You may not associate women with plumbing, but Tammy Wadina is one local lady who’s changing perceptions in the Valley. The 39-year-old Cave Creek resident owns OMW Plumbing, a 24/7, same-day plumbing company serving the entire Valley, as well as Tucson. Wadina, a licensed plumber, says she applies the same hospitality values she gleaned from her restaurant industry experience to her plumbing business she began in 2012, while her background in marketing and advertising has also been beneficial as a business owner.
Read on for Wadina’s plumbing maintenance tips, as well as to hear five reasons why she loves living in the Valley, below.
What brought you to Arizona?
I’m from Greenfield, Wisconsin and moved here with my sister when I graduated college with a degree in business administration and hospitality management from Mount Mary College 14 years ago. We had aunts and uncles we had visited here, and we wanted to move to a warmer climate.
How did you get into the plumbing industry?
My father managed and owned various properties, and he is very handy and was always dealing with tenants’ issues. He would show me how to hang things, how to fix things, and how to do things under the sink. I fell in love with the business after going out on jobs for years.
What’s your first memory of wanting to own your own business?
Ever since I was a kid, I was a sales person, whether it was setting up a lemonade stand or selling Girl Scout cookies. I always had a passion for creating things, so it was a natural progression.
How does OMW Plumbing stand out from other plumbing services in the Valley?
I bring hospitality to plumbing. I’m very sincerely engaged with every person who calls me. I answer my own calls and dispatch my own plumbers. I’m truly hands-on in every aspect of my business and truly care about every detail that’s going on.
How do you think being a woman-owned plumbing business differentiates you in a male-dominated industry?
I take everything so personally and want it to be a great experience, even though it’s just plumbing, and we may just be unclogging your toilet. I want it to be memorable, from the person who answers the phone, to the person who comes out to help. Whether you’re purchasing something, getting on a flight, going to an amusement park, or getting plumbing services, everything is an experience, so why not make it a good one?
I think people naturally trust me more as a woman, because they might think, “Wow, there’s a woman behind this business. She must have a different way of operating it,” and I certainly do. I always want to make sure everyone is comfortable, and all their questions are answered. I think trust is a huge factor.
Do you think there are any downfalls to being a woman-owned business in a male-dominated industry?
No. I think there could always be the expectation that I’m a woman and I don’t know anything, but once they talk to me, they realize I’m intelligent and really know a lot about my business. I’m respected by all the engineers I work with. Hotels, restaurants, resorts, whatever it be, they respect my opinion and see I know what I’m talking about.
What are the biggest benefits and challenges to being a business owner?
I love being a business owner because I get to decide how we service people, and no one can control that but me.
A challenge is that your business is your life. You can never really take a day off because you’re always doing something that affects your business.
Besides your experience growing up with your dad, why choose to work in the plumbing industry?
It’s recession-proof. Everyone always asks me, “Why don’t you just open up a restaurant?”, but I service restaurants. I’m around them and do work with a lot of businesses in the hospitality industry because I love the industry and am passionate about it. If I open a restaurant, I have to hope people come in to keep me afloat. With plumbing, everyone is going to have issues, and it’s not going anywhere.
What are your goals?
I want to grow my business but never want to be so big where it loses that personal touch of our service, which some of those larger companies out there lack. I also want to keep my costs low, because the bigger you get, the more you’re charging because you have more overhead.
What’s the best plumbing tip you can pass on?
It’s obvious, but it holds so much importance to the safety of your home: if you have a fixture that’s spewing water everywhere, whether it be the kitchen faucet or the bath, you need to know how to shut off your main valve. You don’t want to call someone and wait, while your house has water everywhere. As small as it is, it’s a big deal.
What’s a good preventative tip?
A lot of people are reactive rather than proactive. When it comes to their HVAC, they might regularly tune it up and change the filters, but with plumbing, people don’t think in those terms, even though they should.
Have someone come through and look at all your plumbing. There is a standard plumbing inspection, so they can tell you, “Hey, there’s corrosion in this water heater, it’s been leaking, this might happen,” and then you can forecast some of the things that might happen in your house and work to prevent them in the near-future.
When is it vital to call a plumber?
If you see anything leaking out of your water heater, that’s a sign to call someone out. When your water heater starts leaking, that’s a sign it’s going to flood your garage or wherever it is in the house. I look at my water heater every day, because I know it’s a little older.
You can live with a leaky faucet, but you’re paying for that. And if you see a water bill spike up, that’s an indication there’s a leak somewhere in the house. That could be in a wall, it could be under a floor – you want to have a professional come out and look at that.
What advice would you have for someone who wants to own their own business?
Be ready to put your all into it and commit to it. It’s very difficult if you’re not motivated yourself. If you’re not self-motivated, it can be a truly hard thing to do, because there’s no one telling you, “Here are the hours to work, here’s what to put into it.” You have to be able to give it your all and do it every day.
Networking within your industry is also extremely important.
Why should people use OMW Plumbing?
We’re going to wow them. Anyone who has used us, from the smallest call to the largest call, says, “Wow, you’re on my speed dial, and I’d recommend you to anyone.” I think that’s a huge compliment to what our service must be.