Mar 09, 2017 10:13AM
By Judy Horan
The website for Big Birge Plumbing has an old-fashioned look. “That’s intentional,” says Vice President Lallenia Birge. The theme is displayed on the company trucks, websites, and social media pages. “We started our company with the slogan ‘Old-fashioned values reborn.’”
Throughout their marketing, you will notice Lallenia wearing 1950s-style outfits; her husband, president of the company, Brad Birge, appears dressed like a lumberjack. Their logo is of Brad’s muscular arm in a red and black flannel shirt holding an oversized pipe wrench. “It’s very tongue-in-cheek marketing,” she says, adding, “We try to be honest and fair with everything we do, and believe our marketing reflects that.”
“It’s is unusual for a woman to own a plumbing company,” she says. It all began when she fell in love while working at the gym. “I saw this super attractive guy and found out he [Brad] was a plumber. Not realizing what went into the plumbing business, I would make jokes about it to my clients.”
The jokes must have paid off! They were married in 2009. “He quit his job at another plumbing company, and in 2012, we officially started [Big Birge] together,” she says. “I was still working as a trainer, started learning marketing, and dug into the business side.”
Hiring their first employee in 2013, they have expanded to nine employees. Lallenia enjoys the supportive workplace atmosphere, which they encourage with regular company outings and weekly meetings. “It’s kind of like a brotherhood; we have each others’ backs,” she exclaims.
Every Monday morning, they hold a meeting with their employees to discuss company core values. Protect the health of our community, tighten every bolt, and take ownership are three of the six values they review with the crew.
“If something doesn’t go right, we do everything in our power to fix it. Plumbers sometimes get a bad rep, and I want to prove that is not the case with our company.” She goes on to explain the company has three plumbing divisions: service, residential remodeling, and commercial.
“My role isn’t only marketing and business but to keep learning and growing myself and our team. I am even taking business classes at Metro. Someone has to keep those guys on their toes!” She says with a laugh. Her resilience on the job reflects the old-fashioned values that she holds dear from her diverse childhood.
Lallenia learned to be self-reliant at a young age. Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, her parents separated around the time she was 2. She was in and out foster care and family friends’ homes until age 9, then adopted. By the time she was 16, she was working three jobs while going to high school and living on her own. Following a friend to Blair Nebraska at age 18, she eventually made Omaha her home.
“I give a lot of credit to the fact that I surround myself with positive people, people who are smarter than me, better than me,” Lallenia explains.
Having already accomplished her dream of becoming a personal trainer, she now wants to be remembered as a loving mother to her children (Wyatt 6, Brielle, 11 months), a great wife, and an inspiration to others in and out of business.
“I want to be known as a woman who is able to overcome and achieve something greater than herself,” she says.