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    Sean Kavanaugh's Plumbing And Mechanical Contractor Insights Part 2

    Posted by Randal DeHart on Fri, Nov 14, 2014

    Today's Guest Article Is Part Two Of Sean Kavanaugh's Podcast Interview On Contractors Success M.A.P.

    The Following Is An Outline From Sean Kavanaugh's Guest Appearance On The Contractors Success M.A.P. Podcast which you can listen to below. It is on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Pocket Casts and all popular podcast directories.

    Sean Kavanaugh The Plumbing Info

    Editors Note: In case you missed Part One you can click on this link to hear it. The text below is a recap of the entire interview.


    Hey Randal thanks so much for having me on the show. I really appreciate it.

    I guess before we dig in I should probably give a bit of background on myself. My name is Sean Kavanaugh and I've been in the plumbing business in the Chicagoland area in some capacity for 22 years.

    Right out of college I began working for my father at Litvin Plumbing where he was the president.

    Litvin was a fairly famous hi-rise contractor and one of the first high rise contractors in Chicago doing the plumbing work for the John Hancock Building, Water Tower Place, Marina Towers (Think Bullet with Steve McQueen) and many others.

    I was hired to help out in accounting but ended up being the purchasing agent at 22 years old for a company with 75 employees doing about 18 to 25 million in annual revenue.

    It was sink or swim because I knew very little about actual plumbing even though my dad had been in it for my whole life.

    It was there that I learned a ton about buying commodities like copper, cast iron and steel, job staging, scheduling truck loads of cast iron, copper, steel and plumbing fixtures not only for the job but to prefab what we could in our shop.

    (I learned how frustrating and expensive it could be when a scheduled delivery never showed up to a job. 1 foreman, 1 journeyman and 5 apprentices standing around waiting for a truckload of bathtubs that never shows up?) Believe me a couple major fixture manufacturers hated me for the butt chewing and back-charges I gave them for not showing up with 1100 tubs.)

    In 1998 my father and I founded Kavanaugh Plumbing. We did tenant improvements, commercial, industrial and multiunit residential rehab and commercial and industrial service work.

    My goal was to be the biggest plumbing contractor in Chicago. Not because I had a plan but because I thought we were really good at putting in plumbing and people liked us.

    Three Quarters of a Business Life

    • For the first five years it work real well we made a lot of money, then we grew. Then I had to take out a line of credit because we were doing bigger work and we weren't being paid in a timely manner.

    • The next five years were stressful but OK. Money became our master, we did some big work with a ton of change orders and were paid barely 50% of them so winners became losers

    • The next five years were a complete mess. I told my wife I put boxing gloves on every Monday to start pounding customers for cash to do payroll on Wednesday. We had no one to tell us to stop. No one to tell us how to get out of the madness so we worked harder and longer for shear pride. 

    • A very big job for us didn't pay us for 7 months and we called it quits.

    Words of Wisdom From Sean Kavanaugh

    • Don't ever do a job you can't pay for yourself. I know there is a need for banks and business loans but you need a really good accounting partner to let you know if its right. I never had that innate feeling of when that should be. I just did it because it's what plumbing contractors did at least the ones that I knew

    • If you can't pay the Employment taxes it's probably a real good time to think about shutting it down before it gets out of hand.

    • Don't be afraid to ask for your money. You provided a service you deserve to get paid on time within terms.

    • Never and I mean never run your business to run your home. I see so many "contractors" price their work so they can make their car payment or their mortgage and insurance. Price your work so the business works. Your house will run like clockwork if the business is running well.

    • Never let an employee be disruptive to your firm just because they are good at a certain task. If you aren't all moving in the right direction it will hold you back eventually. 

    Four years ago I developed a website called ThePlumbingInfo.com with a web developer. I was an English major in college so I thought I could write. So I set out to build an authority website on plumbing for the consumer and professional.

    At first it was a great distraction from the actual plumbing business. Cathartic as it grew it became a source of income and the company that developed the site Todays Growth Consultant hired me full time to manage content on 235 authority websites.

    We are kind of hybrid web development, marketing company and our other company Income Store buys income generating websites for individuals, companies or private equity firms and by the way that’s a heck of a product.

    I guess you can say I'm an SEO guy but I hate the term. I really love to build relationships with people who want to grow their base site traffic and reputation using content as the bridge.

    For instance if a plumbing contractor wanted to grow their site organically we would give them a keyword silo and guide them in how to write for those keywords. Eventually I would use theplumbinginfo.com as a springboard for their content. They gain authorship credit by writing for an already established site and it expands their online footprint.


    Editor’s Note: I have known Sean Kavanaugh since late 2013 and I trust him and find him to be very knowledgeable and capable on the subject owning, operating and growing Plumbing and Mechanical Companies as well as a skilled marketing expert for all Contractors.

    I Highly Recommend all contractors spend some time on his website ThePlumbingInfo.com and get to know him. He is a valuable resource to all contractors, not just Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors. Please be sure to let him know Randal DeHart, The Contractors Accountant, recommended you.

    Sean Kavanaugh and I met on Google+ in late 2013 and found we had a lot in common. We were both licensed journeyman plumbers earlier in our career paths and had the pain and pleasure of owning and operating plumbing companies.

    We have both moved on to other careers that involve construction. Sean manages 235 authority websites and one in particular near and dear to his heart is ThePlumbingInfo.com.

    Sean invited me to contribute articles to ThePlumbingInfo.com that are directed specifically to the wants, wishes, hopes, dreams and challenges of Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors.

    Frankly, I was very appreciative of the opportunity to serve Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors; however, my time is limited, having a 60+ hour workweek (it is because I want too, not that I have too).

    The thought of adding another 1-2 hours a week to construct a decent article and post it did not seem to be a good use of my time. After giving it, some thought I remembered one of the Journeyman Plumbers who mentored me in the Plumbing Trade and what he said "It is the responsibility of all Journeymen, in all trades to give back by mentoring" and the decision was made.

    I submit new articles every week to Sean Kavanaugh's website at www.ThePlumbingInfo.com with the understanding that he, as the editor, can add images and other graphics as he sees fit and that he decides when and if an article is published.

    It has been an absolute blessing to my Soul to have met Sean Kavanaugh and I am so very grateful to Sean Kavanaugh for the opportunity to contribute and will continue doing so until it is time to stop

    Many Thanks To You Sean Kavanaugh For All you Do For Contractors Everywhere!

    For Part One of Sean Kavanaugh's Podcast Interview click here

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    About The Author:

    Randal DeHart, PMP, QPA The Construction Accountant Randal DeHart, PMP, QPA is the co-founder of Business Consulting And Accounting in Lynnwood Washington. He is the leading expert in outsourced construction bookkeeping and accounting services for small construction companies across the USA. He is experienced as a Contractor, Project Management Professional, Construction Accountant, Intuit ProAdvisor, QuickBooks For Contractors Expert and Xero Accounting Specialist. This combination of experience and skill sets provides a unique perspective which allows him to see the world through the eyes of a contractor, Project Manager, Accountant and construction accountant. This quadruple understanding is what sets him apart from other Intuit ProAdvisors and Xero accountants to the benefit of all of the construction contractors he serves across the USA. Visit http://www.fasteasyaccounting.com/randal-dehart/ to learn more.

    Our Co-Founder Randal DeHart - Is a Certified PMP (Project Management Professional) with several years of construction project management experience. His expertise is construction accounting systems engineering and process development. His exhaustive study of several leading experts including the work of Dr. W. Edward Deming, Michael Gerber, Walter A. Shewhart, James Lewis and dozens of others was the foundation upon which our Construction Bookkeeping System is based and continues to evolve and improve. Check out our Contractor Success Map Podcast on iTunes and Follow Randal on Google+

    Topics: Sean Kavanaugh, Plumbing Contractor, Mechanical Contractor

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