SMITHVILLE — Father of seven, Wes Pryor says when one door closes and another door opens, that door opens for a reason. That philosophy explains how he ended up as co-owner of Pryor Mechanical LLC in Smithville.
Not only a co-owner with his wife Amy Pryor, but a dedicated servicer for the plumbing and piping company, Pryor ended up here after several years serving others. When he was 12, he started helping his stepfather with plumbing. Later when he graduated high school he joined the military. Now he is back in the plumbing business after purchasing a facility from a former employer.
"We strive on repeat business," Pryor said. "We focus on integrity and our customer's needs."
Having moved to Smithville from the Ozarks in the 80s, returning to the Kansas City area where he was born, Pryor raises five children in Smithville, Wesley, 17, Lukas, 14, Elijah, 11, and twins Ethan and Emily, 11 months.
"I also have two older daughters, Sara and Carrie," Pryor said. "I've intentionally kept my business small for quality of service. ... I think what is most important to me," Pryor continued, "is the legacy I leave my children."
What would surprise you people most to learn about your job?
“Probably diversity. People don't understand all the different facets of plumbing, because most of it is out of sight, out of mind. There is a lot of engineering in plumbing. Most people think of their home but I would say, percentage-wise, there's probably more commercial plumbing than there is residential,” Pryor said. “They're almost like apples to oranges. It's kind of like riding a bicycle compared to riding a motorcycle. … We fall under a category where we can do any of it, but we primarily do commercial.”
Would a 10-year old you be surprised that you are in this position or field?
“Oh yeah,” he said definitively. “I didn’t start to help out with my stepfather until I was 12. … I think the only thing I was thinking about was hunting and fishing. I didn’t really give (plumbing) a thought then. As I started getting older, I always had a strong influence toward mechanical engineering and it always intrigued me.”
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
“Balance,” Pryor answered. “Balancing being a small company, balancing the white-collar job with the blue-collar job. Another challenge is making everyone happy. That is one of our primary goals. I think a lot of business owners would say that. At the same time, I have a lot of great clients and it is a joy to go to work for my clients. It’s not hard to keep a lot of them happy. We strive on a repeat client base.”
What do you like the best about this field or job in particular?
“Meeting new people,” Pryor said. “I meet a lot of interesting people and a lot of good people. I like helping people. I think some people are more service oriented and all my life I’ve always been a helper. I like fixing things,” he continued. “A lot of times I’ll be downtown (Kansas City) parked outside a building, waiting to go in and you never know who you are talking to on the street. It can be someone who’s homeless. It could be someone who’s affluent, if you will. You never know … It all comes down to, people are people. I think the good Lord put me in a position to help and I see a big need in our society for a lot of help.”
Outside of the workplace, when you meet someone new, what tips you off that person is another plumber?
“It’s not how they wear their pants,” he said jokingly. “A lot of times you don’t know until you get into a conversation. It’s hard to tell because I’ve learned not to stereotype. Because every job classification is made up of every gamut of human personality.”
What’s the most common question you get about what you do?
“How much is it,” Pryor answered with gusto. “This is the honest truth, people want to know how much it costs to do it right and how much it costs not to do it right. There are different amounts of plumbing work I can do and do it right. I can be economical or do something elaborate. It’s my job to find out what is the best way to do something that fits into the budget of my client and still advise them toward something that is right. … When I get a job, that building, in my mindset, becomes my building.”
What advice would you give someone starting a job similar to yours?
"Patience,” Pryor said. “We need to realize in our country that everything doesn’t happen overnight. I don’t know if there is a real sense of success anymore. … My stepfather told me if you are going to do anything, do it to the best of your ability. …I think you should be honest with yourself about whether you are cut out for this kind of work and if you are to do it to the best of your ability,” he continued. “I think people have this drive to find what they feel like they understand and have a tendency to be drawn to it.”