A San Diego-based family trade business that’s become a local dynasty is transitioning into the capable managerial hands of three sisters.
Bill Howe brought his three daughters into the company, and each brings complementary skills.
Founded in 1980 as a one-man shop, the Bill Howe Family of Companies (Plumbing, Heating & Air, Restoration & Flood) has soared to a 217-employee business that did $35 million in sales last year.
The sisters, Haley Howe, Jaime Howe, and Jessica (Howe) Groat, all took jobs in other fields before starting in the call center and working their way up in the family business.
Each has been in the company now for more than a decade. They all interact with each other, as well as employees, a board of directors, and shareholders.
Looking back, do the sisters have any advice they would’ve given themselves when they got started in this field?
“I would have asked more questions and communicated more,” says Haley Howe, general manager of the Restoration and Flood division. “I like to ask ‘Why?’ Because you don't know why someone is saying what they're saying. A lot of the reasons why Jessica and I might not communicate well is, I don't understand her ‘why’ and she doesn't understand my ‘why.’”
Things make more sense when you understand someone’s “why,” Haley says.
Jessica (Howe) Groat is the CFO at Bill Howe Plumbing, Heating & Air, Restoration & Flood.
“As an accountant, I'm very risk-averse,” Jessica says. “Sometimes I wish I was more like Jamie and Haley in being a driver and taking more chances. And if you think an idea is good and you have the data to back it up, the sky is the limit. Go do it, don't be afraid to go do it. Have no fear.”
All three sisters would have had slightly different advice for themselves.
“Because I just go, go, go, go, for me, part of my tip would be accountability,” says Jaime Howe, plumbing operations manager for the family of companies. “I’d say, hold your teams accountable right from the start. Learn that accountability and how you communicate accountability in your leadership role.”
Jaime says that a young person growing into a management role definitely needs training.
“Training is super crucial for your growth,” she says. “And, developing respect on your teams in that leadership role is also crucial, so you can have success and your teams can grow and have the processes behind them. Accountability is something I wish I learned a lot longer ago. I’m still growing, still learning.”
Three diverse points of view. Three reasons the Bill Howe Family of Companies isn’t slowing down plans for continued expansion.
Haley Howe, Jaime Howe, and Jessica (Howe) Groat recently joined ServiceTitan’s Jackie Aubel as part of Season 5 of the “Toolbox for the Trades” podcast, which included the sisters’ thoughts on:
How one man on a bike at the beach started a company.
Deciding to work in a family business.
Homing in on your unique specialties in a career path.
Advice for contractors.
Developing an aggressive growth plan.