In the early 1990s, Greg Canfield was working for a father and son plumbing business when he thought he might try working for himself instead.
“I just thought it would be a good idea to be self-employed,” he explains. So the Lowell resident saved up $10,000 and in 1994, Canfield Plumbing was formed. Canfield figured he could beg for his old job back if the business wasn’t successful, but that wouldn’t be necessary. His endeavor was warmly received by the community, and Canfield found he didn’t even have to dip into the $10,000 he had saved.
That was 25 years ago, and Canfield Plumbing has turned into Canfield Plumbing & Heating. It has become a local fixture, and its owner plans to continue to provide quality service in the years to come.
Business Built on Customer Service
Canfield says his business philosophy is simple: “Treat your customers and employees like you like to be treated.” He encourages his workers to approach every house call from the perspective of what services or products would they recommend to their mom, their grandma or other loved one. “It’s not about how much we can sell them,” he says.
“We’re not perfect,” Canfield adds. In those situations when a mistake is make or a customer is unhappy, he is quick to try to resolve the problem.
That’s given the company a reputation for honesty and excellence and helped it grow throughout the years. “Most companies have to chase business to stay busy,” Canfield notes, but Canfield Plumbing & Heating has grown through personal referrals rather than advertising.
From Plumbing to Heating and More
For the first 10 years, plumbing accounted for about 95% of Canfield’s business. About 15 years ago, he added services for heating and cooling systems, and calls today are split about 50/50 between the plumbing and heating sides of the company.
That isn’t the only way the business has changed over the years either. Originally, Canfield worked only on new construction projects. However, he saw the warning signs that the new home market was drying up and transitioned to the repair and maintenance of existing systems just in time to weather the 2008 housing market collapse and recession. “We didn’t lay anyone off – just switched our focus,” Canfield says.
And the company continues to evolve. About six months ago, a master electrician stopped in to ask about job opportunities and was hired. Now, Canfield Plumbing & Heating can complete electrical repairs and install whole house generators in addition to working on plumbing, heating and air conditioning calls of all kinds. The company’s service area covers most places within a 30 minute drive of Lowell.
Future Plans for Canfield Plumbing & Heating
Although obviously a successful businessman, Canfield describes himself as “really just a plumber.”
“I’m more happy being the guy out there turning wrenches,” he says. The business side of his job can be challenging, especially since Canfield had no formal business education at the start. He did go back to school to take business classes and earn a two-year degree but says he has learned from his mistakes more than from a book.
As he nears retirement age, Canfield hopes to be able to step away from the day-to-day operations of the company in the coming years. After a quarter century working from 6am-10pm many days, he’s ready for a more relaxed pace of life.
Still, he has no intention of abandoning his company. After spending 25 years building up a business that now employs 25 people, he wants to remain involved, even in retirement. Maybe he’ll manage the business from the beach, he says with a laugh.
While future plans remain uncertain, Canfield knows the company’s successful past and present couldn’t have happened without community support. “We are fortunate that Lowell has been really good to us,” he says. “Thanks for the great ride it’s been.”