The Perils Of Partnering In A Plumbing Business You Do Not Control

Subsurface News
July 13, 2012

by David Balkan

Cover plumber

Much has been written about NYC Licensed Master Plumbers taking silent partnerships or covering for unlicensed plumbers. What has not been made apparent is the very special issues and inherent risks that arise when a LMP enters into such an agreement with an unlicensed subsurface plumbing firm. Any firm attempting to secure a NYC DOT and NYC DEP permit to perform sewer or water main work must have controlling interest by a LMP. For some Licensed Master Plumbers the lure of entering into such an agreement is a steady weekly salary for performing no work, having no responsibility with how the firm is run, or the consequences with any liabilities – But is that really so?

Most times a Licensed Master Plumber ‘covering’ a subsurface plumbing company has no control over the operation, is not on premises, is not on job sites, and has little idea of the state of the company. Why should they know what’s going on? They’re only covering the operation.

Cover plumberBesides the obvious downside in terms of quality control, abiding by code, ethics, and damaging one’s reputation, there are some very serious consequences as well. Every NYC DOT Permittee has a bond on file typically for $100,000.00 to $250,000.00. As summonses are issued and defects in workmanship arise the bond covers the possibility of none-response by the Permittee – Something a cover plumber would not know the status of. In a number of cases the ‘cover plumber’ has been left with a liability that far exceeds any income they ever received. In addition a LMP cannot renew their license until all outstanding fines, penalties, and interest are paid up – Some subsurface plumbing firms owe hundreds of thousands of dollars. When you cover a company you are taking on that burden.

There is a reason why some subsurface firms change their name frequently, and change the Licensed Master Plumber that ‘owns‘ the firm. A name-change should not necessarily raise a red flag, but to do so every couple of years most certainly should. To make a few thousand dollars, just to lose a few hundred thousand dollars and sully your reputation at the same time seems to make little sense. It is documented that a number of NYC Licensed Master Plumbers have been unable to renew their licenses due to unpaid NYC DOT fines and penalties. These Plumbers risked and lost their reputation, their credit worthiness, and their livelihood.

Trade Associations And The NYC Plumbing Industry

Membership in a Trade Association is a good sign that the professional you are considering hiring is devoted to their trade and being at the forefront of current code requirements and rule changes. Likewise membership in a trade association provides many benefits to a licensed tradesmen who who wish to keep abreast of changes in their industry and have a say in the future of their industry. Two long established trade associations for licensed plumbing firms in the City of New York are the Master Plumber Council and the Subsurface Plumbers Association.

The Master Plumbers Council is one of the oldest plumbing trade associations in the entire United States, dating back to 1889.The present New York City Master Plumbers Council was established by combining the Queens County Master Plumbers Association and the Kings County Master Plumbers Association. We represent licensed plumbers and their firms throughout the entire NYC metro area.

The Master Plumbers Council of the City of New York, Inc. (the “MPC”) is a professional trade association whose membership consists of licensed master plumbers and their affiliates in the City of New York. The MPC strives to promote the licensed plumbing industry and the benefits of hiring a licensed and insured firm. In addition we provide education and clarification on a wide assortment of code issues. This not only benefits the trade, but all NYC property owners who are concerned about a legal and safe plumbing installation.

Through committees, the Master Plumbers Council meets regularly with various city agencies related to plumbing work (Department of Buildings Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Transportation, to name a few). These meetings provide a platform by which our members have an outlet for clarification on rules governing the way in which they do work. Our members have dedicated countless hours to committee work, code revisions and illegal practices, and are justly recognized throughout professional circles in NYC. Members of the Master Plumbers Council of the City of New York also serve on the Master Plumbers and Master Fire Suppression Piping Contractors License Board and the Department of Buildings Operational Subcommittee. For those licensed plumbers who are dedicated and devoted to their chosen and honorable trade we suggest you contact us for more information about the Master Plumbers Council.

Subsurface Plumbers Association

The Subsurface Plumbers Association of New York City consists of licensed plumbing firms specializing in the performance of sewer and water main installation, replacements, repairs, upgrades, and all other associated underground plumbing work.

For over 40 years SPANY has kept its membership up-to-date on all current and pending government rules, codes and legislation. In addition SPANY provides a forum to keep abreast of new industry developments such as new installation methods and job-site safety issues. With its close affiliation with the Master Plumbers Council of the City of New York, the two associations provide a full range of services to the plumbing industry. The Subsurface Plumbers Association is respected by both NYC government agencies and the subsurface industry.

Dedicated Committee Work

The Subsurface Plumbers Association works tirelessly through its four formal Committees:
• The Department of Transportation Committee.
• The Department of Environmental Protection Committee.
• The Department of Buildings Committee.
• The Plumbing Technical Committee.

By utilizing these committees the association ensures that the licensed sewer and water main trade of NYC has representation and frequently acts as an advocate on behalf of the general public as well in regards to related issues. To keep abreast of issues the SPANY holds regular monthly membership meetings, and actively attends government agency meetings and public hearings related to the industry.

Membership In The MPC Or The SPA

Applicants for membership are closely screened to ensure that they are in complete compliance regarding proper licensing, insurance, bonding, and that they are in good standing within the NYC plumbing industry. Acceptance as a member is an honor and a privilege as well as a good indication of a reputable company devoted to it’s chosen trade.

The Master Plumbers Council Of The City Of New York
The Subsurface Plumbers Association of NYC
104-09 Metropolitan Avenue
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Angela Cappiello, CMP CAE
Executive Director
718 793-6300
Get A Free Quote
David Balkan

David Balkan is the CEO of Balkan Sewer And Water Main, the largest and most trusted service in New York City. David is extremely active in various NYC plumber organizations being the Chairman of the Subsurface Committee in the Master Plumbers Council, and Vice President of the Subsurface Plumbers Association. In addition David’s expertise is respected by officials of New York City agencies such as the NYC DEP, NYC DOB, and the NYC DOT. He frequently provides valuable input on a variety of industry related matters.

Dave Balkan

Ready to Get Your Sewer or Water Main Issue Fixed?

Get An Instant Quote
  • We manage every project from start to finish
  • We work quickly with instant quotes & rapid responses
  • We are licensed as a Master Plumber
  • Our GPS fleet ensures we are on time, every time
  • We are available 24/7 for emergencies
  • We back all replacements with a 10-year unconditional guarantee