Alex Diaz: From Planes to Plumbing
By James Florence , Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
CONCORD — Alex Diaz may have traded a career as an airplane mechanic for a career in plumbing, but he has no regrets about his earthbound livelihood. “After studying aviation in college, I got my aircraft mechanic’s license and started looking for work,” he recounts. “When a prospective job with United fell through, I started to look elsewhere—basically, any job that would allow me to work with my hands. I ended up getting into plumbing, and to my surprise, I totally fell in love with it. I especially enjoyed the interaction with customers. When you work with plane engines, you’re usually by yourself, but as a plumber, you get to meet new people every day, listen to their stories and share some of yours.”
After two years working for a company called Water Heaters Only, Alex got an opportunity to transfer from his home city of Chicago to California and be a supervisor for the company’s West Coast division. “At first, my wife and I were hesitant about the move—after all, we’d never even been to California,” he remembers. “I flew out here by myself to check it out, and the minute I landed, I fell in love with California. Being from the Midwest, where everything is flat, when I saw all the hills, trees and greenery, I was captivated.”
Upon starting his new position, Alex met Matthew Hechim, another supervisor for the company. After six years of working together, Matthew suggested they break off and go into business for themselves. “Matthew and I had a similar vision of owning our own business, so it seemed like a good idea to partner up. We both got our plumbing licenses and started our own company.”
Today, as co-owner of Water Heaters Masters, Alex says he appreciates the liberating feeling he gets from owning his own business. “I just love the freedom and independence, from making my own schedule to being able to structure the company as I see fit. I would recommend to anyone who wants to advance their career to start their own business. It’s not easy, but at the end of the day, it’s more satisfying.”
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Alex now lives in Brentwood with his wife, Yaizmara, son, Gio, and daughter, Xiara. Outside of work, he says the bulk of his free time is spent supporting his kids’ high school sports careers. “My son plays baseball and my daughter plays softball, and they both do a lot of traveling for their teams. I played NCAA Division II baseball in college, so it has been awesome to see my kids follow in my footsteps.” When he’s not attending his kids’ games, Alex enjoys hanging out with his dogs (a black lab and two Olde English Bulldogges) and spending the occasional day at the beach.
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Alex says he’d get further involved in youth sports. “I would do some coaching or maybe start a local baseball organization for kids. I think sports are a huge outlet for kids—instead of playing video games all day, they should be outside exercising and interacting with others.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: Do you have a favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco Giants. I used to be a big Cubs fan when I lived in Chicago, but my allegiance has changed since moving out west.
Q: Do you have a favorite local restaurant?
A: Melo’s Pizza & Pasta in Brentwood.
Q: What kinds of movies do you like?
A: Action movies and comedies.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Greece—I’m fascinated by the history over there.
Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
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A: Christmas. Growing up in Puerto Rico, Christmas was huge for us. On Christmas Eve, my whole family would pick up instruments and go from house to house singing carols. People would let us into their homes and make coffee while we serenaded them. That’s one of my favorite childhood memories.