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Ask The Boss: Tab Hunter

Photography by Alex Stafford By Alyssa Holcomb September 30, 2012

TAB HUNTER - “I can’t surf a lick.”

Tab Hunter

Owner, The Surfin’ Plumbers

Nashville native Tab Hunter, 43, has been in the plumbing business since he was fresh out of high school. After building his own Nashville-based company, Tab Hunter Plumbing, to a $5 million business, he sold to Sarasota’s Clockwork Home Services in 2006 and became Clockwork’s president of franchise operations. He retired three years later in 2009, and then one year later bought Bradenton’s Pritchard Plumbing. Hunter rebranded the business The Surfin’ Plumbers and has grown the company from $660,000 in annual revenues in October 2010 to $2 million a year later. Hunter now has 25 employees and says, even without his new locations in North Port and Nashville, revenues are “pacing to exceed 2011’s.”

 

How did you come up with the name, The Surfin’ Plumbers? “I learned a lot working for Clockwork about branding, about what makes things memorable and stick in the human mind. You need something that makes you say, ‘What, really?’ I also wanted to bring some fun and color into the industry.”

You retired in 2009 and then got back into plumbing. Why? “I needed to be more of a family person and not a corporate worker. I had started [my own business] at 23, sold it at 37. Never really had any time off. But after six months, I was done with retirement. I missed running my own business. A friend had told me about Pritchard Plumbing, and I and the owner made a deal.”

Biggest motivation? “I had to go to work after high school. I had no safety net.”

You expanded into North Port and Nashville this year. Any other expansion plans? “We’re in negotiations with a potential acquisition in Fort Myers by late fall. I’m also thinking of Tampa in 2013.”

Funniest response to the name of your company? “People stopped one of our trucks at a traffic light and asked, ‘Is this a rock band?’ Other people stop by the office and ask if we give surfing lessons.”

When did you know you’d made it? “I’ve never felt that way. I just know I’m really, really good at running a plumbing business.”

What helps you unwind? “The water and my kids, that’s why I’m working so hard. We live in one of the most beautiful places in North America. We find time by the water almost every weekend if I’m not working. For me, it’s my family.”

What would people be surprised to learn about you? "I can't surf a lick."

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