Joe Repasky

AGE: 32



How long have you been in the PHCP-PVF industry?

I started working in the warehouse of a large regional plumbing wholesaler when I was 18. Hit the ground running and worked hard to get to Foreman by 22. Within the next few years, I started covering the sales desk, and then transitioned to inside sales. 15 years after joining the industry, I somehow got chosen to be the manager of one of the oldest supply houses in Oregon: Saffron Supply. It’s been one hell of a ride, and I’m not exactly sure how I got here, but I don’t want to question it too hard haha.

What drew you into the industry?

Obligation! Haha. I joke, but at 18-years-old, you don’t have grand dreams about PVC, brass fittings, and sinks. It was the summer after the crash of 2008, and money was scarce. My dad was the outside salesman for the aforementioned large regional plumbing wholesaler for 30-some years, so when a position opened up in the warehouse, I couldn’t say no to minimum wage warehousing. The thing that interested me was immersing myself into something I had never previously considered; as a kid, I was interested in technology, and my ideal career path was becoming a teacher. When I was thrown into the world of PHCP-PVF, I was a completely blank slate, and used the opportunity to just learn as much as I could from the bottom up.

What is the most rewarding aspect of working in the industry?

Seeing your customers be successful. My success is helping those around me, and watching small shops take on the world. We’ve helped 1-man plumbing companies turn into multi-van fleets by offering them the same fairness and attention we would to any large contractor. Knowing that we can be a resource for everyone to create their own path is one of the most rewarding feelings out there.

What motivates you every day?

I feel like there’s a lot of things here that could be chosen as a safe answer. I could say that I’m motivated by family; to be the son my mom wants me to be and put more into the world than I take out from it, and to take up the mantle of my father in the industry and follow his precedent of treating people with a universal kindness. I could say that I’m motivated by my loving wife, who encourages me in every step of this unblazed trail, and helps me understand myself better. I could say that I’m motivated by the reward of success itself; to build something wherein I’m afforded the opportunity to assist my peers in their lives, and hire more people to help them find their own unblazed trail. All of these things are true, but the motivation itself lies in chasing a moment in time where everything feels right. It’s nebulous, because I don’t know what that moment will be; but I’m not going to stop until I’m there. It might come in the form of sharing a glass of wine with my wife and quietly looking back on the good choices we made and the people we’ve helped, or it could come next month as the pieces of a 10-year plan start to feel on track. All of it motivates me.

What is one thing you wish more people knew/understood about the PHCP-PVF industry?

I could spend hours on this singular train of thought, and most of my answers would be interwoven with a caustic sarcasm that’s probably not safe for print. I suppose the two answers I could give are from separate perspectives. For my customers, I wish less people had the perception of plumbing being exclusively a dirty job. Most of our customers work in new construction, hooking up showers and brand-new toilets; they’re not covered in muck and lacking proper pants suspension. They’re hardworking individuals, most of which have a college degree, and adhere to strict construction code, while also bookkeeping their own business. It’s rough, and most people don’t see that. For myself, as a supplier, I wish the general populous knew that it’s physically impossible to stock literally everything. There’s no place in town that’s going to have a cartridge for your 70-year-old discontinued faucet that MIGHT have been welded together from spart parts from WWII. Setting a realistic expectation for suppliers in ALL industries would be something I’m sure we could all agree upon.

What has been your proudest moment in your career so far?

Pride can get misconstrued with a lot of other emotions, so it can be confusing to answer something in that realm. The first moment that came to mind was something brutal; we had a week in the middle of summer 2022 that felt insurmountable. Fully staffed and working at 110% capacity, people were running, orders were flying, things were being thrown to/at coworkers for various reasons. Monday through Friday, it was like dilating a panic attack and spreading it out over five days. Friday rolls around, 20 minutes ‘til closing, and the crew is talking to each other and smiling. A couple of people were clocked out, but still hanging around. After such an assaulting week, I was positive that everyone was going to try and leave the second they could. To my absolute shock, everyone was so pumped, they asked “what’d we total this week?!” Having a team that was able to execute on one of the most stressful weeks I’ve ever seen, and retroactively be excited about the chaos was one of the proudest moments I’ve felt. I’m grateful to call this place home, and these people a family.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

Probably just the diversity of my hobbies. We’re so busy anymore, there hasn’t been much time to discuss what gets done outside of work. I’m a writer with several published short stories under various pseudonyms, a chef with a 90-page pending recipe book and featured recipes by world-famous brands, I’m a drummer that’s formed a 3-piece band with two plumbers that’s written and recorded Saffron Supply’s hold music (we’re working on an album), and that through a few of these varied hobbies, I’ve hosted fundraisers totaling in almost $100,000 for different causes.