La Verne Magazine
Gentleman Plumber Finds Dream Life in La Verne
by Danny Eckardt
photography by Juan Garcia
Since the age of 24, Tim Loughman has been an independent plumber for
the Foothill communities of Claremont, La Verne, Pomona and San Dimas. Now
at 35, Loughman does not regret a single moment because he enjoys the people
for whom he works and lives.
Imagine rolling hills, clear blue skies and green cornfields as far
as the eye can see. Now imagine a collection of towns slammed together at
the base of a polluted mountain-side. For the 35-year old Tim Loughman,
an independent plumber and resident of La Verne, the striking differences
offer the same comforting feel of home that he experienced in Albay, Iowa
as a youth.
"You can walk down the street here [La Verne] and say hello to
someone or smile at someone, and they look at you and say hello," says
Loughman. "If I could be on a welcome wagon or a sales committee, I
wouldn't live anywhere else in the world."
As a native Iowan, Loughman fell in love with the hardy, high moral
standard of the mid-west like he fell in love with the plumbing trade. Plumbing
was not Loughman's true desire while growing up in Iowa; it was sport-any
"I wanted to be anything with sports, " says Loughman. "We
grew up as a real sports-oriented family, and we used to have mini-olympics
in the summer with everyone on the block."
Unfortunately, Loughman did not get to realize that dream, as he left
home to attend the University of Missouri. Loughman quickly became "tired
of the cold," and promptly moved to Arizona with friends. That is where
he experienced the realities of living on his own. Loughman recalls surviving
on $10 a week and eating nothing but plain potatoes.
"We found work there [Arizona] in the trades and responsibility
grabbed a hold," says Loughman.
He soon left Arizona for Southern California's sunny beaches to escape
the dry heat. That's where he made contact with his friend Perry Smith,
who was a plumber in La Verne and needed help. Since Loughman became accustomed
to the trades life, he had no problem lending a hand to his friend.
"I got started helping him out, and really started making more
and more money," says Loughman.
Five years later, at the age of 24, Loughman owned his own plumbing
business, La Verne Plumbing, and married his wife Bettina.
"Life kind of grabs a hold of you and responsibilities kind of
catch you and you don't have the luxury of choosing what you want to be
or do-you just keep going with what you know," says Loughman.
Loughman and Bettina met through a mutual friend at a restaurant named
Augustines in La Verne. Augustines no longer exists, but Bettina's love
for Loughman has never ceased.
"I feel really blessed by God for having a husband like that,"
says Bettina. "He is loyal, hard working and kind."
The two married in Las Vegas in July of 1989, but went to Dorsten, Germany,
the town Bettina was born and raised in, for a German-style wedding. In
fact, a small town newspaper in Dorsten wrote an article on the wedding
that read, "Local girl goes out to Los Angeles and finds dream man."
Starting the plumbing business was not easy as, Bettina recalls having
very little money and a truck that caught on fire. On top of that, the Loughman's
did not advertise, which meant they came home with blisters on their hands
from distributing flyers.
"I, myself, came home with blisters from taking out flyers, and
just really sitting by the phone and praying it would ring," says Bettina.
Six years later, the Loughmans had their first child, Tyler. Their daughter
Shelby came four years later. Long-time neighbor May Nell Kirchnavy feels
blessed to be like a "grandma and neighbor" to the Loughman family.
"They are the best neighbors. They are very dear to me," says
Kirchnavy. "Their kids call me grandma." Kirchnavy is like family
to Tim and Bettina, because their respective families live so far way.
Loughman's sports-oriented past gave rise to his love for the plumbing
industry. In fact, Loughman was named "Athlete of the Century"
in his hometown of Albay, Iowa this year, for his all around excellence
in sports as a youth.
"I like the physical work of it, and I like not being tied to an
office," he says. "I get to meet people and I am never in the
same place all the time."
A typical day's work consists of eight to 10 hours in the field, and
two or three at home doing paper work.
"I am a service plumber, so I pretty much do residential stuff,"
says Loughman. "You can't get up too early because people are using
their plumbing obviously, and you can't get out too late because they come
home to use their plumbing."
Plumbing does not come without its comedy, as Loughman recalls. "Just
the other day I pulled a leather dog bone out of a toilet, and people were
freaking out at their employees in a place of business," says Loughman.
"It was wrapped in dental floss, so we found it humorous that the dog
had good hygiene when he was in the rest room."
Loughman services the foothill communities, which include Claremont,
La Verne, Pomona and San Dimas.
Sometimes work adds stress to his other commitments, as Loughman juggles
being president of the Board of Trustees at United Methodist Men's Club
at Methodist Church in La Verne, and coach for his son Tyler's 7-year-olds
Mighty Might basketball team for a second year.
"It's never ending," says Loughman. "I have a 3-year-old
and a 7-year-old, and you put a lot of hours in so you are torn between
time with your family and obligations to your customers."
Loughman's customers give him another reason to keep plumbing, because
they treat him "super-fair."
"I have real good customers," says Loughman. "It is a
really fortunate scenario, because the one thing about being small and individualized
is that the person who they talk to is the person that does the job-which
is the person who ultimately gets paid."
The kindness of his customers also hits home, as patrons spoil the Loughman
family with sweets.
"I should weigh 200 pounds, because there are pies and oranges
and cakes in the house from all these little old sweet ladies who say 'Tim
wouldn't take our money,' " says Bettina.
Loughman's caring heart does not stop him short of taking care of customers
"If I see someone in need, a lot of times I help them," says
Loughman. "As far as older folks that are in need, a lot of the times
I help them and try not to bill them if its five, 10 or 15 minutes of helping
"He does a lot of things for people. It ain't all money with him,"
says friend John Richards. "We are really lucky in this town to have
In his 16 years of experience in the foothill community, Loughman has
worked for a few famous and noteworthy people. One of those persons was
Barry Morrow, writer for the Oscar-winning movie "Rain Man."
"I replumbed his back studio in Claremont," says Loughman.
"He wrote my mom a birthday note, because my mom is an aspiring writer."
Some of the other noteworthy people he has worked for include Jack Lawler
and Richards. Lawler helped build the metropolitan water works, as well
as took pictures of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde, according to Loughman.
Richards was a fellow plumber and good friend of Loughman's who worked 35
years in La Verne, and served as one of the youngest men in the Navy, at
the age of 14, during World War II.
"I've adopted Tim as my own son," says Richards. "I think
the world of him. He's a church-going righteous-thinking man. I couldn't
find a better friend if I tried."
When Loughman first arrived in La Verne, Richards rented out one of
his apartments to him. Even though he is a 71-year-old retired plumber,
Richards still calls on Loughman's honest and hard working services. In
fact, Richards recalls working with Loughman in a mentoring-fashion when
he was new to La Verne.
"I owned my own business [plumbing], but he has helped me out through
the years-now he is my plumber. I would hire the best I could get, and he
is the best you could get."
Richards knows what it takes to be a plumber, but after meeting and
working with Loughman he is sold on the fact that there are few who work
harder. "He is one of the hardest workers I have ever met in my life,"
There is nothing like good customers that keep him going, but Loughman's
true inspiration he says comes from his mother.
"My mother is probably one of the most incredible people I know,
by far," says Loughman. "She lived a very hard life, and you can't
find a nicer person. She's a good friend."
In addition to the regular plumbing grind, Loughman remodels and installs
new items in commercial and residential districts. Some of the places he
has served includes: the University of La Verne, La Verne Police Station,
the Village Inn, Warehouse Pizza, Roxy's and Café Allegro.
"We use Tim every two months," says Brian Worley, director
of facilities management at the University of La Verne. "We use him
on emergency situations, or a situation when my regular plumber is on vacation
or out for some reason."
Loughman's hard work and dedication is the reason Worley continues to
call him in time of need.
"I think Tim approaches his work very professionally," says
Worley. "I think Tim has a positive outlook on things and I enjoy working
Even though Loughman may never admittedly become rich doing plumbing
work, he has found all he could ever want in being humble and providing
for his family.
"I am never going to get rich, but what do you really want-I am
healthy, my kids are provided for, and I get time for my kids," says
Loughman. "Money buys you a lot of material things, but it doesn't
buy you time with your family. There are very few people, I would say, money-wise
or lifestyle-wise, that live as good a lifestyle as I do."
Don't tell him to retire, because there is not end in sight for his
career. "I don't really think I will ever retire," says Loughman.
"I will always be helping people plumbing-wise, probably until I can't
For this humble Iowan native, being the consummate gentleman and father
means more than anything in the world -- even plumbing.
Tim Loughman takes a few minutes from work to chat with his daughter,
Shelby Anna Loughman. Although being self-employed forces Tim Loughman to
work longer hours than most, he always finds time to spend with his family