For nearly half a century, Barron has been a local leader in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. And among the company’s more recent expansions in service offerings, its plumbing division has seen substantial growth.
Brad Barron, the company’s chief operating officer, describes Barron’s relationship with plumbing as an on-again, off-again one during its first four-and-a-half decades of existence. But in the last three years, Barron has greatly developed its plumbing expertise as a natural extension of being a whole-home performance contractor.
“We look at plumbing as the third pillar of our mechanical, electrical, and plumbing services,” says Brad. “One of the reasons that we really leaned into plumbing, quite simply, was because our customers were asking for it. And when customers ask, that’s definitely something that we should be listening to.”
Just two-and-a-half years ago, Barron hired Jordan F.—now the company’s plumbing service and operations manager—as their first plumbing superintendent, with the intention of training and growing their plumbing team. From that initial hiring, the plumbing division has expanded to dozens of team members running ten plumbing trucks and counting, all responding to the needs of their customer base in Whatcom and Skagit Counties.
“It’s been a really exciting journey,” Brad says. “We’ve gone from primarily doing water heaters to full-service plumbing, which includes remodels, new construction, and commercial services as well.”
Although Barron proudly serves customers across Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan and Snohomish Counties, their plumbing services—including 24/7 emergency services—are currently limited to Whatcom and Skagit. But they’re excited for this to change as they grow.
With fully licensed plumbers on both the residential and commercial sides, Barron’s team members can tackle pretty much any plumbing project. Several team members recently finished an extensive residential project in the Fairhaven area, Brad says, where the owner contracted them for a down-to-the-studs remodel. Barron installed all plumbing, drainage, and ventilation for the home’s plumbing fixtures.
Becoming a licensed plumber in the state of Washington is more extensive than some might think, says Brad. The process requires 6,000 documented hours, spread across three years. A PL-01 license is needed for commercial work, while a PL-02 license is necessary for residential work.
“We’re always looking for what the state would consider a journey-level or licensed plumber,” he says, adding that the company is always looking for apprentices, as well. For every journey-level candidate running their own plumbing truck, Barron tries to ensure a plumbing apprentice is alongside, learning the ropes.
Apprentices are paid well, Brad says, always starting above $15 an hour. Other apprentices, depending on their experience levels, can make around $25 an hour.
Barron’s in-house Technician School also helps plumbers in training. Started just a couple years ago, the school serves two purposes: to supplement traditional on-the-job training with lab work, and to build new technicians through a more formal, paid school program that includes classroom learning, assessments, and lab work.
This schooling, in conjunction with apprenticeships that follow, helps ensure Barron technicians are completely equipped to handle the full scope of services customers require. This kind of work is also well-compensated—even without a college degree—impressing upon the huge potential for success with a career in the trades.
“We have plumbers at our company who earn well above six figures, based on their tenure and their performance,” Brad says. “It’s an exciting career opportunity. I think a lot of people don’t think about that when they think about the trades.”
The company’s website features a careers page where current job listings can be found. In addition to training team members from the ground up, Barron is also expanding at the leadership level. The company recently added Blake T. as director of service, and Rob T. as director of operations.
“We’re growing at every facet of the company,” Brad says, “from the apprentice level all the way up to the directorship level.”
It’s proof that, top to bottom, Barron is committed to both its own success and the success of every one of its employees and customers.