Mike Marinez, owner of Mike’s Plumbing, at his workshop on Sept. 21, in Edmonds. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Mike Marinez, owner of Mike’s Plumbing, at his workshop on Sept. 21, in Edmonds. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

It’s a dirty job, but this Edmonds man is up to do it

A plumber’s work is sometimes gross, says Miguel “Mike” Marinez, but for him the rewards outweigh the rats.

EDMONDS — After moving to Washington, Miguel “Mike” Marinez hit the ground plumbing.

For the past two decades he’s cleared clogged drains, fixed leaky pipes, replaced toilets, repaired water heaters and done all kinds of plumbing work on properties in the Edmonds area.

Marinez, 60, can’t count the number of homes and businesses he’s aided over the years, but he’s made enough of an impression for MyEdmondsNews.com readers to vote Mike’s Plumbing & Drain Cleaning as 2022 Best Plumber.

Can Marinez’s job be gross at times?

Absolutely. Occasionally he has to deal with sewer lines, restaurant grease traps and septic tanks.

“But it isn’t as often as people think,” Marinez said. “There is a misconception that we’re just swimming around in sewage all day long, and that’s not true.”

A bigger hurdle for plumbers is navigating tight, rat-infested crawl spaces. But that doesn’t faze Marinez, nor do attacking raccoons or possums. For him the joy that comes from helping others outweighs the risks. Plus, the money doesn’t hurt. The average annual wage for a Seattle-area plumber last year was $86,040, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“It’s a good-paying job because nobody wants to do it,” Marinez said.

Growing up, Marinez, a Dominican from Boston, had no interest in handiwork.

“Not at all,” he said. “Not in my wheelhouse.”

His youthful interests were always sports-related. After finishing school, Marinez set out to become a personal trainer and managed a gym for a couple of years. Eventually he concluded it was going to be too difficult to financially support himself unless he owned his own gym.

So Marinez started doing odd jobs like fireproofing, insulation and asbestos removal. One day he answered an ad for a gig that would change the course of his life. A family-owned property management company was looking for someone to assist their plumber. Marinez applied and was hired. Over time he was given more and more tasks to manage.

“I just had a knack for it,” he said.

He continued in the profession after he and his wife Nicole Marinez moved to Washington in 1991 so she could finish school. Marinez’s first plumbing gig in the Pacific Northwest was at Roto-Rooter. He then worked for a couple different plumbing outfits before launching his own business in 2001.

“I just noticed that pricing was getting out of hand, and I thought that I could provide a good service at a lower cost,” he said.

At first it was just Marinez and a truck. He was on his own, but he wasn’t worried. Marinez said he’d built up a loyal following from previous customers who would request him specifically wherever he worked. It got to the point where he felt he had enough support to become his own boss. His referral base only grew from there.

From the start, Marinez said he didn’t want his business to become so large that he couldn’t manage it on his own. Every plumber he knew told him managing employees was a headache. He admits that may be true, but there’s strength in numbers.

“I fought it for a long time, but I was so busy,” Marinez said. “I just couldn’t handle the business myself anymore.”

Today, Marinez co-owns Mike’s Plumbing with his wife. The company employs nine office workers and 10 plumbers. It’s a family affair. All three of Marinez’s sons, his grandson, and a few of his nephews have worked for him at some point. One day, Marinez would like to pass the business onto his son Miguel, one of his lead plumbers.

Not anyone can be a plumber. According to Marinez, it takes someone with a “really good sense of math,” especially geometry.

The job is very physical. He said most new plumbers quickly lose 20 pounds from constantly army crawling. But for Marinez the most important quality is people skills.

Marinez strives to be respectful when in a client’s home and to make them feel comfortable with his presences.

Over the years plumbing has gotten easier as technology has progressed. Marinez has better tools to work with. He doesn’t have to solder as much, which he calls a “lost art.” No matter what happens in the world, his job is secure.

“Plumbing will never go away. It’s changing,” Marinez said. “There’s more technology, but I think that as a society, we’re always going to need plumbers.”

Eric Schucht: 425-339-3477; eric.schucht@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @EricSchucht.

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