Our company founder, Diego Lujan, was recently featured on a Facebook Live video on “The Million Dollar Plumber” show. He talked about the challenges of starting a business, extreme ownership, building his business, and how his goal and vision is to bring knowledge, strategy, and execution to everything in life. Watch the video and see what Diego’s all about!
Hey, let's get our cool cat in here. Let's get him on in here. Mr. Diego Lujan. All right, he's the owner of Alphalete Plumbing out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Did I get it? Right that I get it? Right man.
That's perfect, man. Alphalete Plumbing and Heat.
All right, man, how you doing brother?
You know what? I'm blessed and I'm full of gratitude to have this opportunity to be on your show, man. So I'm feeling great, feeling great.
Thank you, brother. Man, we decided to have you on thank you for taking the time to be on man. You are you looking sharp man. You make us look good.
Hey, you know, I try to set the tone everywhere I go.
Hey, tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do? What do you like to do when you're not plumbing—we're going to get into plumbing, but what do you like to do when you're not plumbing?
What I like to do, man is really spend time with my family. My wife, my kids, they're part of the sacrifice that I've had to make running a business. So on my free time, I really like to spend time with my family man. That's, that's what I'm about.
All right man. How many kids you have? I got three kids three kids, okay. A ten year old, an eight year old and a two year old. Man, that's a full time job.
Yes it is. You know to take care of that woman. All right? That's brother to brother right there. All right, well good man. We're glad to have you on so tell us let's get into plumbing man. So, how did you get in the plumbing? What's your story?
So, a little back story on me man is I grew up in the construction industry my whole life. Blue collar working my whole life. My grandfather owned a construction roofing business and I knew I didn't want to do roofing. I knew I didn't want to do concrete, you know, so so plumbing was the next best thing, you know, and it's funny. I actually got —fell into plumbing a couple of partners I knew were pipe fitting big water purification systems in a warehouse all day. Well, we ended up getting laid off all at the same time and they said hey, man, why don't you come apply at this plumbing company and I said plumbing? didn't have a clue what plumbing what you know besides the average Joe what they think of plumbing, you know, I said, okay, so I went and I applied and got the job and and just since that beginning man I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life, man, and I fell in love with plumbing. I really did.
See that's why I that's why I call us where brotherhood you know. We talk to guys literally all over the world. You know, what come from different states different countries, you know, maybe some different races you know our English, maybe a little different different last names and all that but we talk about—it's amazing with how we become plumbers how similar our stories are you know.
So if anyone out there has done roofing also and had the roof, you know, had to to tar on a hot roof and all that on the hot and the Heat. Throw a one in the comments. All right, I knew I didn't didn't want to do roofing either.
That's a hard labor job, man. That really is. I'm not saying ours ain't, but that's a different ballgame.
Oh, yeah. Oh, man, it certainly is so you got so you've got in the plumbing, you know, you're doing that. What was what was the point? What was your like, you know, aha moment or a tipping Point or whatever that you know, that thing that says, well, I'm going to do my own plumbing business?
You know what? It was probably the second year in my career. I was joking around saying someday I will own my own business right? Not knowing what that really meant to me. But as years went on I understood what it meant to me. You know what it meant to me means I can do what I love and not only do what I love but create more opportunities for me and my family man, so that that moment in my career. I knew what I wanted to do. And that was own my own business man.
Oh man. I love it, brother. I love it I so relate to that.
You know, it's funny because throughout. The years everybody I said that to in the plumbing industry just kind of looked and laughing yeah, okay. All right. Sure Diego he sure we believe you, you know, but now that they see how successful the business has became become. You know now they congratulate you know, and that right there is a sense of motivation to you know, this I'm doing the right thing in my life, man.
So, oh, man, and you know what you are. You know what you are Diego and I mean, this is a good thing. I'm not going to call your name a lot of guys and me relate to this if you ever feel like you're alone or do something different like with Diego we experience that way, you know a couple of years in before I even had to put the business you had a vision for yourself that you could do this and what you weren't judging your life and where you were at. You were looking at where you wanted to be, and you know what that is you what you are. You are an eagle you're an eagle man, and what eagles do eagles the two things by the way eagles mate for life. I got to tell my guys out there eagles mate for life; really eagles do that, and also eagles soar alone. Okay, and eagles are rare. Okay, and so you're out there soaring, so it is different. So if you guys are out there and I imagine they go maybe you speak on this how you sometimes you love your friends and family all that right? You look look we love our family but we sometimes we may feel like we're a little different or a little outside the groove
Sure. with everybody else you ever you ever feel that way?
I do feel that way, man. What people seem to understand is is by owning your own plumbing business or just business in general. There are sacrifices that have to be made and unfortunately one of the sacrifices I had to make was time away from my family right? Working 18-hour days coming home for an hour and going to bed. That's been that was the routine, you know, and if that's what it takes to build a successful business, especially build it fast because I am impatient person man. I know what I want and I am going to go after it all cost. You know this year. We're all in man. So I understand the eagles the eagle thing you know, and that's that's why part of our logo is the lions, you know. Yeah, when I saw this dream, we're lions here, you know.
Let's talk about talk about that expand on that little bit more that's important guys that there's a nugget of gold being dropped it here right here. What's listen up you expand on that?
So when I branded my business, I had a whole notebook of company names. I mean probably four or five notebooks of just company names throughout the years, you know all the names you can think of right? But the name that really hit me was Alphalete Plumbing and what that stands for is Alpha, you know, the beginning, alpha male, alphas, and then elite, we're elite in this industry. We want to be the top of the top of the top of the food chain, you know, and then the lion to me symbolizes, you know, everybody not badmouthing no companies, but I just wanted to be different, you know, a lot of plumbing companies have a pipe wrench or a guy holding a wrench, you know that there's nothing wrong with that, you know, but I wanted the lion and that symbolizes to me to the business to everybody that works here that's employed here that's a team member here, that symbolizes strength, power, passion, and drive, and that's what we bring to our customers. That's what we bring to the industry.
I love you, brother. I love you, man. You got huge nuggets of gold are guys. You just laid out Diego just just laid out some huge stuff there. First of all, I love how you claim your territory. You claimed it. Alpha I'm an alpha and that what that means. Okay, alpha and elite. All right, even before you are that's why you know like Muhammad Ali was were spouting “I'm the champ,” you know, “I'm the greatest of all time” before he ever was. That's what champions do. You gotta claim claim your territory? You got it. You got it. You got to claim it. Then I also had love how how you. With you know, what was meaningful to you. You know what the lion, that meant something to you. Look, you know, it was personal. So even the guys that if you do, you know, if you do take a guy and put him with a wrench or whatever if it means something within your vision… but it must be personal but the lion was personal so so that brand that that company becomes you. Okay, and then also finally on the practical side is that you looked at the do something different that you actually looked at it and said I just don't want to look like everybody else. That's there's nothing wrong with that is that you know, you want to be different the stand out from the crowd. So your customer recognizes you more quickly man, great stuff there.
And that lion head turns heads, let me tell you there are times when we're driving and that lion turns heads. Let me touch on the our knowledge strategy and execution, you know? Yeah, I believe every human should live by those three rules knowledge it against the knowledge you come up with the strategy and whatever you do in life doesn't even have to be business. And then ultimately it's the follow-through part that counts on that the execution the execution is the most important part in every aspect of life, of business, of talking to customers and doing the job. If you're not executing and following through with the knowledge and strategy you started that project with it's all for nothing, you know, and that's that's what that means to to the brand.
You know, Amen brother who says that's a mic drop right there. There we go. Well, thank you, it's about time to flush this episode of potty talk live… There's a lot there guys. Yeah, you got you got a lot of fans out here. Yeah. Yeah doctor shell says this guy is a champ right on brother and there's s coming from another champ. Champs recognize champs. You got to have that attitude and you got to keep following through, you know, it's not easy and that's why I want to bring it's not easy. So what is something when you started your plumbing business, you know, we're all excited. You know, we're in the ring and all of a sudden we get hit. You know when you got hit what was what was the hit that surprised you when you got in you started your plumbing business?
You know that I'm actually writing a book. The title of that book is “what not to do your first year in a plumbing business.”
That's a good one.
Because I did everything right, but I did everything wrong early on to learn from my failures. You know, I took those losses and I turned them into lessons man. And in one of the biggest things was as you know, estimating/bidding jobs. I lost, excuse my language here, but I lost my ass the first year, you know, and I'll tell you what
Most do—lovely laura here, she just said most do.
Yeah, you know what? I'm glad I learned that early on and that was one of the biggest lessons I took away from starting my own business, you know was taking them losses and learning from them.
So what I hear from you and I'm going to know mean to lead the jury here. What I what I hear from you though. Is that even though we lose either phrase I speak on all the time about failing forward. You want to fail forward fail forward a lot of times and what's sad? Well, first of all, is that out there 95% of all plumbing businesses fail within the first three years. Okay, and the reason they fail as they don't learn just what you did. They don't learn from the mistakes and allow the mistakes to beat them back instead of Learning from them and failing forward.
It sounds like you just learned. Hey, I'm in I'm in on this thing. And so what you know, what did I do wrong here? And what can I do better next time?
Exactly and that's that's what I also preach to my people that are in the field. You know, I tell them you're allowed to make $5,000 decisions, you know anything over that you need to contact me. We need to discuss it and if you make a mistake, let's go, let's sit down and let's look at what the solution to the problem is, you know, so I'm real big on learning from mistakes, but ultimately minimizing the mistakes from learning from previous people, you know, that's wrong.
Great point there. Huge nugget of gold there. Learning from mistakes of from previous people. That's that's a shortcut right there. Okay, look at what others are doing and what they did wrong and don't do that.
Yeah, don't do that.
In the internet man, you know, I don't believe in college. I just want to put out there. I don't think it's bad if you go to college, but in this age of Technology man with YouTube with with people like you in the industry, you can you can be self taught you can self educate yourself to get to the next level in life, man. And I'm really big on that. You know, I'm really big at preaching that you know, it's all about self development and self-education is the key to success man. It really is.
Hey, that's that's Champion talk there Diego because even when you know, we knew we loved our sports figures and I'm going to show my age a little bit. You know, my guy was Michael Jordan. Okay this guy and still my opinion and my old opinion, you know, being an old dog, I think he's the best ball team basketball player, you know of all time. Hey guy, the guy I'd already had two championship rings okay on his finger on two fingers because he actually had two. But here's a guy that want to take his game. So to the next level he knew that while he was he wasn't going to be the quickest outside all you know forever and he needs to learn to play like a big man. So what did he do? He went and got himself a coach to learn how to play like a big man. Okay. He could have sat back and he's already he's already known as His Airness. You know and so he could have just sat back and just go on with what he had but he was old Champions are always looking to take their game to the next level are continually continuously learning. You got to continuously learn, you know at every level I'll admit that I that we're learning the lovely Laura and I are look at you. We have our personal game and we're looking to go to another level, you know, and so you always got to got to humble yourself and be willing to you know to learn to be able to what. If you get that lovely Laura, so if you get that put champ in the comments? Okay, put champ into comments. Diego that's huge nugget of gold there. You just laid down. Hey another so so you're being you're being real here and sign of being transparent here. What is something that you do struggle with even today with your with your business? That you're working on?
To be a hundred percent honest? Nothing. That was a joke.
Keeping that cash flow constantly running in that is Alphalete's biggest struggle and and I'll tell you why and the biggest struggle on that because the last three and half years we're a construction based company.
Someone ask me what I think about being the new construction. Go ahead. I dare someone to ask me.
We're 60% commercial 40% custom residential. But in Jan and December, I read two books man, Extreme Ownership and Dichotomy of Leadership, by Jocko Willink and those books changed my life for the better. So in December, I took extreme ownership of my life of the business where the business was at. And I made and I make I'm making huge changes across the board of the whole business and part of that was okay in order to thrive and survive in business. You got to have a service division you—I'm not letting go of our construction clients. I'm not that's my background. I'm all the way around plumber, but that's what I love to do. And I also love service, you know, because that's what started this business so cash flow was at the center of you know the center of the biggest problem is okay. I have thousands of dollars floating. Just floating. Just waiting to get paid man. And I still got to meet payroll. I still gotta pay mortgages. I still got to…
You know what you were? You were the National Bank of Sucker. That's what was up here. When you do new construction and Commercial Workers—this is no snowflakes we're all about being real here. I always want their love you guys and we come from nothing wrong with you can't did it. Did new construction, big homes, little homes, million-dollar homes, fancy, nothing fancy. You know, commercial work, I get it all I get all the excitement with that. But what happens is is they think about this they get you to front the money all the money for the materials and the labor and then they may pay you sometime down the road.
Yeah, and that is the trouble.
You can't pay your business that way, it can't be… coming from nothing coming from a one truck to the you can't you can't do it. It can't be done guys. Now now we have you'll have I like what you know, you always have part of your plumbing business, you know, they can be a service that a new construction division of commercial division because that's where you can put your guys to learn. And then those guys transition into your service, which is really where the money is new construction new construction for for us was always just just icing on the cake gravy extra money, you know fun money, play money.
Okay? Yeah. Well right now it's chasing the rabbit for us, right? So I took extreme ownership, and I said okay. We can survive, we're service service service, we're taking care of the people, branding a rebranding our service division networking with the community giving back to the community and ultimately just grow this service division where it can sustain this business and pay our monthly bills, man. So that's the goal of 2019.
There we go. That is awesome. Take you take responsibility. That's the bottom line with that take responsibility for that. Go for the customer that's looking for Value. That's what a residential service customer is. The difference is and new construction and in commercial there your your you know, your bickering over the price of a water heater. Okay and residential service. Mrs. Jones Just Once hot water and she'll pay whatever just give me the hot water today. There's a key there today. You got to get it today. That's what they're paying for. All right.
And since we've been doing service since January. Our cash flow has been great. You know, it's been self-sustaining and and I said, why didn't I do this Why didn't I stay on this since the beginning but it's okay I learned and I learned?
That's okay, it's coming from guys. We all been there. So even take Diego Thank You man from just being so transparent and real because we all were there the million dollar plumbers. We all started we started from there and he you know, that that's kind of how we get into it. That's what gets us into it. That's kind of what we know and then we learn. And what I love hearing from you Diego is that you kind of learn pretty quickly here. Hey, there's something ain't working out. I got to get some I gotta get some cash coming. I like doing this and we're going to take care of that. I mean I got to get some cash coming in.
We got to get to move in sooner. Yeah, because cash is king when you have a business, you know.
Cash flow is King.
Okay. Well, I guess you know, I guess cash cash is king of cash is King cash flow is the almighty. Okay. All right. All right. He's the big guy. Okay. So what so what's your vision here? Where do you where you envision your plumbing business here in the next year three years five years
Here we go.
Here we go, brother.
So I don't know if you guys have been following this in the industry or not. But there's been some Senate hearings on government privatized housing, right? It's really ran down and stuff like that and five of the largest land companies and property management companies purchased those from the government a while back years ago. And right now Alphalete has opportunity to start traveling all over the nation to inspect these houses. And with inspection on these government housing comes service that's going to be needed. You know, so honestly, you know, I got really great connections in that market with our government, you know contractors. So that's where I see the business going in three to five years. The next year? I see our service department up and running full speed I can step away from the business and the business runs itself because ultimately is a business owner. That is the success of a business when I can leave and come back and operations are still up and running Without Me In the Mix. That's my goal for the next year.
That's it right there. That's he just said it. That's it right there. That is the goal that that's that's what it's all about. Doesn't matter how many dollars you have coming through? And what all you're doing, you got to be able to leave the business, you know, you got to be a leave for a month and come back and everything is still thriving, you know, you could… right if you can do that. You got something. All right security freedom and money if it's doing that you're making money too let me tell you you're making money. Oh man. Love it right crazy thought making money with your plumbing business. That's a crazy thought again crazy here. Facebook's going to shut us down. You know we're talking this is a revolution. All right. Okay.
A plumbing Revolution?
There we go. And hey guys, there's plenty of room. I love I love Diego hearing you saying Nationwide and let me tell you there's plenty of room. Is plenty guys we have a great industry. There is plenty of room robots AI isn't going to take our jobs. Okay, all this stuff needs to know the plumbing. In fact, it's getting you mentioned government stuff Diego, you know plumbing is getting more regulated. And so you have to be they want the license guys and all that and controlling it more and more and more that just that's that's more and more opportunity so.
Everybody needs a plumber, man.
Always. loved it brother love it man. Great stuff. Well, man. Hey one got a question here before I let you go because I got a this would be good. I know you're going to have something good here. All right, what what's the best advice that you've ever received or some advice? You want to want to share with us?
The best advice is really took in a few parts and dialed into one simple thing and one saying that I live my life by in that I preach to my people and the people around me. Is if you believe it you will achieve it now, there's more parts to that. If you believe it you manifest it you work hard and you never give up no matter what obstacle no matter what mountain you're climbing no matter what issues or problems arise you will achieve it. Believe it. You will achieve it change your mind. You'll change your life.
Amen brother. All right, man. Come on. Give me a fist bump and we do is who I am. Oh man. Love you brother. That is good stuff. That is the right attitude guys. That that is the right attitude there. I'm sure what you know, we don't time to go in and say everything and I'm sure Diego that you admit that every day is not a walk in the park.
Everyday… I say this all the time. I mean, it's just it's not all sunshine and rainbows. No, it's a constant struggle. It's a it's a constant battle. But if you never give up and you believe never will achieve it and I just got to give a shout out to my team here give it if you're wanting to expand and grow as a business. You have to build a solid team.
You have to pick the right people and put them in the right positions to set your business up to succeed. Now, if you want to be a one-man truck one man shop, that's fine, you know, but yeah with me I want to grow to I just want to keep growing and growing and growing. And my team, Is the the heart of what a successful business is I want to give a shout out to my team each and every one of individuals whether you're an apprentice operations manager. I love you guys, man. And I thank you guys on the daily so much gratitude for my team, man. So Amen brother shout out to my team because without them. None of this would be possible.
Love it man. Love it. Amen. That's so true. Well Diego man good stuff man loves love having you on the program here. Thank you for your time.
Yeah. Well, well, we may be talking here in just a few minutes. I hope honey when you got nothing going on here. So we're going to be we're going to be talking there but mad love having you on potty talk live. Thank you for being for transparent and being on. And being as such an inspiration, man, all right.
There we go Diego Lujan. All right owner of Alphalete Plumbing, Colorado Springs, Colorado man, great stuff there. I mean a true inspiration guys you get that. I know he be you know, I think we're talking to me beforehand. I think even says something to look if I can do it anyone can do it and that's what you heard that before and I can I say the same if I can do it you can do it.
Alphalete Plumbing is a licensed and insured full-service plumbing contractor serving Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas. We install, service, repair and replace water heaters, toilets, sinks, boilers, water softeners, water purifying systems, and much more. We offer service in Colorado Springs, Monument, Peyton, Larkspur, Fountain, Pueblo, Woodland Park, and the greater Pikes Peak region.
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