SEFFNER — When Jimmy Waldrop walked the halls of Armwood High in the late 1980s, boys wore skinny ties and girls styled big hair-dos with big curls.
In between looking like Sonny Crockett and dating his future wife, Waldrop spent four hours a day in auto mechanic shop class and worked for his father, Tommy, who owned Johnny Doan Plumbing in Seffner.
"I can remember spending every summer digging ditches on houses all day long," said Jimmy, 44. "That's how I got into it."
As Johnny Doan Plumbing approaches its 50th anniversary, Waldrop reflects on how his family business continues to thrive and how much the industry has changed. Last year, Jimmy bought the company from his father, who purchased it in 1985 with business partner Jim Dunger after the two friends worked for the company's namesake since its 1969 inception.
"The first thing is you have to spit out quality work," said Jimmy, whose company offers service within a 50-mile radius of Seffner. "As far as being family, you have to be able to compromise. It's hard."
Waldrop married his Armwood sweetheart, Christie, and the couple has three sons. Cody, 25, is a former 6-foot-4, 315-pound Hawks lineman who earned a scholarship to play at South Carolina. Tucker, 21, works for the family businesses and Jesse, 15, is a freshman at Strawberry Crest High School.
Christie started working at Johnny Doan Plumbing this year as the service director, a direction Jimmy wants to focus on going forward.
"I want to be more of a service-oriented company and less construction," said Jimmy, who wants to flip his current 30 percent service business ratio into 70 percent of the business. "I turn down construction jobs constantly.
"If you can't find work in this industry, you've got something wrong going on. It's out there right now."
Waldrop said plumbing has changed since the times when its office manager, Barbara Morris, first started working at Johnny Doan 38 years ago. Back then, she used a typewriter and the technicians installed copper. The industry has morphed through projects requiring galvanized metal to PVC, CPVC and now PEX tubing. The company has completed projects for the likes of Hillsborough County School District and Moffitt Child Development Center, and it uses video cameras to locate lines and CO2 to freeze water lines during specialty repairs.
Tommy, 65, still help a few days a week, managing construction jobs. Dunger also works part time, while Doan moved to South Carolina and opened another plumbing company bearing his name.
"It's definitely easier now than it was when I started," Jimmy said. "I love the trade. There is a future in this."
Johnny Doan Plumbing has offered 24-hour service for the past three years. Visit doanplumbing.com or call (813) 689-8179.
Seniors community opens in Riverview
A new 55+ community called BridgeWater Landing has opened in Riverview.
Made up of single-family detached and attached homes, it offers a maintenance-free, active adult lifestyle focusing on a healthy, happy lifestyle.
BridgeWater Landing is located in the northwest corner of the intersection of Watson Road and Bloomingdale Avenue, behind IHOP. View floor plans at bridgewaterlanding.com or call (813) 395-2613.
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