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Recognized as a symbol of excellence in the plumbing industry, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors—National Association’s (PHCC’s) Plumbing Contractor of the Year award was presented this year to two deserving professionals: Paul Ongaro of Ongaro & Sons in California and James Lindsey of Lindsey Brothers, Inc., in Virginia.
PHCC’s Hunter Botto and Delta Faucet Company’s Allison McKinney proudly presented the awards to Ongaro and Lindsey – honoring their incredible dedication to the industry and to their peer contractors – during PHCCCONNECT2021, PHCC’s annual conference held this month in Kansas City, Missouri. PHCC Executive Sponsor Delta Faucet Company has sponsored this award since 1985.
As described by PHCC representatives, Ongaro is “the consummate professional, industry advocate and association supporter.” In 1948, Ongaro & Sons became one of the original members of PHCC of California’s Redwood Empire Chapter. “It has played an integral part in the success of the association ever since.”
For more than 20 years, Ongaro himself has served in various leadership positions within the PHCC chapter, including four terms as president. He developed curriculum and taught plumbing, HVAC and hydronics classes, and – from 2015 through 2019 – taught a 25-week Plumbing Code Course, which is the financial backbone of the chapter.
Ongaro is known for generously supporting his PHCC peers. When Ongaro & Sons adopted flat rate pricing – one of the first companies in their area to do so – Ongaro not only trained his employees on these techniques but shared his knowledge with fellow PHCC contractors. Ongaro also was an early adopter of trenchless sewer line replacement, as well as PEX, ProPress and tankless technology, and often leverages industry relationships to secure related product demos and training for PHCC chapter events.
As an advocate for the industry, Ongaro has taken the lead in creating open dialog with local jurisdictions and has been the catalyst for getting new types of equipment and safety devices accepted. He also represents PHCC at local code advisory meetings.
In addition, Ongaro introduced what is now a long-standing tradition and major fundraiser for his local PHCC chapter, the annual Crab Feed, held in conjunction with the chapter’s Installation Dinner.
PHCC’s second plumbing contractor of the year is deserving on many fronts. “Tradesmen throughout Hampton Roads, Virginia, talk about the helpfulness and generosity demonstrated by Lindsey, such as loaning equipment to his competitors,” according PHCC representatives “Many of these individuals got their start at Lindsey Brothers and now own their own companies or work for larger businesses, and they often still refer customers to Lindsey Brothers.”
Contributing to Lindsey Brothers’ stellar reputation is “PHAT” – Professional, Honest, Accountable, Teachable – an acronym for how the company does business and measures their performance. Taking customer feedback very seriously, the company encourages online reviews and contacts every customer to get reviews on the job that was performed and the staff who performed the work. This “Happy Calls” program involves posting good comments in the office while immediately addressing any concerns.
“When you have been in business 55 years, you’ve seen some changes,” Lindsey – who has been a plumber for 74 of his 91 years – has said. In that time, the company has gone from capturing everything on paper to more effectively managing systems like accounting and scheduling electronically.
In 2016, Lindsey Brothers launched a community program – “Handle the Business” – which introduces 15- to 20-year-olds to career opportunities that don’t require a college education. The program is credited with getting an under-served demographic gainfully employed in the trades.
Striving to make a positive difference in its community and in the lives of its customers, Lindsey Brothers also has supported other local organizations, including Virginia Beach CASA, the NAACP, Norfolk State University, WPCE’s “Let’s Make it Difficult for Children to Fail,” and a variety of neighborhood youth groups.
In 2016, the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development recognized Lindsey Brothers – then celebrating its 50th anniversary – as one of the oldest African-American plumbing and heating companies in the United States.