santibañez moved back to Texas in 2010, he decided to work for himself. That’s when he started Old Glory Plumbing. His Navy wife suggested that name.
    For the first several months, it was just Santibañez. “I would take on any service people would call me on - any hour, any time of the day, any day of the week,” he said. Because of this hard work ethic, “I started building a strong clientele.”
    While some plumbing contractors have specialized niches in the trade, such as residential service only, Santibañez has none. “I’m all over San Antonio,” he said. “We do it all.” Old Glory Plumbing does service, new construction, custom homes, residential, commercial and utilities. He’s gone from New Braunfels to Castroville and everywhere in between.
    “We’re pretty busy,” he said, but “still trying to get to the next level.”
    At present, Santibañez works out of his mother’s former house near the AT&T Center but hopes to soon have his own shop. Despite having to deal with the traffic from Spurs’ games and other activities at the AT&T Center, it’s a good location to be able to respond from in any direction.
    Old Glory Plumbing has had up to 10 employees before, but now runs things with five.
    One thing that has restricted growth a bit is not taking on some of the bigger jobs. Big contracts sometimes pay 30 or 60 days after the fact, which makes it harder for a smaller company to operate.
    Santibañez learned how to manage things when he was the foreman at his plumbing company in San Diego. He had to oversee the projects, handle the crews, do paperwork and work the schedule. “That was good training for me,” he said.
    Still, he admits that becoming his own business owner wasn’t all smooth sailing. “There is a learning curve and I’m still learning,” he said. “I have to learn with the growth of the company.”
    With providing a wide variety of plumbing services, Santibañez gets the most satisfaction from simply having a satisfied customer at the end of the day. Old Glory’s motto is: “We pledge to take care of our customers.” Santibañez says, “If we don’t do it right, we go back and make sure it’s right.” While mistakes are rare, they do happen.
    “Service is what I enjoy most,” he concluded.
    For the future, Santibañez said he wants to pay off some of his equipment and then get bigger projects and then more employees. His two nephews and son work for him, and the plan is for them to be have part ownership of Old Glory Plumbing.
    Just as our nation’s flag has remained steady through thick and thin, Old Glory Plumbing wants to do  the same for its customers.
    Old Glory Plumbing is a plumbing contractor in San Antonio. -dsz

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Author Info
Dan Zulli dan@constructionnews.net