A family plumber who started his own business

Written by By Frances Lee, CNN

They often get it wrong. They start right, their fingers move left, then they get the wind up. But they just keep going back, trying again. And so they keep losing their jobs.

That’s the story of Dave. It’s a story of a plumber who stopped to pitch in for a four-hour hose switch, but ended up running two businesses from his new house — and working late on a Monday night.

“Three weeks in, my wife and I were just sitting there when the phone rang,” he recalls.

“I looked out the window and there was this blonde cleaning lady outside my front door, trying to move the lights off. I looked back and I’m making out, I thought, ‘That’s the worst sign imaginable for a plumber to be stuck to a ladder with nothing to do’. So I said, ‘For the love of God, quit right now.'”

Her response: “This is our first date.”

Their professional paths both diverged — and then collided. Their paths crossed and then crossed again as they tried to stay afloat. And yet they kept trying.

Hauling plywood for handyman repair firm

Dave’s brother was working for an interior designer when they were both laid off from their design jobs in Las Vegas — and he suggested they buy plywood.

They started working out of his house to give themselves a few months, then brought their work to his shop. Slowly, business grew and by the end of 2010 they were nearly broke. They quit two weeks later.

Dave became a handyman. His only clients? Two guys living in a garage they converted into a shed.

“We knew we couldn’t go to an office or go out, so we ended up moving into this yard shed of a rental house,” he says.

Once the guys moved out, he added a shed of his own.

“We slept in a trailer. We did everything for ourselves. We knew if we got stuck, there was not anybody at all that could help us.”

The calls kept coming.

The for-profit business, Caltech Flats, was born. Every Saturday, before work, Dave and the clients made the 2 1/2-hour round trip from nearby Henderson, Nevada, to pick up loads of cement.

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