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Out on his own

When Terry Sieben started working as a plumber right out of high school seven-and-a-half years ago it was a job. That's all.

Now, the Hampton resident is making it his life.

After seven-plus years of working for other people, Sieben is going out on his own. On March 1 he will open Sieben Plumbing, a one-man operation he'll run from his home.

For Sieben, the move will be a big step on a journey that began without a lot of fanfare. He got into plumbing at the suggestion of a friend. He liked the job OK. It paid well and it wasn't too hard on his body. But he didn't start out with any particular passion for the work.

But Sieben joined the union. He started getting training. Last October he got his Master's License. And somewhere along the line he started to really enjoy the work he was doing. So a while back he figured it was time to go out on his own.

"Everybody says, 'Yeah, I want to try it out or start my own business,'" Sieben said. "I said it for five years. One day I decided it was time to do something about it.

"It's always something I wanted to do. It's just a matter of doing it."

Sieben has spent the past several months figuring out just what it takes to start a business from scratch. He's taught himself the ins and outs of owning a business. He got bonded and insured. He set up relationships with wholesalers and stocked up on supplies. He bought a van and decorated it with his logo. He's got a large garage behind his house he plans to use as a mini-warehouse.

He's learning how to handle all of the things he never had to worry about when he was working for someone else.

"There's a lot to learn," Sieben said. "It took a long time to get the ins and outs.

"The toughest part is just getting stressed about whether it works," he said. "The tough part is laying in bed not sleeping."

Sieben hopes some of that goes away next month when he can get back to work. He's been doing some work for friends to keep busy, but he's looking forward to having a steady income again. He expects to handle light commercial work and new home construction in addition to service calls. He plans to put in a bid for the renovation of a business in Hastings and has been trying to make other connections in order to get his name out in the community.

Sieben knows he's done what he can to get ready. Now he just has to hope people find him. He said the low overhead involved in running a one-man operation will allow him to offer lower prices than his competitors.

"I think it's equaling out -- the excitement and the nerve-wracking part," he said. "Some days I feel great and some days you wonder what you're doing.

"I'm looking forward to the phone ringing and people trying me out," he said. "I guarantee they'll be satisfied."