Half a century on, Farmington family business is still going strong
Wayne Peine’s first serious exposure to the family business came when he was about 10 years old. He’d tag along with his dad on jobs, help when he could and do his best to stay out of the way when he couldn’t.
He liked it. He liked working with his hands and he liked hanging out with his dad. He knew even then, at least as much as any pre-teen could, that he would probably follow in his father’s footsteps.
Ervin Peine was working as a carpenter in 1964 when he decided he’d rather be his own boss. So, he found space in the basement of Farmington’s Town’s Edge Mall and opened Peine Plumbing and Heating. He had one employee when he started, and his wife, Lorraine, handled the books in between raising six children. She often worked late into the night to get everything done.
50 years later, the business is still going strong. And Wayne is the owner.
These days Peine Plumbing and Heating has three employees, down from seven at the height of the area’s building boom. Lorraine has handed off bookkeeping duties to Wayne’s sister Denise. And the tools of the trade have changed a lot. Ervin Peine was one of the first plumbers in the area to put two-way radios in his trucks. Now, every Peine employee has smartphones and GPS.
The business moved in the early 1970s to its current location on Highway 3, but in many ways it is still much like it always was.
“We’ve always wanted to stay a smaller company,” said Wayne, who has been part of the family business full time since he graduated from Dunwoody in 1979. “We just kind of thought we could take care of our customers a little better.”
The customers seem to appreciate that. Wayne said in some cases the business is doing jobs for the second or third generation of the same family.
The technology they can offer has changed. There are options for in-floor heating or geothermal heating that Ervin never would have imagined. Many of the products the company offers get a test run in Wayne’s house before he’ll offer them to customers. Right now he’s testing a wi-fi thermostat that can go online to check the weather and send notices to customers’ phones.
Houses have changed a lot over the years, too. Where most older homes were built with just one bathroom, “you can’t hardly build a house now without two to four bathrooms,” Wayne said.
That’s good news for a plumber.
Wayne retired a few years ago from working in the field. He spends most of his time these days planted in the office.
“I thought it was gonna be a major pain, but I actually enjoy it,” he said. “It’s easier on my body.”
With the housing market appearing to take a turn for the better, the goal at the moment is to build the business back up closer to where it was at its biggest. Things have been very busy lately, Wayne said, at a time that is typically slow for plumbers.
He wants to make sure the business is in good shape for the future. His son Connor graduated two years ago from Farmington High School and will graduate from Dunwoody in May. He didn’t spend as much time as his dad did tagging along on jobs growing up, but Wayne said he’s preparing to take over the business in a few years.
He’s looking forward to at least another 30 or 40 years of Peine Plumbing.