Tom and Anne Kreutzer started Woodbridge Plumbing, Inc. in February, 1973, the same month that their first child, David, was born. Forced to make a decision of whether or not to start in business at that time by the impending deadline of a yellow page ad, they figured that if things didn’t work out they could both just go back to working for someone else. Tom was the only employee for three years, and customers would comment that he was “the same nice young man who came out last time.” Tom wouldn’t bother to mention that he was the only nice young man in the company. Despite the slow start when the ringing phone might catch him with his feet up on the desk, business very gradually picked up, and three years later he hired their first employee, David McCullen, who retired in November, 2006 after 29 years with the company.
To try to get customers, Tom passed out business cards to stores, restaurants and beauty shops. Enough owners or managers asked him if he could do some work right then and there, that he eventually built up a strong clientele. Much has changed from those days when Tom worked out of the trunk of a green Dodge Dart (because the truck he had ordered didn’t come in for months), but much has remained the same. Their first copier was by 3-M, and it used two light bulbs to heat the special pink paper topped by a white sheet that was fed through a machine. Those heated copies did not have a very long shelf-life, fading within months. When fax machines came along, they bought one, but thought of it as more of a toy and couldn’t really imagine that it would get much use. There were no cell phones then, so they had a cumbersome base station and hand-held radios that were the size of shoe boxes to communicate with the men in the field. Early efforts at advertising were primitive hand-drawings by Anne – who could afford a graphic artist at that stage of a start-up business?
Although none of the boys currently live in this area, all four of their sons, David, Chris, Colin and Andy, had worked at Woodbridge Plumbing, Inc. during high school and college vacations. Currently Chris holds a North Carolina Plumbing Contractor’s license and operates his own plumbing business, Carrboro Plumbing (919-265-4026) serving the Carrboro/Chapel Hill area. It gives Tom and Anne great pleasure to see at least one son continuing in this very old and very necessary profession!
Woodbridge Plumbing, Inc. grew from doing just residential and commercial service calls to including a new construction department which bids and does the plumbing and gas fitting for multi-million dollar commercial projects.
Phase III of Potomac Mills Mall, Smoketown Plaza, Wal-Marts, Potomac Yards base buildings, Nordstrom’s at Dulles Town Center, and many local and Northern Virginia restaurants and grocery stores are just some of the jobs the company has done.
For many years, Woodbridge Plumbing, Inc has been staffed at 20 employees, which the owners feel is a great number, as they are large enough to take care of the work they get, but not so large that they could lose control of the quality of the work being done in their name. Many of the employees have been with the company over ten years, and several over twenty. They are proud of their low turnover rate, which they attribute to treating their employees with respect, to educating them so they can further their knowledge in this field, to paying them a decent wage with bonuses during the year, and for being there to help them through personal situations that come along.
Before they sold Woodbridge Plumbing, Inc in the Fall of 2006, the Kreutzers commented, “Over the years we have often asked ourselves if we would go into business again – with the long hours, the 24/7 involvement, the 3 AM emergency calls or the disrupted Thanksgiving dinners for Tom in the early years, Anne doing payroll in the hospital after the birth of yet another son, or finishing up bookkeeping at midnight after homework, baths and bedtime stories have been finished – and the answer has always come back a resounding yes! We have loved going to work every morning, thoroughly enjoyed the thousands of people we have met either in person or over the phone, and been proud of the way we have treated our customers and the work we have done in our community. As we hand over the reins of Woodbridge Plumbing, Inc. to two long-time employees, Willie Johnson and Tommy Wood, we feel great satisfaction in having created and sustained a business that has fed many families, taken care of tens of thousands of plumbing repairs, supported numerous groups in our community and enjoyed it all the while.” While Tom will move on to new pursuits, Anne continues to work for the new owners, as she loves her job and is not ready to retire.
Willie and Tommy will continue Woodbridge Plumbing’s mission of providing top-quality plumbing and excellent customer service, as they have already been a long-time integral part of our decades-long tradition.