River City Six – Kevin Dai
Meet Kevin Dai, director of commercial operations at Big Birge Plumbing Co. (www.bigbirgeplumbing.com)
Tell us a little about your business.
The commercial division at Big Birge Plumbing specializes in completing any type of commercial project whether it be a remodel or new building. We are capable of plumbing schools, restaurants, multifamily dwellings—basically any project we can get our hands on while also holding true to the core values of Big Birge: Honesty, quality, and American craftsmanship.
How did you get started in the business?
I’m in the 19th year of my plumbing career. A good majority has been spent running commercial projects as a foreman/project manager. Initially, when I started with Big Birge Plumbing, we only did service and residential remodel plumbing. However, as we grew and our resources and manpower expanded, it seemed only natural we jump into the commercial market.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?
Finding good quality craftsmen and women to keep up with the workload. In this economy, finding work is fairly simple. However, due to the shortfall in the skilled labor force, especially in the skilled trades finding plumbers who are already trained has been challenging. We are lucky to have the crew that we have currently.
What has been your most important achievement professionally?
Teaching my apprentices and watching them turn into journeymen and foremen. I do not believe there is a more important part of my job. When my men learn and become better craft professionals, it makes them more valuable in their life while also making Big Birge more profitable, benefitting everyone.
Tell us a little about your family.
I have been married to my wife Christy for 13 years. She is my teammate in life and the glue that holds my family together. We have two daughters, Kaycie and Kinley, and a son, Brody. They are my everything.
What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life?
When I made the decision to join Big Birge Plumbing. At the time, the company was very small. It was just three of us and my wife was just starting nursing school. It was a pretty big, risky step for my family…but completely worth it!
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
Go to my family’s lake. My kids like wakeboarding and tubing, so I enjoy driving the boat and making those fun memories with them.
Who inspires you?
My father. He is an honest, hardworking, middle-class American man. He did whatever it took to support his family and put food on the table. Through good times and bad, his leadership in my family was steady. He was our rock; we all knew to do what he expected of us and we always knew his love for us was unwavering.
What is your favorite quote or the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
You give a poor man a fish, you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish, you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.
If you could choose only one descriptive word to be remembered as, what would it be?
If you could have a super power, what would it be?
To slow down time…my kids are growing up too fast!
If you could choose any other profession to be successful in, what would it be?
I was younger I wanted to be in law enforcement.
What is your favorite TV show?
Game of Thrones.
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