For company founder Harold Schuler, plumbing has been an integral part of his life since he was twelve years old. That’s when his family first installed plumbing in their Kansas farmhouse.
One of twelve children, Harold and his siblings were accustomed to using an outhouse during the day and thunder mugs—containers kept under the bed—when nature called at night. During the summer months, bathing was accomplished outdoors in a #9 washtub, which, during the winter, was placed in front of the kitchen’s wood cook stove for heat. A windmill pumped well water into the 500-gallon tank that supplied the farm’s water, but when the wind wasn’t blowing Harold and his siblings had to pump the well by hand.
Harold’s older brother worked for a plumber in a nearby town, which is how it came to be that the Schuler home said good-bye to the outhouse and hello to indoor plumbing. Fascinated with the installation process, Harold assisted his brother and the plumber as much as they would allow. “The first thing we installed in the house was the kitchen sink, complete with cold running water that drained outside,” Harold said. “Watching the transformation really made an impression on me.”
During his teenage years, Harold worked for the same plumber that his brother had previously assisted. In 1963, Harold moved to Oklahoma City and went to work for a plumbing company that gave him the opportunity to go to trade school, where he obtained his journeyman’s license. He subsequently obtained his contractor’s license and founded Schuler Plumbing and Gas Fitting Company in the horse barn behind his home in Moore.
For the next twenty-five years, Harold established a solid base of residential customers who valued his honest work ethic, professional standards, and fair prices. In turn, these customers told others about Harold. By 2002, Harold Schuler had more work than he and his young apprentice could handle.
For several years a friend had been telling Harold he needed to meet a man named Russell Thorp who not only was an experienced plumber, but who also had extensive knowledge of the building trade. After their initial meeting over coffee at Starbucks, it was clear that Harold and Russell both shared not only the same plumbing values, but also the common goal of providing quality work for their customers.
Russell joined Schuler Enterprises in 2003 with a focus on growing the company’s commercial business and expanding into general contracting—and that’s just what happened. By mid-2010, the company had added employees, vehicles, and new customers to the point that Harold’s wife told him, “Honey, I think it’s time for you to switch places with Russell.” And so he did.
A New Direction
In August of 2010, Russell and his wife, Vicki, purchased Schuler Enterprises from Harold, retaining both the company’s name and its founder. With Russell overseeing projects and operations and Vicki managing the office, the company’s gross annual revenue doubled the first year. It doubled again in the second year, and the third year’s growth was an astounding 170%.
In 2013, Schuler Enterprises purchased and renovated an 11,400 square foot building at 1249 Northwest 4th Street. The facility houses a 1500 square foot office and provides indoor parking for a portion of the company’s service vehicles.
Schuler’s service team consists of licensed journeymen plumbers and licensed apprentice plumbers. In addition to caring for Harold Schuler’s loyal residential customers, the company also routinely serves some 50 area restaurants that rely on Schuler for immediate plumbing service attention. Schuler also meets the needs of many multi-family residences, condominiums, retirement centers, and hotels.
“After more than forty years in business, and armed with a clear vision for what lies ahead, we like to describe ourselves as the company with a rich history and a bright future,” says Russell Thorp. “After all … we know plumbing!”