A Chamber member since 2010, Karen Lundberg Barrows, owner of Bewley Plumbing, LLC shares her business insights.
What inspired you to start your business?
The business actually started many years ago, in 1947 by Ray Bewley. Ray Bewley sold the business in the 1980’s and my father, Norvel Lundberg, assumed operations of the company in 1992. I have worked for the last 25 years in numerous roles with Bewley Plumbing. After my father’s death in 2011, I continued to manage the day to day operations as well as ownership. With the continued efforts and commitment to servicing our customers, my brother-in- law, Kevin Broderick, has served as the Service Manager. The goal has always been to build on community and customer relationships and provide a dependable plumber.
What services or products do you offer?
Our focus and commitment have always been plumbing repairs. We have concentrated mainly on residential customers and with the growth of Collin and Denton County it has kept us very busy. Bewley Plumbing continues to keep our commercial customers happy and continues to search for more growth in the area. In all occasions, Bewley offers licensed technicians who install quality products with labor and manufacturing warranties.
What is unique about your business?
The number of odd looks or responses from people after I tell them I own a plumbing company. The fact we have been in the area for 70 years is also unique. I am very proud of the reputation and relationships we have built over all these years.
How does your business give back to the community?
We have always been active in the community. Our relationships will continue and past involvement includes the Mickey Mantle World Series tournament, Strikes against cancer, McKinney Police F.O.P association and Frisco education foundation. Every October we edit our advertisements to include Breast Cancer Awareness month. As a disease that has affected me and my family, it is important that we increase awareness of the disease and preventive and screen care. My mom passed in 1996 from breast cancer and I am a two-time survivor. Early screening and detection are very important.
What obstacles did you have to overcome to get where are today?
When I assumed ownership of Bewley I encountered several obstacles. A women in a male dominated industry will always be challenging. One example was when I replaced our fleet of trucks. After a number of attempts with dealerships, I was successful in finding a dealer who recognized my knowledge of the industry, finances and looking to buy today. I talk a little about this on our website bewleyplmbing.com. The service industry is very competitive. The fact that we are a 70-year operation has its benefits in a growing community. We always have to differentiate Bewley from our competitors.
What methods have you used to grow your business?
We have always believed personal customer service is the number one goal to grow a business. It is the referral, reviews, service that gains market share. We continue to offer military, first responders and teacher discounts that get us an opportunity to serve. It’s the level of service that grows those relationships.
What is the secret to keeping happy customers?
Providing personal service with quality workmanship is the simplest way to explain it, but it does beyond that. The relationship with customers is more than show up, do the job and move to the next. Follow up phone calls with the customers, react quickly to concerns, and do what you say you will do. The service industry to too crowd with providers and it is easy for a customer to move to the next if you don’t meet their needs. If you’re honest and talk to them with respect, customers can find a partner, not a plumber.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My father has been my greatest inspiration. With a successful plumbing business in Texarkana, Texas he lost everything due to partners, suppliers and a difficult contract. The family moved to McKinney to start fresh. His dedication to hard work and overcoming obstacles is what I admired most. Bewley has employed over 75 people in the 25 years I have been there. My Dad cared for the business, the employees and the community.
What is your most/least favorite thing about your business?
The most favorite thing about us is we are a growing business but are still small enough to feel like a family. We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and when a technician reaches another certification. We lean on each other as brothers and sisters. The least favorite is when one of our guys has to leave. It is sad when you have such a tight team.
Where do you see your business going in the future?
The strategic plan is to continue growth without the “big” company feel. Customers want a partner they can call and get the same person every time. I will continue to find ways to add value to our service. I would like to see us get more active in social media and technology for our customers and technicians.
To what do you attribute your success?
The operation would not be what it is without committed and energized technicians. The last 25 years have been tough, but providing customers with a choice in plumbing providers and delivering on our commitment keeps us excited to do even more.