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Management • Operations • Business Tips • 44 minutes

A Leap of Faith: From Finance Pro to Plumbing CEO

August 9, 2022

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Episode Overview

The future looked bright for a young Rick Vazza. He was 28 years old, an up-and-comer in the banking industry, and being offered a promotion that could lead to a solid retirement strategy. 

In this case, however, the financial security felt like golden handcuffs. In short order, he left the company, went out on his own, and moved to San Diego.

Through consulting jobs and with his background in investing, Vazza began to recognize the value of engaging with the home services industry. One good investment led to a passion for the trades, which led to Vazza purchasing John Padilla Plumbing Inc.

With zero knowledge about plumbing, in 2021, Vazza took a leap of faith.

It wasn’t a blind leap. Vazza and former owner John Padilla developed a strong rapport. They recognized each had strengths.

Vazza wondered about the team: “Are they going to respect me or take me seriously when I don't know how to even turn a wrench?”

As it turned out, most saw that as a positive, he says.

“As I've gotten to know some of the guys more, they've expressed, ‘We don't need you to be putting in a water heater,’” Vazza says. “They need me to make sure that the business is profitable, marketing is successful, and we’re growing.”

Vazza is focused on creating the best employee experience--because he knows that will translate to the best customer experience.

It’s working. “Our employees take care of customers, and the reviews show it,” he says. 

The company also plans to keep the good reviews flowing with its own apprentice program.

“It’s a pipeline of talent,” Vazza says. “As we continue to grow, they’re going to step right into those spots.”  

Can a leap of faith work for everybody? Vazza would say it could work for anybody who believes in open lines of communication and involves leaders who work hard and let each other play to their strengths.

Rick Vazza recently joined ServiceTitan’s Jackie Aubel as part of Season 6 of the “Toolbox for the Trades” podcast, which included Vazza’s thoughts on:

  • Making a leap of faith into the trades from the world of finance.

  • Handling transition-of-ownership matters.

  • Why keeping accounting in-house is important for small businesses.

  • Business being like a boat: You have to plug holes and figure out how to go faster.

  • Implementing a flat-rate system.

To hear more tales from the trades, subscribe to Toolbox for the Trades on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, our website, or anywhere you get podcasts.

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About the Show

Toolbox for the Trades is a podcast where top service professionals share the tips, tricks, and tactics they use to succeed in their industry. Hosted by Jackie Aubel, this podcast is brought to you by ServiceTitan—the leading home and commercial field service software.

Episodes will feature stories and strategies to help contractors grow and scale their service business.

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