A new life.
Nicholas Verkhoturtsev’s story starts in his hometown of Ural—everybody calls it Siberia—Russia. In 2002, Nicholas graduated from Law State University with a Bachelor’s degree. That same year, a company Nicholas worked for as a lawyer, purchased a plumbing company and Nicholas became co-owner of that company.
Teaching law at the University and working on his Master’s degree seemed to be the career path he set for himself. “I didn’t do anything in that plumbing company; I just controlled its finances, but I paid attention and learned their work, skills and knowledge,” says Nicholas.
In the meantime, with increasing corruption in Russia, Nicholas became disenchanted and bored with law so he turned to plumbing. “I got interested in plumbing because I liked it as a field where everything depended on my skills and knowledge, not on other people—judges, prosecutors, government people etc.—or how much money I bring them under the table. Yes, I would make more money if I stayed in law, but I fell in love with plumbing because of that independence,” says Nicholas.
He created a plumbing company and hired the guys from the company he controlled previously. “I continued to learn their plumbing skills and did all paper work and management of operations. In 2003-2004, I started to do all work myself and fired the guys who worked for me. Most of my jobs in Russia was residential, but I did some big projects such as a water park—the radiant heating system with mixing and pump units, used 18 miles of PEX pipe—an auto dealership—radiant heating system with climate control, for example,” says Nicholas.
Nicholas soon realized that growing and developing his plumbing business looked grim, and any outlook for making his family’s life better looked increasingly bleak, “because of huge corruption, a sputtering economy and terrible politics by fucking Putin and his people,” says Nicholas.
What was supposed to be a planned vacation to the United States turned out to be a lifetime commitment. “I tried to change things by becoming a peaceful political protester in my home city, but with very bad results. I ultimately decided to move to the U.S., got all of the necessary documents, and did it.”
Upon arriving in the United States, Nicholas worked for David Hesson, and for the past five weeks has been working for Robbie Mann at A. Mann Plumbing LTD, Centerburg, Ohio, as a tech for residential and commercial plumbing and hydronic heating systems, service plumbing and drain cleaning. “I am very happy to be a part of their team,” says Nicholas.
While growing in the trades and starting his own plumbing business in Russia, Nicholas didn’t have any mentors, really. But, according to Nicholas, “I would call Eric Aune a friend and mentor; I learned a lot from him on Instagram while I worked in Russia.”
Now in the states he’s learned from Hesson, and his current teachers and mentors, Robbie Mann and Mark Starkey. “Every hour, every minute when I work with them I gain knowledge and skills. And, they always answer my stupid questions,” jokes Nicholas.
The Next Generation
Nicholas does express concern about the future of the trades. “I don’t see many young people who are ready to grow and learn things in plumbing, here is the USA and Russia.” And, from what Nicholas has seen is that plumbing in America is always growing. The importance of the trades has never been more evident than in these uncertain times of the pandemic. “After fucking Covid starts, we are getting more service calls. Covid just proves plumbing is as necessary ever,” says Nicholas.
“We all need to reach to people, young people and make them able to realize that plumbing is an essential job, a necessary job, and that people can’t live without water, heating and waste management.”
Nicholas’s advice to those entering the trades? “Learn everything yourself; learn more than you should know. When you start to work in plumbing, do more than you should do and don’t wait for someone to give you skills and knowledge. Just get all this yourself.”
Me Time, Social Media
In his spare time Nicholas continues to learn plumbing, and he reads American plumbing codes. As well I do some exercises on my knees and back. That is what plumbers need. And, according to Nicholas, balancing family/work life is sharing every concern, every thought, every action about your work with your spouse. Your family should know every detail of your work life. “In my opinion, it helps find necessary time for your family.”
Social media has been instrumental in Nicholas’s growth, as well. He has found many of his current friends in the states on the social media platform. “A couple of my best friends from Instagram are Eric Aune and my boss Robbie Mann. Eric has always supported me, and when I arrived in the U.S., he sent me a bunch of tools which I’m still been using every day,” says Nicholas (@installer.nicholas). “I think Instagram is the best network to share work, knowledge and skills. And sharing these things is a way to find people who understand you totally.”
The last time Nicholas said, “Today is a great day”? It’s hard to say, says Nicholas. “In plumbing I enjoy results done perfectly; when everything is perfect, especially systems water flow and efficiency. Sometimes I even lose time/money to get something perfect, but I do it to enjoy the result … to enjoy my life, finally.