Phc News 2015 Top Commercial Project: Fite Plumbing
Continued growth. Since 1989, that is what Fite Plumbing, headquartered in Plainfield, Ind., has been striving for.
This year that goal is being carried out through a company expansion. The company will expand its service department locations in Indianapolis and the Bloomington areas. Fite Plumbing has seen an increase in service calls to Bloomington.
“We are putting a significant amount of money into the expansion and marketing of it,” explained Bill Fite, president of Fite Plumbing. “We’ve already incorporated a couple of new vehicles.”
Fite continued, “Our biggest focus for the year is our expansion in the latter part of 2015 or beginning of 2016. Expanding into Bloomington as a full time business branch of our service division, then our continued growth in Indianapolis will help us in making sure that we can meet all needs that arrive.”
Fite’s grandfather was a plumber from the late 1930s until the late 1970s. Fite followed in his grandfather’s footsteps, however, after high school he utilized his plumbing training to pay for college. Eventually, Fite decided plumbing was best as a full-time pursuit for himself. After working at a large plumbing company for several years, he decided to start his own business. In 1989, Fite’s company was incorporated, and as he discovered his niche in the industry he began doing a combination of service, residential, and commercial work. As time passed, Fite Plumbing became known for commercial work.
Today, Fite Plumbing is a multi-million dollar company. The company has 30-plus employees including several field-licensed plumbers, service technicians, and office personnel of about six team members including service managers, general managers, marketing managers, and production managers. The business is run from the main storefront in Plainfield, Ind., but there is also space utilized at Fite’s very first headquarters in Monrovia, Ind. Fite Plumbing moved from Monrovia in 2014 in order to better market to the local community and walk-ins.
Light commercial, such as restaurants and grocery stores, has remained the company’s bread-and-butter. Fite explained that because their work has been in that market, they were able to thrive when others were facing tough economic times.
“We have not slowed down for the last 10 years. We’ve seen an increase every year,” Fite noted. “One of the areas that has continued to grow and meet expectations is renovation in light commercial. In every community there are more restaurants popping up. And it just so happened that a third of our business is restaurant-related.”
Fite went on to explain that many restaurant chains have deadlines on renovations for their franchises. Popular food spots including McDonald’s, Arby’s and Taco Bell have to update or remodel locations every five years or so, Fite said.
Phc News is spotlighting the company’s recent renovation: an ALDI grocery store in Indianapolis, Ind.
Fite Plumbing has worked on several ALDIs over the years. The renovation on the location at East Washington Street took place in the fall of 2014. At this location, the restrooms were located at the front of the store and the main water came in the back of the store, near the storage area. There was a 250-foot water line running from point A at the front of the store to point B at the back.
While assessing the location, Fite Plumbing discovered that the pressure feeding the building was very low. There was an existing, old water service from the Indianapolis Water Company and the line pressure was about 40 psi. Yet, the restroom stools and urinals that the store used were all flush valve devices that required significant water pressure in order for them to operate correctly. As it turned out, the facility did not have enough water pressure to flush the stools and urinals.
Fite Plumbing contacted the water company and told them about the lack of water pressure at the location. Ultimately, Fite Plumbing decided that a constant pressure pump from Franklin Electric, called the Little Giant Inline CP, was the solution.
From the initial call of Fite Plumbing investigating the grocery store’s problem to finding the solution and installing the product was only around 72 hours. The company moved fast having the pump sent “expedited mail,” to arrive within 24 hours. Once the pump arrived it took the Fite Plumbing team of two about two hours for the installation.
“Really the only challenge that we had was electrical,” Fite explained. “For warranty reasons this was out of our realm of work. We had to get an electrical contractor who did the initial installation of the remodel to come back and run the power to the pump.”
With the Little Giant Inline CP tied into the water system, pressure in the restrooms began maintaining at 65 psi at all times.
Fite said the key to the Little Giant Inline CP installation was accessibility.
“You want to make sure that you install it in an accessible location. The positive thing about the Little Giant Inline CP is that is does not take a very large footprint,” he noted.
The engineers involved with the ALDI project did initially recommend a piping device booster system. When Fite Plumbing called for an estimate they discovered the pricing was twice the price of the Little Giant Inline CP. They also learned that it would be at least seven to 10 days to get the piping device booster product to the jobsite. After reviewing the Little Giant literature and specifications, the engineers had no problem confirming and approving it for the installation.
“We have installed approximately eight Little Giant Inline CPs in the last six months, so we are very pleased with it,” Fite explained. “Being in the plumbing industry and running the business, the last thing I want is a call back or a bad call about the look of a product or the way something is operating. Thus far, we have had no call-backs for the Little Giant Inline CP. We see this as a major plus.”