Walker Plumbing, Heating & Air, which has been providing plumbing and HVAC services throughout southern Utah for the past 20 years from its base in St. George, gave away $20,000 in home services to two local homeowners in time for last month’s holiday season.
At least that was the “official” dollar amount that the company advertised for the 2022 giveaway. But Bradley McCorkle, Walker’s director of operations, told us at press time that the work might be more when everything is completed.
The contractor began the program last year and called it, “Walker’s Wish.”
“It was a grass-roots effort, all done on our own,” McCorkle adds. “We didn’t really have a dollar amount in mind when he launched the giveaway last year. We just wanted to help someone and set out to see whoever that might be and do whatever it was we could do.”
McCorkle says the company looked through about 40 nominations in 2021 before determining the winner who was so grateful that she returned to the office with homemade cookies.
For the 2022 holiday giveaway, the company put more firepower behind the campaign by partnering with local country music station, 99.9 KONY Country. Listeners could nominate someone or themselves. And the company also increased the dollar amount to the promoted $20,000.
The radio station blasted news about the program all over southern Utah, and Walker ended up with hundreds of submissions. Management whittled down the contenders and company techs visited each finalist to assess everyone’s needs.
While the original thought was to choose one homeowner, as the nominations grew and grew, the company decided to pick two, which were announced on the Monday before Thanksgiving.
“We just decided to go bigger than last year,” McCorkle adds, “and there were two people that really grabbed us so we felt like we couldn’t give the award to just one.”
One of the winners thought she had a huge HVAC issue, but McCorkle says that was an easy hundred-dollar repair.
“As we went through the home, however, the plumbing situation was a nightmare,” McCorkle says.
As a result, the single mom of six will also get a new water heater, water softener and other plumbing fixes. McCorkle adds that several people nominated the woman.
In addition to the plumbing work, techs doubled-down on the HVAC system and replaced other components to make sure her warranty work was updated to ensure trouble-free heat in the winters ahead.
“When we walked into the home for the first time, it really was cold,” McCorkle says. “She just wanted to be warm. She wanted her kids to be warm. And it’s exactly the time of year when we all want to be comfortable.”
The other winner was “like everybody’s grandma,” McCorkle says. The 76-year-old woman living alone was a customer of Walker’s already.
“She had a lot of serious HVAC problems,” McCorkle explains, “and she also had bad credit.”
Before the giveaway was even announced, McCorkle tried his best to work with various lenders and was only able to come up with so much financing.
Sure enough after making some repairs, the whole system conked out two days later. After one of Walker’s techs spent a few hours with the elderly homeowner bringing in some space heaters and blankets, the tech ended up writing the nomination himself on her behalf.
“If it wasn’t for her winning, I think we would have had a very difficult time finding her a lender for an all-new system,” McCorkle says. “And we wanted to take care of her. Like I said, we all see our own grandmas when we see this lady. And we don’t want grandmas to be cold.”
(subhead) Other help
When we talked to McCorkle in early-December, the company was in the midst of its annual holiday food drive. Employees all take part in seeing who can bring in the most amount of donated goods, which is then sent on to a local food bank.
“We consistently get at least a pallet of food each year, if not more,” McCorkle says. “Last year we filled a whole van. It was pretty cool.”
During Walker’s annual Christmas party, the company awards more than a few fishing trips to those who bring in the most food items.
While the details of next year’s giveaway still needs to be worked out, McCorkle did add that the company is hoping to turn Walker’s Wish into more of a year-round charity.
Company founder Brett Walker built the company from the ground up. It originally started with just five employees and has since grown to 43 employees and 25 trucks.
“I think he’s done that by giving back,” McCorkle says about Walker and the business’ success. “He’s a very giving person. He does what he can to lift up our crew and lift up who we can throughout our community.”
This feature is part of our Plumbers Giving Back series, sponsored by the the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO).