Heroes don’t wait for something to happen to make a difference. They never give up. They go out of their way to help others in any way, shape, or form. If our team arrives at home and there is another issue that we didn’t show up to fix, we’ll still take care of it without question. We would never walk away from a problem. Heroes go above and beyond without expecting anything in return.
As part of my series about “people who stepped up to make a difference during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Josh Savage. Josh is the owner of Hero Plumbing, Heating & Cooling in Minneapolis, MN. Prior to taking over the family business, Josh served as a mechanic and commander of a combat-engineering outfit in the Iraq war. In 2015, Josh was named a Veteran’s Voice awardee of the Minnesota Humanities Center, which recognizes veterans who are “thriving and making extraordinary contributions to their communities.” As a business owner, Josh is driven to make a difference in this world while providing customers with a world-class experience.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how and where you grew up?
As a teenager, I was a handy kid who helped out at my dad’s plumbing business in south Minneapolis. My dad worked sunup to sundown, often seven days a week. He would spend many nights and weekends wrestling furnaces and kitchen pipes. I remember him telling me, “Go to college so you don’t have to work like this.” As irony would have it, I purchased the business decades later and expanded it. To be honest, I never envisioned myself an entrepreneur or business owner. When my wife and I purchased the company, we had 4 employees and focused on serving Minneapolis. Today, Hero Plumbing, Heating & Cooling has over 100 amazing employees working with us and we’ve expanded our service area to cover the entire Twin Cities metro.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
About 20 years ago, I was introduced to the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. It is a book that has shaped me as a person and led me from struggle to success. I remember reading for the first time during a low point in my life. I was struggling in a relationship, and this book gave me a path to follow. It led me down a positive road and helped me turn a struggling relationship with a lifelong marriage.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
One of my favorite quotes comes from The Lion Trackers Guide to Life. “I don’t know where I’m going, but I know how to get there.” This quote actually came into life quite recently. It resonates with me because I believe that you need to take life step by step. You can’t sit and worry about what’s going to happen three months down the road. You need to live your life today and make the most of it.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. You are currently leading a social impact organization that has stepped up during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to address?
All of us are dealing with so much change right now during this COVID-19 pandemic. People are facing a lot of uncertainty and dealing with more anxiety than ever. Since all plumbing, heating, and cooling services are deemed essential in Minnesota, Hero has been one of the few businesses that has been able to meet people face-to-face every day since this all started. Our team decided that handing out flowers to our clients and community was a simple way for us to brighten someone’s day. In total, we delivered 4,000 bouquets to people throughout the community. We want our company to be a vehicle for all of us to make the world a better place. Community service is an incredibly important part of what we do and who we are at Hero.
In your opinion, what does it mean to be a hero?
In my opinion, being a hero means sacrificing yourself for another. A hero is someone who does something we can’t do, don’t want to do, or don’t think we can do. Being a hero isn’t about accomplishing something great. It’s about the influence that act has on us. Heroes inspire us. When we think about the heroes in our own life, it tends to be everyday people who’ve done extraordinary things.
In your opinion or experience, what are “5 characteristics of a hero? Please share a story or example for each.
- Puts Team Before Self: A hero is always thinking about others before themself. It can be as simple as covering a shift for a coworker or helping a neighbor with a home repair. Heroes are the first to volunteer when most would shy away.
- Remarkably Driven: Heroes don’t wait for something to happen to make a difference. They never give up. They go out of their way to help others in any way, shape, or form. If our team arrives at home and there is another issue that we didn’t show up to fix, we’ll still take care of it without question. We would never walk away from a problem. Heroes go above and beyond without expecting anything in return.
- An Ultimate Professional: In our industry, we’re always helping people with unexpected issues. Their roof is leaking, their drain is clogged, their heater doesn’t work. It’s a hero’s job to act fast and find a solution. You have to be trustworthy in every aspect of your life.
- Exceptional Communicator: Think about the last time you were dealing with a tough issue. Did you have someone to talk to? I bet it would have made you feel better to discuss that issue with someone you trust. The way a person communicates and responds can help to solve the problem. Effective communication can have a huge impact on everyday lives. Positive communication can be an act of heroism.
- Gives Back: We appreciate it when someone is willing to be selfless, creative, and innovative. Giving back and encouraging others comes with benefits. We never know who we’re going to influence when we give back, not expecting anything in return. Giving back leaves a legacy that will survive much longer than we will.
If heroism is rooted in doing something difficult, scary, or even self-sacrificing, what do you think drives some people — ordinary people — to become heroes?
I believe people can drive others to become great. It’s the little moments in life that allow people to become heroes. In my line of work, I see it most when colleagues help one another. Lending a helping hand can make all the difference to people. I hear it all the time, “Can you cover my shift? Thank you so much- you’re such a lifesaver!” It’s the little things that can make people heroes to others.
What was the specific catalyst for you or your organization to take heroic action? At what point did you personally decide that heroic action needed to be taken?
Our company is called Hero for a reason. The entire business is built around our employees being like heroes for our customers. They’re well trained, professional and they put our clients and their needs first.Our plumbers have spent time weeding a garden. Our techs have volunteered to fix a squeaky screen door when they were done working on a furnace. Going above and beyond is normal. When COVID-19 hit, it was a very jarring time for our community. Our team may be known as plumbing, heating, and cooling experts, but we wanted to be more than that for our neighbors. This flower bouquet drop-off was another way for us to step up and help the people we interact with on a daily basis.
I have always seen this company as a platform to give back and make a difference in the world. Giving back allows us to step out of the daily grind of survival mode and realize the abundant gifts we have in this world. Whether that’s a warm home, hot food, or a loving family, we are all very blessed. Knowing in our hearts we impacted something important to us gives our lives meaning.
Who are your heroes, or who do you see as heroes today?
My mom and dad have always inspired me. They have been and always will be my heroes. I look at the way they built this company. They put everything they had into it and still made time to give back to the community that supported them. When it comes to giving back, their actions always spoke louder than their words. They were constantly giving their time, talent, and money to the church, family, and neighbors. They are the most humble and hardworking people I know.
My uncle Curt was a missionary in India, Africa, and Central America. He always had amazing stories of adventure and helped me understand the poverty and hardships in a developing country. As a young kid, I remember setting a goal to build houses in Africa someday. Today, Hero is the flagship sponsor of World Encounter, a micro-loan program for women in Africa, run by my Uncle Curt.
Let’s talk a bit about what is happening in the world today. What specifically frightened or frightens you most about the pandemic?
This pandemic has put so much fear in our society. It has caused us to separate, and we’re not able to interact and thrive off of one another like we once did. There are long-term impacts that will take a toll on us personally and economically. We can’t let fear take control of our mental and physical lives.
Despite that, what gives you hope for the future? Can you explain why?
The world has faced so many crises in the past. It has an amazing way of overcoming each problem, and my hope is that we can continue to overcome this pandemic together. Teamwork doesn’t only make the dream work, it makes the world go round.
What has inspired you the most about the behavior of people during the pandemic, and what behaviors do you find most disappointing?
Fear around public health emergencies like the coronavirus can bring out the worst in people, but it can also provide inspiring examples of people choosing to be kind. As people are told to isolate to stop the spread of coronavirus, many are supporting others. From companies donating masks and ventilators to hospitals to everyday people helping their neighbors, there are countless ways people are trying to do the right thing during an extraordinarily difficult time. Whether it’s by calling a colleague to check in on them or donating to a local charity, people across the globe have been working as one to help all.
Has this crisis caused you to reassess your view of the world or of society? We would love to hear what you mean.
If there is one thing this pandemic has taught me, it’s that we need to slow down. For once, we’re not being told to hurry up and get to soccer practice or make six dozen cookies for the school bake sale. I’ve been taking this time to slow down and live life with the people who mean the most to me, my family. Society has been given a break from its fast-paced world. Spend time in the community you live in with the people you love.
What permanent societal changes would you like to see come out of this crisis?
Right now, people are helping people. Prior to COVID-19, a lot of people were solely concerned with their own wellbeing and health. That has drastically expanded, and I hope that compassion carries on with all of us into the future.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
I remember the impact my uncle Curt had on me at a young age. He truly helped me understand more about the struggles communities outside of mine faced. It has always been my goal to give back whenever possible. I encourage everyone, young and old, to think about the ways that they can help others. Whether it is in their own neighborhood or across the world, there are so many amazing organizations you can join in order to help others.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I want to create a movement that brings compassion and empowerment into people’s lives. When people feel love and compassion from one another, it can empower them to do anything. It’s my goal to drive people to do whatever they want with their lives, no matter their circumstances.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
For years, I have admired the sports psychologist, Dr. Michael Gervais. Throughout his career, he has followed the central question, “Is there a common thread connecting how the greatest performers in the world use their minds to pursue the boundaries of human potential?” He has such a personable way of discussing his understanding of human behavior and the ability to communicate. I’ve loved learning from him.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!