News: Abbotsford – Jakel Plumbing/Heating (Business of the Year -2022)

Transcriber: Stan:

Surnames: Jakel, Streckert, Hutman, Uhlig, Wesle

----Source: Tribune-Phonograph (Abbotsford, WI) 06 Apr 2022

While some folks are lucky enough to be born to a certain profession, taking over family practices and businesses, others must find their fields.

But finding a skill is not enough to make a successful business happen, and running a business that can withstand the test of time is even rarer.

This is all the more reason why Jakel Plumbing, Heating and Electrical, Inc. is a worthy recipient of the 2022 AbbyColby Crossings Chamber of Commerce business of the year award. Paul and his wife Jean Jakel started the business in that time honored tradition - in a garage, way back in 1993.

These days the business has outgrown those humble origins and now covers multiple facilities on the edge of Abbotsford, and includes nearly a dozen employees and a fleet of vehicles.

“I started in garage, like Tom Streckert and a lot of people,” Jakel says.

But a decade into the business, Jakel found his garage just wasn’t big enough to keep up with the demands of the work. So, in 2002 Jakel expanded his facility, and built his shop in its current location at 800 West Business 29 in Abbotsford.

A few years after that, Jakel expanded yet again, building another shop a few hundred feet away from the office.

“I don’t like to brag about it,” Jakel says. “But we do have a nice shop, we certainly do.”

Around 2017, Paul’s business took another big step, purchasing Pat and John Hutman’s Lennox inventory.

“We were pleasantly surprised at how much it added to our company,” Jakel replied.

Jakel is a man of few words, but great action, and when people approached him to work on projects, he sensed an opportunity and made the most out of it.

“It seemed like I had a lot of people asking me to do stuff,” Jakel said on the decision to start his own business. “The area down here was kind of open between Marshfield and Medford, and someone needed to do the work, so I just did it.”

Of course, before Jakel could start his own business he had to gain experience. He found an interest in plumbing from working on and installing pipelines in milk machines, and that led him to his apprenticeship as a plumber, beginning in the early 1980’s.

“I used to put milk machines in, pipelines that sort of thing, and I liked that part of it, so I did my schooling and the apprenticeship,” Jakel says.

“I did a plumbing apprenticeship in Medford with Bob Kramer and Dave Zimmermann. Bob’s not alive anymore, but Dave’s one of my closer colleagues. We talk quite a bit, at least once a week.”

Over the years Jakel Plumbing and Heating has done work ranging from residential plumbing to HVAC and electrical installation to commercial builds and large dairy farms.

A big reason is Jakel’s local roots. A native of Curtiss, Jakel has been a lifelong resident of central Wisconsin. Not that means he’s not afraid to travel for the work, or that the work is purely small scale projects.

“I’ve been in Dubuque, Iowa, and Houghton, Mich., and all over the state. I did WeatherShield’s five acre, two story building up in Park Falls. Then we did assisted livings all over the state. We did three wings of the Medford Hospital, which is huge for a company like ours.”

It’s a testament to his craft that Jakel’s company is known for their quality, and as he describes his business, it’s with the sort of words that any good company becomes successful. “It’s a good company, it’s an educational company. It’s a profitable one, and certainly independent.”

Jakel Heating, Plumbing and Electrical, Inc. has quietly built up its reputation of the back of hard work and quality work. It’s also done its share of giving back, donating to The Highground Veteran’s Memorial, Camp Victory, as well as local churches and schools and other charitable causes.

That giving nature, longevity and quality of work made it a perfect choice for Business of the Year, an honor that Jakel is happy to receive.

“Thanks!” Jakel says with a smile and his direct way. “29 years, ya know? It means the people really were watching.”

It’s no secret that for a business to truly grow it needs excellent employees. Part of what has made Jakel so successful over the year has been the work he has given in teaching others the trade.

Over the past three decades Jakel has been in business, he has had multiple apprentices learn from him.

“I did nine apprentices over time,” he says. “It takes five years to get through, and I did nine of them. So I did put something back.

“Jakel Plumbing has put nine apprentices through apprenticeships. We currently have two on board now. Education is a big part of our company, and if someone leaves the company, we make sure they have the knowledge and tools to service.”

Jakel has had numerous employees spend years working for Jakel Plumbing, like Ruth Uhlig, who recently retired after 29 years, or Bob Wesle, who has spent twenty years with the company. Other long time employees include Shane Hammel and his 27 years, Ben Way and his 18 years and Nate Jakel, who has 17 official years under his belt, though according to Paul, “has been working for his dad since the age of 12.”

The Jakels also have to acknowledge the work of Paul’s brother, Tom, who worked with the company for 26 years. Those employees, Jakel says, are the real reason Jakel Plumbing has withstood the ups and downs of the past 29 years.

“Jakel Plumbing’s employees are the company’s biggest and most valuable asset.”

But even as Paul has taught others the trade, he continues to learn and holds many licenses in areas too numerous to list. He’s become a master plumber, master electrician, soil tester lead safe renovator, Cross Connection control tester and much, much more.

At 64, Paul has no desire to slow down just yet. There’s still work to be done, and he still enjoys the satisfaction of a job done well.

“Retirement?” Jakel asks. “Not in the picture right now, but looking ahead I’d like to retire. But I still like getting up and coming to work in the morning.”




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