The Service Guy
Swanzey, New Hampshire
When Brandon Goodell graduated in 2000 from Fall Mountain Regional High School in Langdon, he was already working part-time for Cota and Cota, a heating, cooling and plumbing company based out of Bellows Falls, Vermont. After graduation, he joined the military, but due to asthma, his stint was cut short. He returned to the area and went back to work with Cota and Cota, becoming a licensed plumber in 2004.
Tell us about your experience before starting your own business.
Working at Cota and Cota was good for me. They had a seven-person plumbing team, and I worked with all seven, learning all the different aspects of the business. A lot of people don’t get that experience. They might learn from their dad or their uncle. During this time, I also went to the Howard Dean Education Center in Springfield, two nights a week, to become a licensed plumber. After that, I had to spend a year as a journeyman to become a master plumber. It’s a dying breed because not a lot of kids want to go through with that.
How did you find your way down to the Keene area?
It was pretty random. I was working at Cota and Cota when I met someone from Lawrence Brothers. I wasn’t looking for a job, but they called me up, met with me. They needed somebody right away, and I’ve always liked Keene, so I figured I’d give it a shot. At Lawrence, you had to do both plumbing and heating. That’s where I began to focus on the oil heating aspect and working on furnaces. There was a lot of learning on the job, which is really the best way to learn. After Lawrence Brothers, I went to work for Davis Oil Company, which focuses on heating.
Is this when you began to branch out on your own?
I started my business, The Service Guy, as a part-time thing, jumping back and forth between working for myself and for Davis Oil. They gave me all their plumbing customers, and at the time, I was sort of their plumbing division. I was also getting referrals from Cota and Cota and Lawrence Brothers. It got to the point where I was overworking myself, working a lot after normal hours. About four years ago, I figured it was a good time to make the leap into my own full-time business. It worked out well because I already had a client base.
How has your business changed over the past four years?
As of right now, I have three guys working with me, and I have two vans on the road. We are really busy. We do water softeners, propane installation and heating, appliances as well as oil burner services and cleaning and plumbing. We are also installing mini-split heating and cooling systems, which are the new fad that everybody loves, and for good reason. Right now, we are booked through February. It’s been absolutely crazy. From day one of starting my business, I haven’t been bored.
Are you thinking about expanding your services or adding new crew members?
We offer so much, and I can only keep up with what we have right now. Every time I add new people, it increases our workload. We don’t do electrical work, but I refer customers to Ben Prescott of Peak Power Solutions and Josh Tenney at Tenney Electrical. We all went out and got vans at about the same time and have all been very busy. Unfortunately, I am turning down more work because I can’t get to all the jobs. You can’t just go out and buy a fleet of vans or find enough good workers right now.
Are you scheduling repair work just for homeowners?
We’re also getting work from carpenters, some doing bath remodels. And we’ve been doing the plumbing for a lot of prefab houses. It’s not just in Keene. It’s everywhere. We go all over New Hampshire. Everybody in this business is thriving, especially over the last three or four years. Apparently, lots of people want to live in the woods.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming a plumber, an electrician or a handyperson?
It’s not glamorous, but it pays the bills. It’s a really good way to provide for a family and is better than living from paycheck to paycheck. For somebody who is hands-on and not afraid of working, it’s a good living. There’s something new every day. It doesn’t get boring, and I’m always in demand.