“When my family and I visited Flagstaff in 1997, my uncle, Ruben, offered me a job at his plumbing business,” he said. “At the time, I was working at Smith Pipe and Supply as an irrigation warehouse manager in Oxnard, California. My kids were young and I thought Flagstaff would be a good city to raise them in. So, we moved here.”
After working for his uncle’s business for five years, Ontiveros took ownership in 2002. His chromatic purple, gold and white vans can be spotted throughout Flagstaff boasting the tagline “meeting urgent needs.”
“They do the work no one else wants to do,” said Granite Mountain Accounting co-owner, Tricia Baker. “I worked for Gabriel for almost eight years as his office manager. He is such a great person and he is always willing to help others. If they need a hand up, he has his hand out to help them – a good quality. If they need work, he is willing to teach them the trade.”
Currently, Royal Plumbing and Rooter Services has 18 employees. “We started with one van and we now have six,” said Ontiveros.
Jeff Taylor has worked for three years as a service technician. “I like the environment. It’s not what I’m used to in a normal corporate world. It’s very laid back but professional; it’s like a small family. The guys are pretty close and the work is constant, so it keeps everybody busy. An awesome place to work.”
Ontiveros shares his “fish story” as his funniest job. “I went to a resident’s house for a clogged toilet,” he recalled. “The tenant insisted he had no idea why the toilet was clogged. When I ran the auger, I pulled out a fish. I then noticed an empty fish tank. He confessed to trying to flush the fish down the toilet.”
“Gabe has been our in-house plumber for a couple decades,” said Salsa Brava and Fat Olives Owner John Conley. “He’s Johnny on the spot – quick to get out and does a stellar job.”
Recently, his daughter, Amber, joined the team as bookkeeper and Ontiveros’s son, Joshua, has worked for the company for most of his life. Ontiveros’s brother-in-law, Renee, is also on the Royal Plumbing team.
“Dad would have me hold the flashlight when I was a kid,” said Joshua Ontiveros with a chuckle. “But I’ve worked here seriously since I was 18. I love it here, especially helping customers. Some have been with us from the beginning. It’s been a blessing and a great business.”
With three grown children and five grandchildren, Ontiveros keeps busy. His wife, Nora, is an executive assistant with Unisource Energy Services. They enjoy spending time with their grandchildren and traveling.
Best advice I’ve ever received: Develop a healthy self-image and see yourself the way God sees you. That quote would be from my dad.
The last time I was starstruck: My son, Josh, and I ran into Frankie Muniz, he’s the “Malcolm in The Middle” star. He lives in Phoenix, so we saw him at a basketball game. We ran into him going up the stairs and we were able to take a picture with him. He was very cordial and a down-to-earth person.
What I would do with an extra day this week, no demands and unlimited funds: I would fly to see my mother in Oxnard as a surprise and spend a day with her and the family.
Business tip I’d offer to a young entrepreneur: I would say, fail forward. Don’t give up. Learn from your failures, press forward and doors will open.
The secret to a successful life: Just like baking a cake, there are many ingredients, but the ingredient I like the most is, “live to give.” FBN
By Ronnie V. Tierney, FBN
Royal Plumbing & Rooter Services can be contacted at 928-526-3659.