Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about Wiley’s Plumbing & Heating and your responsibilities.
Jason Wiley: My father and I started the company in 2004; he passed away in 2010. My mother and me are the owners of the company. Originally my father wanted to start a business where he could take care of the community and a select few people and give some guys some wages. We started out in his garage and then rented a little storage unit. Ten years later I have 14 employees and 10 trucks on the road. I do all the estimates, public relations, payroll, books — I do just about everything you can imagine.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Wiley: I started when I was 14 or 15 as a shopboy in plumbing shops, so I kind of had a pretty good headstart. I was always told you can go to school and get a degree or you can learn a trade. I got into it and never looked back, but a lot of it was the influence of my father kind of pushing me along.
NNBW: What’s your company’s focus?
Wiley: Our company is set up in four areas: New construction plumbing and HVAC and the service side is split the same way between plumbing and HVAC. We do a lot of commercial tenant improvements, but we can everything from small service calls to big industrial jobs.
NNBW: Is it hard to compete with some of the larger plumbing and HVAC companies in town?
Wiley: I don’t normally go after big jobs that require a lot of manpower because I don’t have manpower to pull from. I have an awesome crew, but we don’t have the size or capability to do those really big jobs. I find it harder to compete against the little one- or two-man shops because they don’t have the overhead and can undercut on pricing.
NNBW: How did the recession change the way you do business?
Wiley: We didn’t really have any struggles with the downturn. We have always done good work at fair prices and have an awesome customer base, and that keeps us busy. Even through the downturn we showed steady growth. One of the keys to our success that my father instilled was that if we see a customer at the grocery store we want to be able walk up to them and say hi and not have to dodge down the produce aisle.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Wiley: I was a bag boy at Scolari’s. It was by far the best job I ever had; if I could make the kind of money I make now by being a bag boy I would have stayed and not moved into the trades.
NNBW: What do you enjoy most about the plumbing and HVAC professions?
Wiley: Being able to see people accomplish their goals if they are doing a big kitchen remodel or a custom home from the ground up.
NNBW: What do you find to be the most challenging aspects of owning a small business, and how do you overcome those issues?
Wiley: Trying to make sure that we keep the work coming in so the guys have work every day and paychecks every Friday. But everything is challenging, from the taxes and insurance we have to pay to vehicle wear and tear and maintenance.
NNBW: If you could do anything, what would be your dream job?
Wiley: Probably to be a fishing guide in a small mountain town.
NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to enter your profession?
Wiley: Be in it for the long haul. We are seeing a trend where the rate of people retiring versus those coming into it is not even close. If a guy gets into the trades and is really determined and focused to learn every aspect of the trade, in the long run the wages and demand will be higher than we’ve seen in the past. It will be real selective.
NNBW: How do you spend your time away from work?
Wiley: With family and friends, fishing, camping and barbecuing.
NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?
Wiley: A police officer and chase bad guys.
NNBW: If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Why or why not?
Wiley: No I wouldn’t. I still like what I do, and I’m still active, but I would probably slow it down a little bit. But I like being out there knocking on doors and shaking hands with the people in our community, and I don’t know if I would give that up right now.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working and living here?
Wiley: I was born and raised here and have lived here my entire life. I love the beauty — we do a lot of work up at the lake and in outlying communities like Winnemucca and Elko, and I get to get out there and see the state and all the beauty it has to offer.
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