Joe's Job: Plumber


by Joe Flanagan, 13News Now

Posted on February 5, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 5 at 6:40 PM

NORFOLK -- I was training with Vince Heine who's been a plumber for over thirty years.  We had to install a couple of sinks and a shower in an apartment on the third floor of a building near the Norfolk Zoo.

"This will take quite a few hours, probably about three," Heine said.

Heine is part of an 18-man team that travels in nine trucks for Norfolk Plumbing.  You may have heard of them -- they're the guys located near the Midtown Tunnel who claim the pounding from constructing the new tunnel caused one of their buildings to buckle. 

This day, our job was a welcome relief.  During the recent snowfall and freeze plumbers across Hampton Roads were extremely busy. 

"Me and my helper Carlos put in 73 hours," Heine noted.

"We took 160-plus calls in two days," said Norfolk Plumbing owner Jeff Hux.  "So it was pretty active.  We had some crews out working till one in the morning, two nights in a row."

Our little job of caulking and installing a sink was nothing compared to what crews went through. I asked Heine what type of person it takes to be a good plumber.

"Someone who's willing to work and put in a little bit of overtime.  Try to get people satisfied and get water back on -- that's the main thing," said Heine.

There are a lot of plumbing companies in Hampton Roads and these guys agree there seems to be enough work for everybody.  But can a plumber make a good living here?

"Oh, absolutely. A good plumber could easily make $50,000 a year," added Hux.

Carlos is in the VoTech program that Norfolk Public Schools sponsors.

"After a four-year apprenticeship program you get to take your test for your journeyman license and a year later you can take your masters test," said Hux.

I asked Heine how he thought I would do working as a plumber.

"I think you would do good. You did good trimming out around the kitchen sink.  Hooked up our shower head faucet.  I think you would do good," concluded Heine.