MARIETTA — Mitzi Smith Moore has a reputation as an accomplished business owner and dedicated community servant. The surprise comes when you learn she is also a certified master plumber.
Though her father, Jack Smith, owned a successful Marietta plumbing company, Moore’s early career goals did not include joining his company. However, a divorce and dire financial circumstances changed her view and altered her course.
Two decades ago, the newly divorced homemaker and mother of two found herself alone and in need of a job that would support her and her young children.
“I really wanted to go back to school to become a teacher, but I stopped short when I realized I had to go back to work. But all of the jobs I interviewed for required me to travel,” Moore said.
With limited choices, Moore went to work for her father on a part-time basis.
Much to her surprise, she really liked the job.
“For the first time, I realized just all of the jobs my dad did and it was fascinating,” Smith said.
She eventually asked her father if she could run the company and he matter-of-factly said, “Sure. Go get your plumbing license.”
Fifteen years ago, the self-described “girly-girl” did just that. For five years she drove the trucks, wore mud-caked coveralls and trained to become a certified master plumber.
“I underestimated what I could do,” she said.
When Moore went on service calls, her gender always garnered comments, she said.
“Some laughed, some insulted, some ignored me … I have been asked to leave more than once. Some said that they wanted a ‘real plumber.’”
She actually witnessed more bias from women than men, she said.
Jack Smith eventually sold his company and together, they opened Sundial Plumbing in 1999. The same year, her father retired and Moore purchased the company and became president.
Under Moore’s leadership, today the privately owned company now has 44 employees, owns 28 trucks and has annual revenues of $4 million. Sundial is still located in the 13,000-square-foot facility on Old Highway 41, where her father started his plumbing business in 1972.
Jack Smith describes his daughter as “tireless.”
“Mitzi’s tireless energy and dedication have been there since she was a little girl,” he said. “Her accomplishments and public service have made a huge positive impact and will, I expect, continue to do so.”
As for what is next, Moore says that because of the recession, annual growth has not been as strong she would have liked, but she is optimistic about the future.
“Because of Sundial’s phenomenal customer retention rate, I expect large growth in our customer base in the future,” she said.
EXECUTIVE PROFILE: MITZI SMITH MOORE
* NAME: Mitzi Smith Moore
* TITLE: President and owner, Sundial Plumbing
* AGE: 51
* EDUCATION: Georgia Southern University — Bachelor of Business Management, minor in Finance; Kennesaw State University — coursework in Master of Middle Childhood
* FAMILY: Married to Richard Moore; daughter, Abbey, age 22, son, George, age 26
* FIRST JOB: Saul’s Department Store, Marietta. “I learned to gift wrap beautifully after wrapping several hundred packages.”
* BEST JOB: Working the drive-thru window at McDonald’s. “They had just introduced drive-thru windows and I loved my uniform and sun visor.”
* LESSON LEARNED THE HARD WAY: Check your bank balance before you write a check. And credit cards aren’t money.
* ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: Know that you can, but still start early and work late.