Plumbing in pink – M. Cary & Daughters
By: Lauren Ragland
Mitchel Cary of M. Cary & Daughters Plumbing sprinkled our conversation with personal truths.
The business: “We don’t need to be the biggest. We just want to be the best.” The service: “We give our clients 100 percent and turn around and give them 10 percent more.” The family: “I truly treasure my family.” The wife: “She is my girlfriend of 50 years.”
And he said, “If it’s not fun, don’t do it.” Mitchel’s success is echoed throughout the clean pipes and unclogged sewers of Decatur. With business trademarks that include female plumbers in prom dresses hoisting ten-pound pipe wrenches, this family-owned business has the market cornered on quirky plumbing advertising.
The tongue-in-cheek marketing distinguishes M. Cary & Daughters Plumbing. Open the lid, so to speak, on the business and you see the fun involves much more than creative homages to Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” For Mitchel and his daughters, fun is absolute commitment to the job, mastering their trade, and getting their hands dirty.
Mitchel’s daughter Melissa, a master plumber said, “I like everything about plumbing. I love it. Absolutely everything. The smells, the dirt, the crawl spaces, the mud, the doo doo. We love it, and then we go to lunch.”
With over 30 years in operation in Decatur, M. Cary & Daughters have become known as the plumbers’ go-to plumbers. It wasn’t always that way. When Mitchel and his wife, Ronnalee, moved to Atlanta in 1978, no one would hire him.
One day, Ronnalee bought a stack of index cards and wrote on them Plumber from New York looking for work. They placed the cards in laundry mats and gas stations all around town. The phone started ringing and business took off. Mitchel, who had worked exclusively on cast iron pipes in New York, had no trouble tackling the plastic pipes. Word quickly got around.
Mitchel’s business turned into a family business, though in the beginning, his daughters, Melissa and Michelle, had ulterior motives. They joined him not for love of cleaning sewers but a desire to own Jordache. At ages 8 and 10, they begged for the $50 designer jeans.
Mitchel handed each $25 and said they’d have to earn the other half by coming to work with him on the weekends. It turned out they loved learning their father’s trade. And they were having fun, too.
The two girls were only in high school when Mitchel realized they might actually become his long-term business partners. On career day, both announced to their classmates that they wanted to be plumbers when they got older. Of course, the kids laughed but the girls’ determination didn’t waver.
At the start of her career, Melissa would come home in tears. “The guys would pick on me, make fun of me. They told me it was a joke. I’ve heard everything from ‘M. Cary’s daughters don’t really work’ to ‘He doesn’t even have daughters.’”
Over the years, that all changed. Melissa said, “Today, they [other plumbers] call us when they have a problem they can’t fix.”
Melissa said her family has succeeded because of, “An innate need to make people happy.”
“Those of us that are really successful at this, we take that to heart,” she said.