DS Plumbing has gone Out of This World
From left to right: Dave and Wendy Smythe, partners in life and business (credit: Sean Sisk)
I love Jim Unger’s British wit, and so when I was given the chance to write about plumbing, a Herman cartoon immediately jumped to mind. Picture newlyweds leaving a chapel, with an honour guard of men saluting them with plungers thrust skyward. The bride turns to the groom and says: “I thought you told me you were a fighter pilot!”
It’s easy to resort to jokes, but the gang at Out of this World Home Services is hardcore serious and proudly sport Canadian flags on their shoulders. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought they were astronauts. But plumbing is no joke when it breaks down, and it wasn’t that long ago that the indoor variety was a luxury for the few.
Plumbing times have changed and OOTW intends to change them again.
Out of This World Home Services is a Bell’s Corners company founded as DS Plumbing in 2004 by Dave Smythe, a master plumber whose parents were from Britain. He first trained in the UK as a millwright, and worked on industrial maintenance at a site where they tested Rolls Royce jet engines. But it was thanks to his plumber stepfather that Dave first became curious about a new trade, and Canada seemed to be the place to pursue it.
He met his wife and eventual business partner Wendy in 1991 while Canada was still on the far-off horizon. She was completing a nursing course and he was having a metal plate removed from a leg that was injured in a car accident years earlier. A quiet shift prompted Wendy to request more activity in the men’s ward and that was that. Nurse meets skilled tradesman and Kismet made its presence felt. As Dave puts it: “There are so many coincidences we know that the universe had a hand in it!”
The couple eventually settled in Canada to work and start a family. OOTW had its start-up in the proverbial spare bedroom where Wendy ran the administration department while Dave made house calls. It was classic multi-tasking with kids close by to keep things loving and focused.
Wendy took a break from the business for a few years to work from home and spend more time with the kids. The couple hired a business coach and once again tackled the running and development of DS together. “We work pretty well together,” says Dave. “We try not to work on the business much when we get home but discussion always comes around to it somehow or other. Even our eldest son is working for us so even more reason conversations get started.”
Plumbing is something we take for granted, that is until something goes terribly wrong, so helping clients through renovations or a domestic catastrophe require real people skills. This is a hallmark of OOTW Plumbing and has been a key to their growth and success.
Online reviews glow with gratification for the team’s caring, considerate manners and thorough knowledge of that perplexing network that moves water into and out of our beloved dwellings. OOTW technicians drive trucks that are stocked with just about any fix required. In 90 per cent of calls, there’s no waiting for parts or tools, and that is very reassuring especially when water damage and insurance claims loom ominously.
The company website boasts years of awards that reflect customer experience and satisfaction, with 2018 being one of the best for OOTW. It picked up the Best Ottawa Business (BOB) Award for Best Performance Customer Experience from the Ottawa Board of Trade, the Consumer’s Choice Award, and the Top Choice Award for Top Plumbing Company in Ottawa for the sixth year in a row!
These are stellar accolades but OOTW feels their 70 per cent portion of bookings by referral or return clients is the greatest measure of success and puts their goal on track to becoming the largest residential service plumbing company in Ottawa.
Dave isn’t shy about his greatest dream: to be the first plumber in space on Virgin Galactic! It’s the creative spark behind the rebranding of DS to Out of this World; plus, the new name elevates the brand from the work of a nice local family business to that of a company with its sights set on bigger things.
“We have plans to take the company national in the future, whether through franchise or licensing. Step by step, OOTW is unveiling the new branding on its fleet, uniforms, and the company website, but Dave wants to assure current customers that “we are still providing the excellent service both technician and office teams provide and we intend to be providing them and new customers with more wow experiences.”
Expertise in HVAC, electrical, renovation, and appliance services may soon be added to the current offerings of plumbing, water treatment and drain cleaning.
There’s something about the OOTW family that you can’t help but love, and if you never thought you’d read an article about plumbing that quoted Emmanuel Kant, then you’ve never met a guy like Dave. “‘We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals,” mused Kant in what could be the OOTW office motto. There’s a photo on the company blog of burly Dave holding a very tiny kitten in his tradesman’s arms.
Dave and Wendy are famous cat lovers in the Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue family, and so when a 6-week old puss got herself piped, Dave came to the rescue and extracted her from the sump pump discharge line in her foster home. “I felt over the moon,” said Dave like the aspiring astronaut he is. “It was really good to come out and help this kitten out”.
The couple do much more than just help. They are faithful rescuers who often provide a home for abandoned or feral cats. The aptly named Piper and her sister Nutmeg have joined Dave and Wendy’s home kitties who have been keeping her out of the plumbing ever since.
As if being a superhero wasn’t enough, Dave is also an author. The Book on Personal Development. 3 Stages of Growing Your Self is one man’s insights about building confidence along the road to success. He and Wendy co-authored There’s Nothing Sexy about Plumbing – Or Is There?; No, not a spice-it-up book for couples, but a how-to guide to selecting a plumber or any home contractor you can trust.
Both titles are no doubt filled with the same love and humour found on the company website. Dave, the video host, is worth watching whether your toilet is stopped up or not. His sense of fun is a delight, but it’s no foil for what is a dedicated and thoroughly professional attitude towards all things plumbed, and an ambition to transform the former DS into Out of this World and Canada’s national plumbing brand with branches in every province.
It’s bound to happen, so the next time you look down the drain or up at the stars, think of Commander Dave.