SHERIDAN — Zowada Plumbing and Heating celebrated 50 years in business on Dec. 7 with friends and customers. The rich history of the company started with one man — John Zowada — venturing out on his own to make a name for himself as a plumber. Today, the company employs four certified plumbers and provides plumbing and heating services for the Sheridan community in a new age of plumbing services.
The fourth and current owner of the business, Luke Roush, was born into the line of work, but he was nearly pushed away from the trade because of the negative connotation associated with job pursuits not needing a four-year college degree.
“Everybody wanted to go to college when they got out of high school,” Roush said. “The school systems didn’t push (the trades) for a long time…when we went to high school, there wasn’t a lot of talk of trades; it was college and that was it, no trade schools. That’s starting to shift now finally.”
Roush said in the last two years, he’s felt that idea has changed educationally, but workload still overpowers the number of qualified professionals available to complete that work.
It takes a lot of time and effort to earn the position Roush is in today. Although Roush often worked beside his grandfather and father, who were both plumbers, Roush still had to work his way through an apprenticeship. Roush spent four years of apprenticing to earn his journeyman’s license, plus another four years, or 8,000 hours of labor, to receive a masters in plumbing.
“So, it’s similar when you think about a masters in college, you put in eight years,” Roush said. “The only kicker with it is you get to make money the whole time you’re putting in your time.”
Now, apprentices only need to complete two years before qualifying to take the journeyman’s license test. Still, Zowada has enough work that most customers have to wait at least a week for non-emergency plumbing service. Roush said other plumbing companies around town have the same issue and have work scheduled out one to two weeks. To accommodate for those emergencies, Zowada offers a 24-hour on-call service.
Needless to say, Zowada’s has easily remained in business the last 50 years. Roush said John Zowada started his business responding to house calls with his equipment loaded in his station wagon. He completed mainly service work and some small residential. The company grew to accommodate plumbing for commercial projects.
Zowada eventually hired additional staff to help him attend to the growing needs, and the company became what it is today.
Tammy Thiel has worked for the company for more than 11 years and remembers John Zowada walking over from his home across the street to the workshop after retiring just to check on how things were going.
The biggest change Thiel has seen in her office position is the increase in technology. She said when the plumbers are planning to service a customer, they will have the customer text them a photograph of the issue so they can show up at the service site with proper equipment and parts.
Roush said that’s particularly helpful for distant customers located out in the county or beyond when popping back in the office is not an option when the customer is two hours away.
The advancement from copper piping to hard plastic has made jobs easier and less expensive, so Roush said customers are receiving better-quality materials for the same price or cheaper.
Many things have changed in the plumbing world in the last 50 years, but for Zowada Plumbing and Heating, Roush said the company still provides quality service for its customers as a small-town, non-commercialized, locally-owned business.
“Since we’re all little people, we like to take care of the little people, too,” Roush said.