When Jody Bosse’s husband, Paul, asked her to partner with him in a plumbing business she didn’t hesitate.
They started Poly-B Plumbing in Orillia in 2017, providing residential and commercial plumbing and water filtration services. They hired five employees covering both Orillia and North Bay and last year recorded sales of just under $700,000. The goal for 2023-24 is to hit $1 million in sales. They are well on their way.
Bosse, a member of Nipissing First Nation, recently moved their family from Orillia to North Bay, completing the construction of their home this past spring.
The couple continues to cover both markets with two divisions, allowing them to cover a large area of northeastern Ontario.
Paul is a second-generation fully licensed plumber who worked alongside his father to learn the trade.
Jody had a career in corrections before taking a leave of absence to raise their kids. As business picked up with Poly-B, she took on more roles with the operation.
“My strength is dealing with people,” she explained. “I didn’t know much about plumbing but my husband shared stories about his experiences and I wanted to learn more.”
With a keen sense of problem-solving, she took naturally to the trade.
“I became a mini-expert and could problem-solve with clients before needing to bring in a plumber,” she said. “There are a number of steps that can be taken before someone shows up,” such as how to turn off the main water valve to curtail more serious problems.
From learning the steps to solving plumbing problems she could troubleshoot with the clients when the call first came in.
“I can be tracking down parts that might come in quickly or sometimes a few months,” she shared.
Otherwise, she is helping clients to prepare for having a plumber come when they want help to rough-in a washroom or laundry room to identifying a potential problem with tree roots or a mysterious leak.
Being female in a predominately male-dominated industry, she's developed some tough skin.
Bosse took the time to learn more about the plumbing trade and gain confidence in what she knew. Her approach has worked.
When negotiating with clients she does her best to explain, in layman’s terms, how their business operates, which increases client comfort.
“We are transparent and people appreciate that.”
Jody also manages their marketing, including social media, and until recently was answering phones. Two additional staff now handle client calls and scheduling.
With three children at home, ranging from four to nine years of age, and her husband often travelling, it can make for a very busy home life as well. Working out of a home office and hiring staff who can work remotely certainly helps.
“Our assistants work from their home and we communicate through text and phone,” she said.
There’s no need for a storefront. A garage built to store equipment eliminates the need to purchase supplies on a regular basis.
Bosse recently competed in the national Pow Wow Pitch, an entrepreneurship program for emerging Indigenous entrepreneurs.
In deciding to throw her name in along with 2,400 other applicants, she made it as one of the 25 finalists, winning a $1,000 prize. Each finalist was also matched with two mentors to help with their pitch.
Bosse acknowledges the need for skilled trades workers in the industry and is thrilled to be able to hire an Indigenous apprentice who will eventually be able to write his Red Seal ticket and complement their growing team.
Although they need to grow the business to handle the demand, she said “a team of five or six is perfect. Growing to 30 trucks brings a whole other set of challenges.”