plumbers

Chris Parker and his daughter, Persephone Parker, pictured Thursday, June 17, 2020, team up to make the Father Daughter Plumbing and Drain Service in Colorado Springs.

So, what's it like working for your dad?

"I get that question all the time," Persephone Parker says. "People are like, it must suck working for your dad. But I love working with my dad. He's very patient; he knows the way I learn."

Dad is Chris Parker, and he and Persephone make up Father Daughter Plumbing and Drain Service in Colorado Springs. Chris has been a plumber for nearly 20 years, working for companies before launching the business this year; Persephone is a fourth-year apprentice, working under her dad's supervision.

"He's a very, very good teacher," she says.

The timing of the new business proved to be unfortunate. Father and daughter were just getting started when Chris' wife lost her job due to the coronavirus pandemic, so Chris had to get work that came with health insurance. He and Persephone are now both working for RK Mechanical, with Father and Daughter Plumbing relegated to a side gig for now. Between both jobs, that allows for little to no time off, but Persephone doesn't seem to mind.

"I love being able to stay active and doing something new every day," she says. "It's like a big puzzle all the time."

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Persephone, who turns 23 in July and has a younger sister aiming to become a veterinarian, did not always intend to follow in her dad's footsteps. (If you're wondering about her name, by the way, her mom is a fan of Greek mythology.)

"My dad always told me in high school, he was like, you should be a plumber when you graduate," Persephone says. "And I'd be like, no, I'm not going to do that."

Instead, she was looking at a career in teaching. But she was working at a day care and wasn't enjoying it, so when her dad suggested again that she give plumbing a try, she said yes. "And I loved it."

Chris started in landscaping but found himself gravitating toward plumbing. It wasn't until he became a plumber that he learned that his grandfather, who lived in Iowa, had also been one — "50 years in the pipe-fitting union."

Like his daughter, Chris started as an apprentice before becoming a journeyman and working his way up to running crews — "big crews," he says. "I just figured, if I could do all this, why not do it on my own?"

Chris likes working with his hands, likes meeting with homeowners, and likes what you might call the mystery component of plumbing.

"I really like to clean drains and see what's inside of them. It's kind of gross, but it kind of excites me."

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When asked what she doesn't like about plumbing, Persephone mentions work areas, such as crawl spaces, that can be very cramped. "I get claustrophobic sometimes," she says.

Chris, on the other hand, says he can't think of anything bad to say about his occupation. "It's a good career. It's put groceries on my table for many, many years."

While the belief may persist that plumbing — and working in the trades in general — is a man's world, Persephone recommends it for anyone who wants to stay busy and doesn't want to be chained to a desk. "You don't have to be super strong," she says, adding that her friends have applauded her career choice.

Still, her presence at a job site does catch some people by surprise. "I think most of the time, people think I'm mostly in the office," she says, "and don't actually work in the field."

Business mostly comes from word of mouth, though Father and Daughter Plumbing does have a website and a presence on Facebook and other social media.

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"My daughter is the one who came up with the website," Chris says. "She's very smart. I'm excited to see what the future might bring us."

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