“That irritates me to no end, but at the same time none of our guys do it,” said Jake Hartley, owner of Combs Plumbing at 102 E. Cannon St., a 54-year-old business that he inherited from his grandfather, Charles E. Combs.
“We’re conscious of that image and try to avoid it,” he said. “We get them to show up with their shirts tucked in.”
Helping people and diagnosing difficult plumbing issues gives Hartley the most satisfaction, and he enjoys meeting new people and seeing what’s going on in the community.
“I’ve been around it all my life with my grandfather,” said Hartley, 37. “I remember crawling up in the truck in grade school and helping him with jobs.”
After working in the business for 10 years, Hartley took over when his grandfather, known as “Buck,” died in February 2001. To help pay his medical bills, they sold the former shop on Vernon Road and found a more affordable building on East Cannon Street.
Business has been a little slow lately, but Hartley said he wasn’t affected as much as other plumbing companies when the housing market crashed. That’s because Hartley and his crew - David Simmons, Jeff Robertson, Tony Jennings and office manager Brad Morgan - focus mainly on service and repair, rather than new construction.
“We’re geared toward the service side,” he said. “That’s what we try to stay on top of.”
Combs Plumbing has done a lot of work on the new campus of West Georgia Technical College as well as LaGrange College, his two biggest clients.
Hartley said drain stoppages and toilet problems are the main reasons people call for his services.
His advice: “Keep those cleaning products out of toilet tanks. Use a cleaner that sits on the inside of the toilet bowl. Anything that goes inside the tank deteriorates the tank parts very quickly. With a new toilet, it usually voids the warranty if you put a cleaning product inside the tank.”
Many people are reluctant to call a plumber, fearing it’s going to cost an arm and a leg, but “usually it winds up costing less,” Hartley said. “It usually costs them more if they try to handyman it.”
Joel Martin can be reached at jmartin@lagrangenews. com or (706) 884-7311, Ext. 235.