The Plumber of City Park

Wayne Encalarde, owner of WJE, LLC, lives by a plumber’s maxim that he learned years ago at his father’s knee, “The shittier the job the more money it pays.”

“My father did a bit of plumbing when I was young and I’d help out,” he said. “In junior high, he had a particularly nasty job. I said, ‘There ain’t no way I can do this.’ But he promised if I could endure it for a couple of days he’d pay me well when we were done. And he did, I got $500. That was a lot of money back then for a kid in junior high.”

Encalarde took to plumbing and learned all he could working with his father. He eventually took all the licensing tests and became a plumber. Encalarde then stopped working for his father and started his own business 25 years ago. It’s a family business that now includes two sons, three brothers and two nephews. His son, Blake, who holds a master’s of fine arts in poetry, is now doing a home study apprenticeship with the company and feels working for the business is dharma.

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“I’m doing the right thing for the right person,” he says.

Wayne Encalarde has come a long way from the days he carried his tools in the trunk of the Dodge Aspen his mother-in-law gave him. Each year will vary but he said there are years he’s grossed $400,000. 

Encalarde built his business doing mostly residential jobs but now he just primarily does commercial jobs.  However, he still does work for some of his old regulars. It’s important to him to stay loyal to those clients who helped establish his business.

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“They got me to where I am today,” he said. “I’ll come over whenever they call. I still have the keys to their houses. And if it’s something small, I don’t even charge them. I just say, ‘I’ll catch you next time.’”

One of his favorite clients nowadays is New Orleans City Park, where he does regular maintenance and emergencies. He even has a master key that opens all the locks in the park.

“I really, really, really like working in the park,” he said. “It’s such a beautiful place to work and they’re just so easy to work for and professional.”

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Encalarde’s been a plumber for most of his life and still loves the challenge of his career. He likes doing the diagnostics — figuring out what’s going on and knowing how to fix it.

“People panic when they have raw sewage pouring out everywhere but they really panic when water is shooting out,” he said. “If the job’s nasty we just put on our gear and do what we gotta do.”

He says he’ll always have job security. “Everybody uses the bathroom and everybody wants it to move,” says Encalarde. “And I keep it moving. And when it’s nasty I just say, ‘It smells like dollars.’”

 

WJE, LLC Mechanical Contractors
4440 Franklin Ave
New Orleans, Louisiana
Call (504) 439-0098

 

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