Meet Derek Olin
A Plumber You Can Trust and Owner of Olin Plumbing, Inc.
To truly understand our company we believe it is best if you truly understand it's owner, Derek Olin. We have decided to share a little of Derek's personal story with you in order to provide some insight into the man behind the business.
Derek is the oldest of 4 boys and like many other boys at a young age he mowed lawns in the summer to make money. One day he heard about a man, who lived not far from his house that needed someone to dig out a crawl space so he could have a basement. Derek jumped at the opportunity to make $2 an hour and ran right over and applied for the job. That man who was looking for someone to dig out a crawl space was Pete Costello, he along with his wife lived in a little home out of which they ran Costello Plumbing and Heating, a small plumbing company located in Dumfries, Virginia.
Pete Costello asked Derek "Can I help you?" Derek replied, "I hear you are looking for someone to dig." Pete took one look at this skinny 14 year old boy and snickered, then he asked "Have you got any experience in digging boy?" Derek replied "Yes sir, I dig all the time." "Where do you dig?" Pete inquired, "In my back yard" Derek replied.
Evidently, Pete Costello was amused or appreciated Derek's enthusiasm, and agreed to hire him at $2 an hour. Pete told Derek he could work 1 hour a day, either before or after school and all day Saturday. Derek showed up for work the very next day and every day after, until summer break came, Pete then let Derek work longer hours. One day, Pete told Derek "Come on boy, I need you on a job", and that is how the adventure in the plumbing field started for Derek Olin.
Pete Costello then started teaching Derek slowly about plumbing. In the evenings after work he would give Derek various plumbing fittings with the names on each so Derek could go to the work truck and retrieve the matching part when they were on the job. Pete Costello of Costello Plumbing and Heating is a Master Plumber and brought Derek up in the trade of plumbing as a helper. Helper is another word for apprentice, where a journeyman or master teaches his trade to another. Derek worked with Pete Costello until he was 18 when he was offered a job with Brown and Root as a millwright helper.
Derek did not work at Brown and Root for long, only about 6 months, when he decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy. Derek was stationed aboard the USS Bronson DD 868 as a BT boiler technician. After his tour in the Navy, he returned to Dumfries and started working for Pete again, but was laid off due to lack of work. After that, Derek began to work at Hilton Construction Company where he installed main sewer lines and manholes. Although this was plumbing, it did not appeal to him, so Derek then started working for a company called Springfield Plumbing as a new construction plumber and later as a service plumber.
Derek later relocated to Tucson, Arizona with Wright Plumbing, then back to Manassas, VA with A.F. Greer Plumbing and then to Yanick Plumbing, where he married the bosses daughter, Debora. "I thought I knew plumbing, until I went to work for my father-in-law" Derek said. Derek truly learned more from his father-in-law than anyone else. His father-in-law would send him on a call and tell him not to come back if the job was not done. Derek would spend hours trying to figure out the problem and did not get paid for it either. Out of a 40 hour week, Derek may have gotten paid for 25 hours of work. Derek worked for his father-in-law for about 4 years and then he got the opportunity to work for Tom Kreutzer, owner of Woodbridge Plumbing.
While working for Tom, Derek took his Master Plumbers test in 1983 and passed. Derek worked for Tom for about 5 years and decided to move on. He went to work for Mimi Plumbing, a new construction plumbing company. "This is not plumbing" Derek said, "There is no challenge in this kind of work, the same thing, day after day, anyone can do this, new work does not make a plumber." Derek was then offered a job to work for a former plumber that had worked at Woodbridge Plumbing, Floyd Furr was the owner of F.H. Furr Plumbing and Heating. Floyd and Derek were a good team and Derek worked hard for Floyd, but at that time Derek had a drinking problem. One day, after work, Derek was drunk, and quit F.H. Furr Plumbing and Heating.
Derek then decided he wanted to work for himself and started a plumbing company called Olin Plumbing and Heating in Woodbridge, VA. Derek took on a partner named Jay Bridwell in 1985 and in 1986 Derek sat for his Class A Master Plumbers test and passed. Things were going well for Olin Plumbing and Heating until the end of the '80s when a depression set in and contractors stopped paying for the work that Derek's company had completed. Derek began drinking more and more at this time because of the difficulty he was facing at work and at home.
In 1990, Olin Plumbing and Heating dissolved and Derek, devastated by everything happening, drank for a year, and did nothing but drink, dusk till dawn. One day, Derek's 6 year old daughter, Jennifer, said she wanted him to go to A.A. Derek knew he had a problem and needed to do something, so he started the program. He went to every AA meeting for one year and sobered up, however, the 12 year marriage had been through too many hardships and there was not enough love in the relationship to salvage it.
Derek and Debora separated, and Derek took nothing but his truck and tools. In 1994, Derek was given the opportunity to move to Tampa, FL. He thought it would be a good move, new town, new start. Derek made the right choice, Tampa has been good to Derek, giving him a new outlook on life and a chance to start over, leaving his past behind. In Tampa, Derek worked for a couple of well known plumbers, but did not care for the way they did business, nor for the services they provided, so he worked on his own as a handyman for several years.
In 2000, Derek met Marina on AOLlove.com, the two became a couple and married in January of 2003. Things are much different now for Derek, he says, "Life is good, I want to succeed and grow, it makes all the difference in the world when you are with someone you love that stands behind you and supports you and your work. It makes me want to make a difference." So in 2007 Derek started a backflow testing company, 'Olin $25 Backflow Test', where he donates all the profits to All Children's Hospital.
Derek has sat and passed his Florida plumbing contractors exam and is ready to make a difference in the plumbing trade. That difference is to go back in time and bring back the craftsmanship of the plumbing trade, to be a plumbing company that has plumbers, not service technicians and people who are proud of their trade.
Derek wanted to share his story, the good, the bad, and the ugly because he believes that you should know and trust the people that you hire to come into your home or place of work. Trust begins by knowing the person behind the company which will help you to determine whether or not that person is honest. Being honest is not easy, but it is necessary to gain the trust of others. Picking a plumber, doctor, financial advisor or any other service provider for the first time, can be a difficult decision because you are taking a chance. Never pick a plumbing contractor because they have a great ad in the yellow pages or because of what they say about themselves, but choose a plumber because you think you can trust them in your home, in your business, around your family and your personal belongings.
Though Derek is not proud of his past, he believes that it makes him who he is today. At 63 years of age and after being sober for the past 27 years, Derek feels that he has become an honest man who is happy with his life. Thank you for taking the time to read the personal story of Derek Olin, a true Master Plumber and Craftsman.