When there’s a tough problem to solve at work, it’s nice to have someone with years of experience to lean on.
To the employees of Central Drain Service Inc. in Oshawa, that someone is Ted Klumper.
The 92-year-old has been a plumber for a staggering 76 years and still works six days a week – although he does point out he gets an early finish on Saturdays.
“I never thought about retirement,” says Klumper, who was born in Olst in the Netherlands in 1930 and started working as a plumber as a teenager shortly after the end of the Second World War.
At the time, he was making $5 a week for about 45 hours of work. All the money went to his mother to support her family.
Klumper came to Canada in 1951 and joined a plumber’s union that operated throughout Ontario from North Bay to Toronto and throughout the United States. The work reliably put food on the table for his wife and their eight children.
After moving to Oshawa, Klumper started his own plumbing business, Ted Klumper and Sons, and bought Central Drain Service in 1974.
The company is family-owned and family-oriented, with three generations of Klumpers working there.
“I like it very much, especially working with the family. If you work for someone else, that’s a different story. But we’re always together and it’s a lot of fun,” says Klumper.
Central Drain offers a long list of residential and commercial services including plumbing repair, pipe and drain line installation, water heater repair, specialty drain cleaning and caulking.
Over the decades, the company has built strong relationships in the community — about 70 percent of customers are repeat customers or come from a recommendation.
Ted’s son, Mark Klumper, who started at Central Drain Service when he was 16 and now owns the company, says it’s a huge advantage to have employees aged 19 to 92.
“We have young blood here that has new, fresh ideas. I’m kind of in the middle, and then we have someone like Ted. We have a very wide range of plumbing skills,” he says. “Sometimes we still come across old plumbing. If one of the guys isn’t sure, he can always go to Ted and he can fill in the blanks.”
Employee Ryan Miehm says it’s “almost unimaginable” to work with someone with as much experience as Ted, while Melanie Klumper, Ted’s daughter-in-law and the company’s account manager, calls him “a great worker and a great role model for younger generations.” .”
Ted says he still has no immediate plans to retire and plans to work as long as he is healthy and able to work.
His advice for young people just starting out in their careers is to find something you enjoy — Klumper doesn’t relate to people who dread Monday mornings.
“For me, I’m looking forward to Monday morning,” he says. “I look forward to going to work.”
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