John the Plumber: it takes a team


February 17, 2024


The "John the Plumber" crew: Erik, Mark, Melanie, Jeff, Chelsea, Kim and John.

For 17 years, John Nelson ran his plumbing business as a solo shop. Starting out as Cal City Plumbing, he hired a few people along the way but found that he preferred working alone. Problem was, there wasn't enough of him to go around.

"I had the problem that every small business owner prays for: too much business," he laughs, "but there's a downside to that as well. I was behind in billing, I often couldn't answer the phone or return calls until the evening and I was having to tell too many people 'no.'"

With his wife's insistence, John hired his first employee at John the Plumber in 2016. Mark had been doing some drywall work at John and Sarah's home and they were really impressed with his great aptitude and attitude, a combination that is not easy to find. Plus, he had a level of work experience that only comes with maturity. Eight years later, Mark has his own contractor's license yet continues to be part of the team at John the Plumber.

Jeff came on board in 2019. Despite his background being in flooring and not plumbing, Jeff was highly recommended by one of our favorite servers at the now defunct Kelley's Chuckwagon Café, Chelsea Kelley. Like Mark, Jeff had a calm demeanor and pleasant attitude that customers find reassuring. Jeff left JTP to go back to flooring for a while but returned in 2022.

Erik joined the team in October of 2021. Sarah met him when he applied for work at her store, the Healthy Hippie Trading Co. He had been working at a local auto parts store while also running his own landscaping company. While she didn't need help at the Hippie, she didn't want to let this prospect get away, so she pitched the idea of him working for John doing plumbing.

"He just had the greatest energy about him. Very calm and self-assured," Sarah said.

Their newest plumber trainee, Melanie, has been with JTP less than a month but is showing great promise. Her background is truck driving but, as John says, "She's not afraid to pick up a shovel and not afraid to get dirty. She's fitting in quite nicely."

No plumbing business is complete without a strong office staff and John the Plumber has the best. Kim, their dispatcher, came to them from Benz.

"We snatched up Kim when Waste Management bought out Benz. She had been with them for 12 years," Sarah said. "All we had to do was teach her our system and let her at it. She's a natural at customer service and dispatching, and keeps things running smoothly for the customers and crew."

That server from Kelley's who recommended Jeff not only became head of accounts receivable and assistant to Kim in 2019, but she also married Jeff last month with John acting as Justice of the Peace. When they say they are, "One big family at John the Plumber," they aren't kidding. All loose ends that are part of running a small business seem to fall into Chelsea's lap and she handles it like the pro she is.

Remember, when you call John the Plumber, you aren't just getting your plumbing needs handled but you're also supporting five local families...and they thank you!

You can reach Kim or Chelsea at (661) 823-8031 or (760) 373-7050 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also send a message 24/7 at


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