We had the good fortune of connecting with Ruben Patino and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ruben, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Well, 2009 was definitely a hard year for the economy in denver, the shop I used to work for had a few major layoffs and eventually I ended up jobless, little after that my wife at the time relapsed and became a full on criminal/drug addict and decided to abandon my 3 year old daughter and me, desperately looking to make ends meet I decided to literally walk door to door for a few blocks and tell people in my neighborhood that I was ready to work doing what I know, Plumbing! So not much thought there really, just scared and anxious to be able to provide for my little girl. After a few calls I ended up meeting a computer kind of guy with a busted sewer, he was also pretty broke and we decided to exchange his expertise for mine, all the sudden I was flooded with calls since he put my business online, I had to tell him to please undo everything he had done because I couldn’t keep up! He asked me if I will train him to be a plumber so he can have a job, he still is with my shop and I am very happy with him, almost 10 years now. We take pride on our work and basically what I did is, I took pricing from different shops, high rates and low rates and put my prices in the middle to be able to help the community, we have done a lot of work for low income homes as well as some high end plumbing, but we enjoy helping for sure whenever we can. Risks are everywhere in this business, not only due to the nature of the work itself but more so from the business standpoint, I feel between insurance and taxes small business owners are set to fail from having an absurd amount of taxes to pay and crazy insurance premiums which ends up having you raise prices in order to first provide a fair price and second to be able to pay employees a decent wage. As a single father of a 14 year old now I think it was important for my daughter to witness how hard it can be to make a living, appreciate the things you have and value your well being, “hard work pays off” If something I embedded in her brain, be kind to others and most importantly, don’t get attach to meaningless things, they come and go I believe the success of my small and very humble shop was that, being humble, remembering that it is a gift to have a day in this world and go out with the idea of helping others, Plumbing doesn’t care what day it is, what race you are, where you live, if the plumbing is going to break it will no matter what, having a good attitude and believing in yourself will definitely determine success on any business, being fair and treating people how you would like to be treated is key For me keep going is the only option, I’m a 40 year old that did not spend much time learning anything that I could apply this day in order to make a living, grew up playing drums, and shows, touring throughout different countries and eventually learned a trade, other than that I don’t think I can help with anything else I definitely keep a balance now between work and family, when I first started of course was hard to focus on other things besides work but I quickly learned that the whole point of being a small business owner, is to have that balance, to be able to put things aside and enjoy your hard work wether is traveling, family, partying, whatever makes you happy, but definitely splitting the two, Monday’s come quick and they suck so might as well enjoy the time off I’m truly happy when I see my daughter succeed, when I know she’s happy, when I play my drums, those are truthful awesome feelings for me, obviously I enjoy seeing others being happy as well and successful but me personally, is all about my daughter and my drums As a drummer I feel I can be creative and artistic, I apply that to my work everyday, I transform peoples bathrooms and kitchens in something they could only dream of or something most plumbers wouldn’t really care for, that is what makes my job enjoyable I’m not sure how to define success, I think each individual person might have a different opinion and to me they’re all valid, I personally think, once you’re in a place where you are free from daily financial stress, working decent hours, happy with your mental and physical health (actually healthy not just happy) and are a Positive influence and can inspire others, its safe To say, you somehow have succeeded in a way but truly it will have to be someone else to judge that
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Well it was hard, I belonged to a local union where I did all my training with high level plumbers and engineers and I was lucky to be placed with a shop that built some of the most amazing hospitals, power plants, convention centers, etc, big commercial type construction, I learned not only plumbing. I worked 8 hours Monday through Friday and went to Plumbing school in the afternoons for 5 years to learn the trade, I also did my own side jobs in the evenings to learn what I wasn’t learning in school or the big jobs, pretty much I was texting myself. School was tough, I was the only immigrant in my class, all white kids, most of them related to other plumbers that had gone through the program so it was like a little club into I was the odd ball but I didn’t care, that didn’t stopped me, I kept at it and eventually got licensed and turned out, I run the fabrication shop for what at the time was the second largest shop in the state and I always had a good work ethic I would say what sets me apart from other shops is the fact that even though I could have 6 more plumbers, or more, I kept my shop small, that gives me the chance to meet most of my clients, I become friends with my clients, I listen and empathize with them and find ways to help, the check is the last thing I ask for, I want them to be excited and stoked about the plumbing in their homes, which is the biggest investment in their life’s, so that being said, my clients really appreciate that Something I learned is, always put it on writing! Don’t give up! And mostly always believe in yourself, if you don’t, there’s no point at all
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We’ll definitely the mountains, we can go nicking, fishing, depending on the time of year maybe a snowmobile trip, denver has amazing food and bars, I love a few speakeasy’s near my house and the restaurants go with what at the time sounds good to eat, there’s everything for everyone, colorado has amazing outdoor stuff to do, bike trails, museums, you can catch anything from a punk show in a world famous dive bar as well as a rad jazz show somewhere downtown for a more chill evening
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Well my daughter kamber saved my life after a crazy divorce, she is the only reason why I decided to get out there and work my butt off, because there is no fairy carrying checks in a bag going home to home to give you some, she inspired me and she made me realize we are here by chance and we need to take advantage of every second in life, no need to be unhappy, if you are, make changes wether they might suck or not, get away from people that brings you down or are a negative influence or just plain out want you to be as miserable in life as they are (my second ex-wife) and enjoy life, it’s a wonderful gift and we are lucky to be here
Facebook: Flow rite plumbing
Other: Man I can’t remember LinkedIn but we have one, I always consider Yelp to be the reason some small businesses go under we do not use it and never will as long as I own the shop