Building relationships, creating good environment for employees are keys to Hill Plumbing's success


Editor's note: Read our full May / June 2024 issue of The Sumter Item Impact here for free.

It takes a special company to stay in business 99 years and much less still be operated by the same family, but Hill Plumbing and Air meets that mark.

Owner Frank Hill and his son, Trey, and daughter, Lauren, spoke recently on the company's success and longevity, and common themes involve customer relationships and creating a good environment for employees to work in.

Hill Plumbing has come a long way from 1925 and a single employee in Frank's grandfather, K.B. Hill, riding to service calls on his bicycle. Now, the company has nearly 100 employees and a fleet of more than 40 vehicles.

Business is mixed between area service repair to new commercial construction projects across the state to include schools, plants and office buildings. Some projects locally have included the new Sumter County Judicial Center, new fire department and police department, Hyatt Place hotel, Sumter Original Brewery, Prisma Health Tuomey's new emergency room and Central Carolina Technical College's new Academic Student Services Building on its main campus.

The business has four core values to include quality, integrity, professionalism and relationships.

When Frank Hill started with the family business in 1983, the company was nearly bankrupt.

He said that he built it up through hard work and surrounding himself with competent and good people. Now, the company has added service to Florence and also heating and air-conditioning services.

"It took time and making prudent decisions," Hill said. "The biggest factor that has helped us grow is building the business through relationships."

Many key employees have been with Hill for more than 20 years.

Lauren Hill said she loves working with her dad and her brother and said that company success goes back to having strong employees.

"It's a family owned business by blood," she said, "but it is also a very family oriented place not by family."

'Hill Plumbing University'

One thing that has changed over time in the plumbing business is that there is more competition these days. Trey Hill noted that more than half of the company's current competitors locally are former employees of Hill Plumbing. The trend is so common that he calls the business "Hill Plumbing University."

"Typically, when we lose employees it is due to the fact that they are going out on their own," he said. "I can count maybe one employee in the last 12 years where we have lost them to a competitor.

"And that is just part of working in industry. When you have any big outfit, lots of people are going to come through there."

Here is a closer look at Hill Plumbing and Air with the Hills.

Question from The Item: What are your most common service calls?

Trey Hill: "On the plumbing side, it is sewer calls, water leaks, water heaters, slab leaks and repiping a home. On the HVAC side, it's residential and commercial installs, repair work, mini-splits, heating and air-conditioning replacements and duct cleaning."

Item: What does customer service mean to you?

Frank Hill: "It means doing what you say you are going to do and asking a fair price for a fair job. Another concept is we look at the customer as an opportunity for a continuing relationship. So, in other words, we are looking to build a relationship for a continued service, and a lot of our customers go back more than 20 to 30 years.

And fast, dependable service - that's everybody's motto."

Item: Why expand your services in recent years to include heating and air?

Frank Hill: "The biggest single reason was to provide a better service to our customers. It fits right in with the plumbing."

Trey Hill: "We felt like adding heating and air gives us a competitive advantage. We can say, 'Not only do we provide you with plumbing service, now we provide you with heating and air service.'"

Lauren Hill: "We already have such a strong customer base with plumbing and lots of loyal customers that we wanted to provide the heating and air as well."

Item: What is the biggest work-related compliment you can get?

Trey Hill: "For me, it's when I get a phone call out of the blue and someone tells me that one of our employees was there, and they say, 'I just wanted to let you know, they were fantastic, and they were pleasant.' That is my biggest compliment or when one of our employees comes and tells me, 'I really enjoy working here.'

"Those are the two biggest compliments for me. That means we are doing something right."


Hill Plumbing and Air will celebrate its 100th anniversary in January 2025 and looks to involve its customers and the Sumter community in the festivities, according to the Hills.