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Thursday, Nov 30, 2023

Twin Plummers Look to Double Profits

Many aspiring actors in Los Angeles turn toward side jobs to support their dreams. Very few turn to plumbing. But that’s what David and James Schuelke did, bringing their father’s plumbing business to Los Angeles to support their dramatic adventures. The twins’ acting lives included parts in commercials, TV shows and movies — the brothers were even terrorized onscreen by an evil villain in a 1996 horror flick. But then it ended. In the late 1990s, plumbing, they said, was simply becoming more lucrative. “Our work was running dry on the acting, but our plumbing company just started taking off,” David Schuelke said. Today, the business is still growing — and fast. In recent years, the twins expanded their offerings into mold removal, water damage repair, heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Those services will soon arrive in the Inland Empire, where their third brother Gary offers only plumbing for the company. In 2009, David Schuelke said the firm would fix a leak then leave. Now, he said, the company can fix the leak as well as repair the water and mold damage. “Now you are walking out of there with a $1,800 ticket, versus a $200 ticket,” Schuelke said. Schuelke Plumbing Inc. and DryRight Restoration — the twin’s separate water damage repair and mold removal business — are expected to take in $9 million in revenue, up from $6.5 million last year. This year, combined profit for the two businesses is expected to more than double. And next month, the brothers said they expect to expand their water damage repair and mold removal business into North Carolina and Arizona, where they will partner with friends. “We don’t really believe in the whole (bad) economy thing,” James Schuelke said. “Dave and I don’t really watch the news. We just focus on our business.” Earlier this year, the companies were growing so fast, the twins called in some professional help. “I wanted to fine tune what we had,” said James Schuelke, seated in a room at the Van Nuys headquarters, where the words “Manager Efficiency” were scrawled on a white sheet of paper posted on the window. Hired in February, business consultant Randy Moon brought in a company-specific pricing model and helped increase efficiency among the staff, the brothers said. Before the pricing model came online, the twins said technicians sometimes didn’t charge customers enough for the business to make money. “It was like money running out the door,” said Moon, who the brothers are working to hire permanently. Without those changes, the brothers said the expansion into other states would not have happened, but now they have the confidence they can “duplicate” their success in the Los Angeles region across the country. As the twins look toward expansion in other states, they have left the acting world. But they haven’t completely exited the spotlight. Photos of the two — wearing matching, light-blue dress shirts — are prominently displayed on their companies’ websites. And their mugs adorn the companies’ roughly 30 vehicles. Advertising that prominently displays family ties is a boon to family-owned businesses, said Mike McGrann, executive director of the S. Dale High Center for Family Business at Elizabethtown College. “If consumers believe they are buying from a family business, they will be more loyal,” he said. Plus, said James Schuelke, “A lot of people love seeing twins.”

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