The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “altruism” as “the unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others.” While this certainly describes people who volunteer, there are many other reasons why people volunteer. Meeting others, making contacts for possible employment, developing an additional skill set, having fun – these are not exactly altruistic reasons, even if they are a by-product of volunteering.
My entire life I was pushed to study computers and technology. When I was in college in New York, I was an IT guy for a small business. When I moved to California, I found a tech support job for a software company. There I was, following along on my technical career track, when on an outside support job for a plumbing wholesale distributor, I began to find myself fascinated by faucets.
Like many people, I’d always thought, “What is there to a faucet? You turn it on, you turn it off. The water is hot, the water is cold.” Clearly, I didn’t know anything.
During these on-site tech support trips, I began to have conversations with the owner of the plumbing wholesale company about plumbing fixtures. I was amazed by how much there was to know about decorative plumbing. I became obsessed with it and wanted to change the water delivery system from that day onwards!
At that time, my computer geek life was pretty miserable, and I had decided to go back to New York to seek better opportunities. When I told the owner of the plumbing wholesale company my plan, he offered me a position: a position that didn’t even exist, but luckily he saw something in me that made him keep me in his employ for almost a year, doing everything and anything that had to do with plumbing fixtures.
My boss and his partner had always wanted to have a truly high-end faucet company with a product that was manufactured in the U.S. They had the capability and resources to do it, they just needed the person to run it. When all the pieces fell into place, they decided that I was that person.
By working on our first four complete lines from A-Z for about four years before we launched the brand, I learned a lot about plumbing fixtures. It was an amazing experience to see an idea becoming a reality on the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines. Now I was part of a process, making a product and knowing that it would be used every day.
I love knowing that something I’ve made is so useful. Making plumbing fixtures is like writing a computer program; it’s a tool that needs a benefit. You need to know your audience, the tool needs to be user-friendly and, in both cases, you have to install it.