WATERLOO — With a business that spans more than five generations, Young Plumbing & Heating Co. is a Cedar Valley institution.
John Thomas, sales and service manager, believes that’s because the company adheres to its roots.
“Young Plumbing & Heating Co. is a family-owned business with high family values,” he explained.
In many ways, he added, the company attends to needs that go beyond the job. This includes company-sponsored activities for employees and their families as well as corporate policies that demonstrate there’s more to life than work.
“Flexibility with time off for family events, children’s sporting events or emergencies is rarely a problem,” Thomas explained. “They care about (our) health and wellness, with monthly safety meetings, and encourage fitness in many different ways.”
It’s a forward-thinking approach that has helped Young Plumbing & Heating continue to grow and broadened its employee base for decades, he added.
The company traces its roots to Young Coal Co. in the 1880s. By the turn of the 20th century, Young Coal expanded to harvesting, storing and selling ice from the Cedar River.
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In 1943, brothers Bob and Dick H. Young founded an offshoot called Young Heating Co., which originally sold and serviced oil burners. By the end of the decade, natural gas was introduced to the metro area. As a result, the heating company hired technicians to sell, install and service natural gas burners and furnaces.
The 1950s brought the addition of plumbing, then residential and commercial air conditioning. During those years, Young’s seasoned workforce of skilled technicians helped the company expand from residential, retail and office buildings to include commercial and industrial plumbing and HVAC business.
In 1968, the Young brothers incorporated, bringing on Arnold Becker as a co-owner. Descendants of all three remain involved in the business, including President Mark Tink, Becker’s son-in-law, and Vice President Travis Young.
“Travis Young and Mark Tink are the best people to work for,” said Tom Williams, a plumber. “(They) always have an open-door policy if I have questions (and are) great people to talk to.”
Over the years, the company has strengthened its market share in residential and commercial plumbing and ventilation while branching out into excavation, mechanical engineering, sheet metal fabrication, welding, geothermal systems and more.
Most of the work keeps the company’s more than 160 employees in northeastern Iowa.
“I have worked here for 10 years, and I love it,” said Williams, who left a 21-year career in retail to become a plumber.
Like the company’s owners, he’s a legacy; William’s father retired from Young Plumbing & Heating after 35 years.