In a service sector with plenty of local options, Lu Villareal knows what makes his business stand out and keeps his days booked up.
“What sets us apart is only the quality of the products we use,” said Villareal.
Villareal owns LAV Plumbing at 2941 N. Columbia St., Milledgeville. A native of California, Villareal spent his childhood helping his father’s landscaping before learning the basics of plumbing as a young adult. Villareal spent the first part of his career learning his trade on the San Francisco Bay before doing plumbing in high-end resorts and casinos. He also has extensive experience installing new builds.
“I mainly carried out new buildings and conversions,” said Villareal. “That’s what I learned first, so I learned all the codes and how to do certain piping in a certain way.”
Learning how to trade on the West Coast gave Villareal an overall head start by allowing him to learn new, green concepts as they hit the market, skills he could eventually bring with him to Georgia.
“We have been installing instant water heaters since 2000,” said Villareal, citing a notable example. “We installed it from the start.”
Villareal and his family moved to Milledgeville in 2009. Since his certifications from California did not immediately transfer to Georgia, he worked in the state for two years before receiving a license in the fall of 2011. Shortly afterwards, LAV Plumbing was born and has always been strong.
LAV Plumbing offers all aspects of plumbing services for residential and commercial properties, including new construction, renovation, installation of water heaters, special heating, cleaning of drains and working with water, gas and sewer pipes. Villareal and its crew work on construction sites every day and also take care of service calls to customers throughout the region.
The crew is organized by office staff Brittney Johnson and Villareal’s wife Kristin.
“I equate that with running a doctor’s office. He fixes the problems and someone else does the paperwork, ”said Kristin of the division of labor.
Villareal and his team work long days, usually starting at 7:30 a.m. and working until dark. He admits that putting everyone on the busy schedule can be stressful, but he is motivated to care for his family, meet his clients’ needs, and have the satisfaction of a job well done.
“I’m more concerned about the finished product than just getting it finished,” said Villareal.
“He’s proud to step back and look at the system he just installed before closing the walls,” added Kristin.
Kristin describes her husband as being detail-oriented in his work, right down to the marking of the pipes that lead into the walls of a new building.
“He’s so meticulous,” said Kristin.
She added that her husband is known to stand up for his customers by discussing product selections with contractors to ensure that the best application is always used for the situation at hand.
LAV Plumbing is working on several new builds in the Lake Oconee area while serving a full spectrum of service needs for residential customers in Milledgeville. One product that has become increasingly popular in recent years is the instantaneous water heaters, which he got to know at the beginning of his career in California. Newer instant water heaters are now equipped with circulation pumps, which ensure that when the customer turns on the tap, not only continuously has hot water, but also hot water immediately. According to Villareal, the systems now even have intelligent technology with which the daily habits of the user can be remembered and hot water can wait for peak consumption times every day.
Kristin added that while such systems can be an out-of-the-box investment, they will save the customer money in the long run.
“You don’t want to waste anything in markets like Lake Oconee, where water is very expensive [water]”Kristin said.” The savings in a year with a circulation pump make up for it when you are in a market where water is expensive. “
Villareal continues to keep an eye on the cutting edge technology in its home state, including new trends in specialty and radiant heating systems and the use of solar energy to heat water. In this way, he can make this know-how available to LAV Plumbing’s customers as soon as demand increases.
Villareal owes its success with LAV Plumbing to its prioritization of using quality parts to get the job done. He trains his customers so that they understand the cost benefits of investing in high quality parts and replacement parts when that is the most cost effective measure.
“In the long run, a customer who chooses us will end up with [fewer] Problems with the same product, ”said Villareal.