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Building up Israel – One Leaky Challenge at a Time Interview with Ariel Baror, CEO of Master Plumbing

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Ariel Baror is a master problem-solver. Drawing on his unique talents and diverse professional background in the USA and Israel, he is the CEO of Master Plumbing, a 5-star plumbing contract company. Master Plumbing offers extensive services, including partial or complete bathroom renovations

Specializing in locating and fixing stubborn leaks, Ariel Baror does everything from laying pipes and sewage lines to bath and shower renovations to home inspections for prospective buyers. We asked him about his background and what drew him to this profession.

Tell us about your background.

I was born in Israel in 1978, and grew up in Jerusalem. I come from a diverse background: my mom is a third-generation American born in Baltimore with Ashkenazi roots; and my father is a first-generation Israeli grandson of the Av Beit Din in Aleppo, Syria, Rav Moshe Ezra Mizrahi. My grandfather and Rav Ovadia Yosef were Chavrutot.

I moved to the USA when I was 19, initially to work with my brother in his car leasing company, and tried out a lot of different avenues. I got married and we bought our first house; we decided to renovate, I started learning and working in construction and renovation, until moving back to Israel in 2008. I now live in Beit Shemesh with my wife and six kids.

I always knew intuitively how to fix things and solve problems, and I have a knack for solving a challenge. For example, in my brothers leasing company, no one wanted to fix the trucks. Cars were “easy”, but trucks are a whole different story. I became the truck mechanic. I like learning how different things work, and I like jobs that keep me interested.

I found that I enjoyed plumbing because it’s more complicated; you always know how you’re going to start, but you never know how you’re going to finish or what you’re going to find along the way. Every house and job is completely different, and each job needs to be tailored to the specific place. It requires a lot more analytical and quick thinking, which keeps me happy.

So you chose plumbing for the challenge?

Exactly. When there’s water coming out of the ceiling, it takes a lot of skill and patience to fix it correctly, and I love the challenge. Every house is different. You have to learn how the piping was installed in each house and figure out how to fix it with minimal damage. It keeps me on my toes!

How did you get involved in construction?

Like I said before, when we bought our first house in the US, it was in demolition condition, and I rebuilt it. I did everything from gutting and re-doing flooring on two levels, piping, kitchen, drywall, woodwork and deck, everything. My wife was pretty shocked. I come from a very “handy” family and was just able to learn what I needed to learn and saved $100,000 of work by doing it myself. After that, my mother in law hired me to re-do the flooring and bathrooms in her store in Monsey, Ruthie’s Unique Boutique. A customer saw me working in the back one day and hired me to do work in her basement and garage. This was right after 9/11, and her husband unfortunately had been in the second tower when the airplane hit. I will never forget working for her and just being inside the house would break your heart – without anyone saying anything. Just the feeling of knowing what they were going through.

I wanted to continue learning as much as I could and for as long as I felt that that’s what Hashem wants me to do, but I continued to work in construction on the side. Clients continued to recommend me to each other.

And then you returned to Israel?

Our family moved to Israel in December 2008. My wife had always worked with her mother, Ruthie—so we decided to open branches of Ruthie’s Unique Boutique here in Israel.

One night, I got a call from an old friend who had been a licensed plumber in NY and Israel for over 30 years. We had a life-changing dis­cussion, which resulted in me working alongside him as an apprentice. A few short months later, he told me I was already at his level and got me into a large insurance company in Modi’in as a plumbing contractor. In Israel, it’s all about connections, and I was blessed with the right connections.

What’s different about working for an insurance company as a plumbing contractor, as opposed to working as a plumber privately?

While working with this insurance company, we would regularly take care of complicated plumbing jobs that involved deep construction. It is known that some private plumbers tend to steer away from those kind of projects. It’s tough work, physically and mentally, but I really enjoy the challenge.

How did you start working privately?

Lately there has been somewhat of a revolution in the insurance world and all contracts have been changed. Most insurances will now allow a homeowner to call any private plumber directly and get reimbursed. I still freelance as a private contractor for the original insurance company and love the networking we get with them; but I also work privately now in Beit Shemesh, Jerusalem, Modi’in, Tel Aviv, the Gush, and all surrounding areas.

How did it work out?

I did an apprenticeship transfer that prepared me for plumbing issues in Israel that are handled differently than they are in America, primarily due to the different building techniques used here.

After a few short months of working for the insurance company, my reputation spread throughout the other insurances in our network, and I was given a 5-star rating the highest level a contractor can reach in the insurance world. The rating is done by the customers and is based on professionalism, efficiency, honesty and derech eretz. My growing reputation enabled me to start working privately and closer to home.

What advantage do you have over your competitors?

I have a strong policy not to talk about anyone or anyone else’s work, but I can tell you what I offer, and what I specialize in, and I am happy to do my best for my clients.

What I am most known for in my network is:

Finding leaks and sources for very complicated issues that no one else could find.

Having the best and most updated equipment, much of which I have imported, and is not available in Israel yet.

Sticking with my original quote, even if I miscalculated time and materials.

Clean and neat work while sticking to our timetable and keeping promises.

Very reasonable pricing.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

The feedback I get is, without a doubt, the best part; and the best endorsement one can get is through a happy customer. Even when I am satisfied with my work, be it by building a beautiful and functional space, or by finding and fixing an evasive leak, it’s always great to hear that my clients are happy and ready to recommend my work to their family and friends.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

Believe it or not, the most challenging leaks to find are the minor ones. Sometimes it can take up to a few months to find them; even- with the best and most advanced equipment on hand. Usually, though, I can find them at the first visit. A huge part of this job is the experience and intuition you naturally develop over time. For example, it can be very hard to find a minor leak in a pipe that’s six feet underground. Sometimes my equipment is all I need to detect it; sometimes it takes more sleuthing—especially if it’s buried under a hard material, like cement or metal. It also depends on the age or type of pipe and how it was originally installed.

Can you give us an example of a challenging situation you encountered and how you solved it?

I was working in the private home of an Israeli judge in Ginaton. His water meter was running, there was a leak, and it was very clear that the leak was coming from outside the house.

His entire garden had been cemented and covered with Bumonite. Bumonite is a very expensive material that is beautiful as a thick layer on top of cement; but it is very delicate. The top layer is one solid piece; if you need to drill into it, the entire surface will need to be replaced.

My equipment detected that the leak was near the meter and underground. I was left with no choice; I started to break into the ground and dig into the cement to about six- feet beneath surface level. I found a lot of water; but I couldn’t find the pipe—which is very rare for me. It was so deep underground! After two days of digging, we ordered a mini-digging tractor. We opened the whole area altogether; and after six hours of digging with the tractor we hit pay dirt. We found the pipe, we fixed it, and closed it.

There is no “impossible”, as long as you don’t give up. In these situations, you have to be hyperfocused on finding the problem and fixing it, or the issue will just drag on which is so inconvenient for the client. What would you suggest for others looking to become a plumber?

If you are very good at problem-solving, have a lot of intuition and enjoy physical work, plumbing could be a great profession for you. You need to have a lot of patience; not only does it take a long time to get into the market, you’ll also need an incredible amount of patience while on the job. You have to be ready to work hard—the benefit is that it keeps you in great shape! You have to be able to work under pressure, too.

The best way to learn plumbing is to start as an apprentice. Of course, you have to learn the basics of equipment, safety, laws, etc., but this job is very hands-on and you need to learn the problem-solving part in real time, because each house is so different and unpredictable.

One last thing: for every problem, there is a solution. NEVER GIVE UP!

ABOUT ARIEL BAROR

Ariel Baror is the founder of Master Plumbing, an exclusive plumbing contract company. which offers extensive services to private and commercial clients. Ariel speaks Hebrew, English. and Spanish.

Ariel can be reached at 055-667-9037.

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