Mary Jean Anderson
How did a woman get into the plumbing business 35 years ago? My background is nursing. My then-husband was in the commercial plumbing business, having difficulties with management issues. I was helping him, and as I became more involved, I took over running the business.
Do you have other locations? Not now. While I was a partner with my husband, we had a business in Arizona, which I ran from 1996 to 2001. At the time it was producing $5.3 million in revenue. Eventually I bought my husband out.
I was greeted at Anderson Plumbing with “How can I make you smile today?” How did that come about? It comes from my nursing background and wanting to make things better. When people call us, they are in distress, and we want to make them feel good. I learned through a survey that 78 percent of all women do not know how to turn off their water. If they call us, they want help. We want them to know that we are here to help them.
Of your 108 employees in San Diego, how many are women? In addition to my daughter, we have several women in sales and service as well as two female technicians in heating and air. There are several managers in normally male-dominated positions. I would hire more if we could find them.
Did you ever think of going back to nursing? No, since I came into the plumbing business, I have found lots of people to help.
How has solar energy impacted your business? We are selling systems that are compatible with solar in heating as well. Anderson is the first green plumber in San Diego.
What do you do to mentor others? I believe that doing things right is the only way to do things. I work diligently with my staff to make every customer a priority and every day a new opportunity to make a positive impact. I work to recruit men and women into the industry because it is a very good industry.
To what do you attribute your 35 years of success in the business? We strive to be the most professional, fairly priced, and have the people well-trained to serve our customers. We have very high standards, and each employee receives extensive training before he or she is assigned to go on a call. There is a stereotype of a plumber, and our employees are way above that old-fashioned image of the butt-crack plumbers. We are leading the charge in changing the industry.
You are very visible in the community. What do you do to give back? Oh, there are so many community activities that we participate in, such as the Susan G. Komen walk. We always have a team. Every quarter we do “a random act of plumbing and air.” We select a project from someone in need, and our employees do the work. We work with Rebuild Together and Just in Time. Our employees love to work on community projects. I also serve on the Better Business Bureau board.
What are your goals for the future? To be the best service provider out there. I want to be able to give back to the community, which has been good to me. We are going into our busy season, and we have to prioritize our service—first to the elderly, new moms, and the chronically ill, as well as our existing customers.
What would you like for people to know about you? I love my work. My parents instilled a strong work ethic in me, and I have always loved working.