Owner on a role: Customer service her priority

Robin Stevens, co-owner and operations manager of Peterson Plumbing, oversees an operation with 15 employees, including Roger Santistevan, left, and John Wellman. The Grand Junction company donates money to a cancer survivorship program in an annual fund-raiser in which participants take photos of its distinctive pink truck. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Robin Stevens, co-owner and operations manager of Peterson Plumbing, oversees an operation with 15 employees, including Roger Santistevan, left, and John Wellman. The Grand Junction company donates money to a cancer survivorship program in an annual fund-raiser in which participants take photos of its distinctive pink truck. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Robin Stevens wants her customers to not only have choices in the services and products they purchase, but also the information they need to make those decisions and the assurance that comes from good warranties.

It’s all part of what Stevens said is the commitment to customer service she’s brought to her ownership and management of a plumbing, heating, cooling and drain company in the Grand Valley. “It’s all about the customer,” she said.

Her efforts extend to her employees and the community as well, in providing benefits and training as well as contributing to philanthropic causes, Stevens said.

Stevens has served as co-owner and operations manager of Peterson Plumbing since 2014. She said she was eager to take on the role because of the changes she could make. “There were so many things I saw that we could do differently. It was an opportunity for me to have the freedom to make changes in the operation.”

“We’re a different company under new ownership,” she added.

Stevens said she brings to her role more than a decade of experience as an accounting manager as well as a lifetime of experience working in the service industry. Along with their other businesses, her parents owned hotels and a restaurant, and Stevens said she grew up cleaning rooms and washing dishes.

Launched in 1981 as a drain cleaning company with one employee, Peterson Plumbing has grown over the years into a full-service firm offering plumbing, heating, cooling and drain services. Fifteen employees and eight trucks service a region of Western Colorado that extends from Montrose and Delta to Parachute and Rifle.

Stevens said the biggest change she’s made at Peterson Plumbing is to offer customers a wider range of choices and products along with the information they need to make informed decisions.

Not every customer can afford or necessarily wants top-end products when a mid-level or more basic product might suffice, she said — whether that’s a hot water heater, toilet or faucet.

Customers are told the full price of repairs and installations before any project begins, she said.

Peterson Plumbing also warranties its services and products — in some cases offering warranties for twice as long as the manufacturer’s warranty and also covering the cost of labor, Steven said.

Peterson Plumbing also will install products customers purchase themselves. The company recently became a service provider for Home Depot, Stevens said.

As for employees, Stevens said Peterson Plumbing provides health and retirement benefits as well as ongoing training.

John Wellman —  a six-year employee who specializes in heating, ventilation and air conditioning work — said Stevens has created what he called a “family atmosphere.”

Stevens remains open to what employees suggest, Wellman said. “She’s pretty tough, but she listens to your opinion. She accepts what you have to say.”

Peterson Plumbing also offers an apprenticeship program for those who want to learn the trade and are willing to put in the work and time required to do so, Stevens said.

As for the community, Peterson Plumbing conducts an annual fund-raising campaign in which it donates money to the St. Mary’s Cancer Center Survivorship Program for every image posted on its Facebook page of its pink work truck.

Stevens serves on the board of Hope of the Grand Valley, an organization that offers assistance and counseling to low-income working families that don’t receive government assistance. Peterson Plumbing offers discounts for services in exchange for donations of nonperishable food items collected for Hope of the Grand Valley.

“We try to do as much as we can as a business,” Stevens said.

Stevens said she’s always evaluating the potential for offering additional lines of services and products. But for now, she said she wants to continue to build business on the changes she’s already made. “We really just want to continue to serve the community.”

For more information about Peterson Plumbing, call 812-4542 or visit www.petersonphc.com.

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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