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Published April 07, 2009, 07:55 AM

Plumber brings city-honed skills to the country

The next generation of plumbers in the Bigaouette family is establishing a rural business in Pierce County.

By: Bill Kirk, The Republican Eagle

The next generation of plumbers in the Bigaouette family is establishing a rural business in Pierce County.

Barry Bigaouette worked with his father, Ed, in plumbing most of his adult life. Now that his dad is ready to retire from his business in Stillwater, Minn., Bigaouette has set out on his own.

His new Pierce Plumbing Inc. in Gilman Township got under way early this year.

Plumbing as Bigaouette has known it has been in eight-plexes and four-plexes, besides single-family units, he said. In addition to bathroom, kitchen and laundry installations, he has installed water pipe and drain waste, and venting.

In the country, his new venture offers commercial, remodeling, repair and in-floor radiant heat services, as well as his mainstay -- residential.

Another aspect stemming from his relocation is septic systems. He teams up with area excavators.

"It's a good combination because they generally don't have a plumber's license and plumbers aren't usually excavators," he said.

Boiler work is among his other offerings.

"I go wherever I have to," he said, acknowledging that demand for new construction has decreased and that means fewer job possibilities.

Bigaouette didn't always intend to become a plumber. In school, he liked woodworking and drafting and he went to Michigan Tech to study mechanical engineering.

"That wasn't for me," Bigaouette said he found out and he went back to his family roots.

"When I was 5 years old, my dad was taking me out on jobs," Bigaouette said.

Returning home, he pursued a plumber's apprenticeship at St. Paul Tech, spending a year in day school and five years in night school, he said. He ultimately took four tests, first achieving journeyman and, later, master plumber level. He's now licensed in both Wisconsin and Minnesota.

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