John Tyler has quiet a story to tell. On August 11, 1987, John started his employment with AFC. So, it is only fitting that the day he decided to retire falls on that exact date 30 years later.
We recently sat down with John for a little Q&A chat.
AFC: Why did you decide to become a plumber?
John: My father was a plumber, so I am a 2nd generation plumber. My mother was a teacher. I did 7 years as an apprentice learning from the same gentleman that employed my dad.
AFC: When you’re not doing plumbing, what do you do to keep busy?
John: I’ve lived in Readfield for over 60 years. I like to work on projects around the house and on the property. I have a 1940 Hudson that I work on as well.
AFC: You also volunteer, correct? (You can tell John doesn’t wasn’t to talk about himself.)
John: Yes. I have been a firefighter, a Mason and volunteered for the United Way. I’ve also given over 25 gallons of blood through the years. It’s about giving, caring and sharing with people, customers and coworkers.
AFC: That’s awesome! What do you like most about this industry?
John: Many things. It is being able to help a customer with a problem or a job and seeing them so happy when you’re done. It’s being part of something built and knowing that the construction will be there for years and you were part of it. It is about seeing new products or technology and learning to keep up with the changes.
AFC: You still enjoy learning?
John: Yes. I plan to continue learning. I also enjoy helping to educate the next generation of plumbers.
AFC: How so?
John: I have been involved on the college level Southern Maine Community College and at the high school level with the Capital Area Technical Center where I was placed on the advisory board to the instructors. I have been involved with trade schools and judging competitions. I was also on the Plumbers Examine Board and worked on Maine State plumbing codes. My peers call me the “code guy”.
AFC: What do you think you will miss most once you retire?
John: The daily contact with the coworkers and the trade. I went 17 years without a planned absence. Plus, I’ll miss helping the customers. When I started, there were 7 employees. Marc (our CEO) has really grown this company and I can’t wait to see where AFC goes next.
AFC: What advice do you have for the next generation of plumbers?
John: Keep your soft skills where they need to be. Balance family and work because you can’t do one without the other. Too much work, your family will suffer. Too much fun time, and your work will suffer.
AFC: What is the funniest story you can tell me?
John: Wow…there are quite a few. Most involve removing items that were not supposed to be there. Once I removed a deceased tropical fish when the client thought his toilet could be used as a disposal.
Another incident involved two squirrels. This happened two weeks apart in the same neighborhood. Each time the squirrel had climbed down the 4-inch vent pipe and wreaked havoc on the plumbing system. I didn’t discover the squirrels until I removed some pipes. It was as if these two squirrels were related and had the same idea. Very strange, and it hasn’t happened since. Sometimes Mother Nature plays into plumbing.
Here’s a funny story. One time, I was pulled a hand full of toy soldiers from a plugged-up toilet. Not too unusual, but it was odd as there were no small children in the house, just young teens. Apparently, they had them set up on the toilet seat and were shooting them in with a water gun, then flushing them. Later I found out that the teens videotaped a reenactment of the whole scenario, including one playing me doing my work. I saw the video. It was pretty funny.
AFC: (smiling) That story was definitely better than the fish story.