Jake Cummings is a native of Tucson, Arizona. He was born in Tucson and was raised in Marana with his two younger sisters. He attended elementary, junior high, and high school in Marana and played football for the team. He was a good player and considered going on to college and possibly playing there and getting a degree. However, fate and genetics stepped in and made his decision a little more predictable.
Born and raised into a family of plumbers, Jake Cummings’ father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all plumbers, working for the family business: Cummings Plumbing Heating and Cooling. Given this history, it was natural for Jake to get into the business as well. He has always felt more comfortable with physical work and he enjoys interacting and working with people to help them solve problems. The chance to learn the business from his father from the ground up, as he learned it from Jake’s grandfather, was truly a unique opportunity.
Today, Jake Cummings has learned 99% of the jobs and work that Cummings Plumbing does and went from the field after a few years into job estimates and sales. In the last 24 months, Jake has actually matched and surpassed his father in sales.
Jake’s father Kevin has quite a few health problems from an accident the family was involved in years ago, so he accelerated the learning and responsibility curve for Jake Cummings to step in and learn how to run the company. Jake is now the president of Cummings Plumbing Heating & Cooling and has started buying out his father’s interests over the last few years.
Where did the idea for Cummings Plumbing come from?
Most people want to feel that they are “needed” or useful. Plumbing is an industry that will always be essential to everyone, it is one of the “perks” of civilization.
Cummings Plumbing is a family business, owned and run by family members over six generations; our name is on the sign and the trucks. We don’t always get to pick the time when we will be ready; oftentimes the decision is made earlier than you planned. I think it was my turn to take the helm and “steer the ship”!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I personally enjoy the early morning start of the day, visiting with the workers, techs, managers, and the administration staff. I like to see where everyone is going, jobs that are “booked”, checklists on jobs already in progress, appointments for estimates, sales calls I will be going on… it is exciting. Getting out and driving all around!
How do you bring ideas to life?
I think it’s very important to see through projects and ideas from start to finish, whether they are successful or not. So, if I have an idea, like a new product or service offering, I will discuss it with my team and we will strategize an approach. If it seems plausible, we will do some test runs of the idea before doing a full launch.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Technology! In so many areas, it has improved our business and how we do business. The basic plumbing job has been made easier by advancements in materials, procedures, components that are available, and machinery, like Permaliner, that does less destructive and amazing results in a quicker timeframe! We have implemented more advanced computer technology to improve our response times, our service calls, our follow-up calls, and accounting and tracking of our equipment and workers. We are a lot more efficient and productive utilizing the technology that is available.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I develop and stick to a routine. I believe having a regular routine and schedule is vital to not only productivity, but success.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Everything looks easy and simple when you are on the outside looking in! However, when you are in the middle of a day, a job, a situation or crisis, and decisions have to be made; they are not as easy as you think they will be! In retrospect, I think talking less and listening more, especially at my age and for anyone that is still learning the details of the job they are in, is best served by paying more attention and considering other more experienced people’s suggestions.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You are only as good as your team. I think that many people wouldn’t agree with me and would believe that as entrepreneurs or business owners that they have all the answers. But, it’s the people that you surround yourself with that make you successful and a strong leader.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Routine! Show up every day. Have both personal and work goals to be accomplished. Do the best you can do on every job you start and finish. Try and have a “sense of humor” and a positive attitude, otherwise the world can “grind you down.” Mostly, find and enjoy the positives in your profession and your work.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I have mentioned before, technology has made a very strong difference. Also, increased education and training of the employees and helping them to understand the whole process and their contributions are important. Advertising is a mainstay of our business. If people don’t know who you are or what you do, they won’t be calling you!
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Fortunately for me, I have been learning all the other aspects of running the company up until the last year or more, so I have not been confronted with any failures as of yet. However, I am surrounded by very good people and staff, with lots of experiences and challenges and success of their own. If you don’t learn from other people’s failures or challenges in life and business and let your ego get in the way, then you might learn the “hard way.”
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
That’s a tough one, as we do have competitors, and we like to stay a step ahead at all times. However, plumbing has been around for a long time, water is getting harder and more expensive to come by, and we all require it to live. Possibly a business that finds or increases the availability of fresh water or its dispersal might be worth undertaking.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Personally, I spent money improving my ATV, which makes it more efficient and go faster. I like to go fast!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We implemented Service Titan about three and a half years ago and converted a large majority of our procedures and practices to elements of that program. We are now more efficient and have better time management and productivity in our operation. We will be expanding that program and other utility functions in other areas to further increase our operations. We also implemented new computer hardware, phones, and other tech tools that integrate with that system. There are specific “trade secrets” in how we use it that we cannot disclose. We have also implemented and expanded our website in conjunction with our advertising campaigns on radio and television.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” This is one of my father’s favorite books and has helped him throughout his life. We have also implemented and hired people from the Dale Carnegie seminars to come and train our administrative staff, tech workers, and plumbers/workers to help them with customer interactions. People need to learn how get along better with each other if they want to have any success, in my opinion.
What is your favorite quote?
This is a biblical one, but it works well for my family. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
• Live everyday like it is your last.
• Treat your family, including your extended family (employees and customers), with respect and tolerance.
• We are in the service industry; we make the world a better, cleaner, safer, and healthier place to live.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.