P.A.C.'s Flowing Pipes

How One Family Business is Making a Splash

P.A.C.’s Flowing Pipes: How One Family Business is Making a Splash

Living on Staten Island, I’m sure you are already familiar with P.A.C. Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning. Now let’s get to know the Campione family, the owners behind this notorious full-service company.

In this exclusive interview we sit down with father and son, Paul and Eric Campione to learn more about their journey from humble beginnings and hardships to becoming a successful family-owned business. They share insights into the many challenges they faced, the lessons they learned along the way and the importance of perseverance.

Staten Island City Lifestyle: For those who may not already know a bit about your business, can you describe what P.A.C. does and the services you provide?

Eric Campione: We are a plumbing, heating and air conditioning service company. We basically do maintenance, service and installs for homes. Mostly residential and some commercial. We also do water purification, drain cleaning and indoor air quality. We service mainly Staten Island and New Jersey.

Staten Island City Lifestyle: Do you want to tell us about how you started the business?

Paul Campione: I came home from the service in 1969. I decided to get into plumbing since my father and uncle were both in the field. I started working for a plumbing company and got into the union. I did a 5-year apprenticeship program and I went from an apprentice to a journeyman to a foreman to a supervisor. In 1978 my father was separating from his business partner and since I had my plumbing license we got together and formed the family business. In 1993 my father retired and I added air conditioning services to the business. We had a family tragedy and then Eric came in and re-modeled the company.

Eric Campione: We had grown very large. When I came out of college my dad was one of the top Local 1 employers in the city. When I graduated in 2008, it was the worst possible time to look for a job. I was already working for the business since I was 15-years old. We had a lot of city funded projects. We, unfortunately, had a tragedy in early 2011 and two of my brothers passed away in a car accident while we were driving upstate. It took a huge toll on our family and we were in a position where we didn’t know what to do or where to turn. We had 60 employees working in the field and an entire office full of people and my dad was put in a difficult position because he didn’t want to give up on them but at the same time found it hard to go on. At the same time, the economy was crushing the construction market. There wasn’t much work and many union salaries had to be paid. We had just won a massive project at that time and felt that we would be creating economic suicide by taking on the job. We had to go back to our client and tell them that it was impossible for us to handle it at that time. A lot of companies thought we were going bankrupt and stopped paying us. I was 23-years old at the time and I worked pretty crazy hours from about 7am until 1am, but I gained a lot of field experience quickly. We were in a downward spiral, unable to pay our bills and knocking on death’s door as far as going out of business.

Paul Campione: We were in a bad situation, psychologically as well as monetarily. We couldn’t think straight as you can imagine. We reached out to SCORE (a business counseling service on Staten Island) and John Amodio, a friend of ours who knew the situation came in and brought the whole company together. He created what was called P.A.C. is BACK. He designed the management system for us, an organizational chart, he helped us to get money from the bank and he inspired us. He helped everyone to believe that this was going to be a new beginning. Life started to come back to the company. Eric really stepped up and re-branded the company. We have employees that have been with us for 25 years. My wife, Ingrid was with me from day one when we first started working at the kitchen table going through debits and credits. In 1980 we brought computers into the business and we were one of the first. Ingrid was great at getting that going. We kept progressing as time went on. We have coaches and organizations that we are part of to stay current and elevate our business.

Staten Island City Lifestyle: As far as marketing goes, do you want to tell us how your marketing strategies have helped you over the years?

Paul Campione: We hired an advertising agency to give us our logo which was a pipe with a rag tied around it and a leak and it said “Call Paul.” It was on the back of our trucks and we had 6 billboards around Staten Island, we had ads in the newspaper and we kept pushing. The marketing techniques were exceptional. Peter Garcia would come in and take everyone’s opinion in the office and choose the best form of advertising. There is a saying that goes “Innovate or Stagnate” and you don’t want to stagnate so you got to keep going.

Eric Campione: In addition to that, we focus so heavily on customer service and serving our client at the highest level at all times. It’s the biggest thing that we preach. Our 3 core values are: Powerful as a Team, Always Serving and Champion Reputation. We believe if you follow those 3 things and make sure that your customer service is always exceptional you will always make money. That’s something that sets us apart from the competition. When we re-focused our business we wanted to focus on the clients that helped us and supported us and provide them with the best service.

Paul Campione: We don’t sell anything, our job is to make you comfortable with the technician. We’re here to build relationships. With the mother, the father, the grandmother, the grandfather, the children, the children’s wives, their children and on and on. To me it’s like going out to a restaurant, I like to go out to eat and have a couple of drinks and I have my favorite restaurants. When I sit down someplace they know right away what I want to drink and that’s service to me. With our employees, it’s the same thing they build a relationship throughout the job. Connecting with the customer is very important.

Staten Island City Lifestyle: Are there any books you can recommend to young entrepreneurs?

Eric Campione: There are so many. The first one without a doubt is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Your Next 5 Moves is also a great recommendation if you’re doing any business planning.

Paul Campione: Work Smarter, Not Harder by Dale Carnegie is another great one. See You at the Top is also a good one by Zig Ziglar. The most important thing is being able to get up after you fall, business isn’t all fun and games. When we first started it was a rough path for us, I used to get daily inspirations about God and life and the troubles you have. Those also helped me to breathe easier.

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