Plumbing runs in the family
Fortino Jimenez and Marco Cupello of Larry's Plumbing in Franklin Park work on a pump in the basement of a fire station in River Grove. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 14, 2013 6:39AM
FRANKLIN PARK – One Friday, about five or six years ago, Larry’s Plumbing got a call from a bank on North Avenue that was having a grand opening on Monday.
“They hired a safe company to bring the safe down to the main floor,” owner Ray Saylor said. “The safe company was supposed to remove the safe door. It didn’t. They brought the safe into the elevator and pressed the button. It dropped, did $70,000 worth of damage to the elevator and broke a bunch of pipes below.”
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was coming for the opening on Monday. The bank called Larry’s Plumbing.
“We fixed it,” Saylor said. “It was a whole weekend job.”
Larry’s Plumbing – which also does sewer and electrical work – is a 24/7 operation. Lawrence Fiorito, a Leyden Township highway commissioner, started it in the early 1960s. Saylor worked for him.
“I purchased it about 30 years ago,” Saylor said. “It was well established. It had one truck at the time.”
Today the company has six vehicles, three plumbers and four plumber apprentices.
Saylor comes from a family of plumbers. He learned mostly from his father and several uncles who were plumbers or sewer men.
The company handles residential, commercial and municipal jobs. His clients have included Sam’s Club, colleges, fire stations and occasionally the gas utility, like once in Oak Park in 2009.
“They had a rupture in the main gas line for two blocks,” Saylor recalled. “NICOR had come out to run a new gas line. They hit the water (main) of one woman’s house. We had to use a direction bore and shot a new line 60 feet into the house. We were there for a day-and-a-half for that project.”
Other calls are more amusing. Saylor once got called to a house with a clogged toilet.
“I pulled out a whole set of dentures from a toilet one time,” Saylor said. “I gave him the pliers (holding the dentures) and he went off to sink and washed them off and put them back in his mouth.”
He chuckled. “That always stuck in my mind.”
The plumbing business has changed over the years. For example, environmental regulations aimed at lowering water usage have led to toilets using 1.6 gallons per flush. Older toilets used twice as much water, or more.
Saylor said the water-saving toilets don’t always work as well -- but it keeps him working more.
“One point six gallons in the toilet is not enough water to carry the waste 160 feet to the street sewer,” Saylor said. “We’re finding out that low water usage is creating a lot of toilet paper blockage. It’s helped the industry.”
The recession of the last few years has impacted Larry’s plumbing. Saylor’s solution is elegant.
“What we’ve done to offset that is to provide service to a larger area,” Saylor said. “We’re traveling out to Barrington, Hoffman Estates, Lake Zurich, and so on.”
The company also offers a Residential Plumbers Club. Its sort of like a frequent flyers club for airlines. It is targeted toward customers with plumbing problems. Members pay a monthly fee of $7.49, which is applied toward any service call. Members also get discounts on repairs.