A-1 Peterson Plumbing turns 50

Published 11:04 am Saturday, October 13, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


In 1968, a company was started. The goal at the time was for a husband and wife to make enough money to support themselves and their four children. Now 50 years later, it a household name and celebrates a half-century of serving the community.

“Mom and Dad were both orphans,” Donna Peterson, daughter, said. “In fact, before moving to Orange, Dad was an apprentice with a plumbing company and was not very good at it.”

Once in Orange, Richard (Dick) Peterson Sr. found work at Livingston Shipyard. With four children, the couple knew they would need to bring in more income. His wife suggested a plumbing company.

“He reminded her he was almost fired several times from the company up north,” young Donna said. “Mom said they could take a correspondent course and learn how to do it right.”

And right, is exactly what they did.

Mom went on to become the first female journeyman plumber. Dick became a Master Plumber.

“A man on Gulf Row heard about Mom and said ‘Give that female plumber a call, she can’t be any worse than the men we have,’ and that is how we started on Chemical Row,” Donna said.

Donna also shared how her parents would buy a piece of equipment and the seller would shake his head and say, “They are never going to make it.”

“This happened over and over,” Donna said. “And here we are today, celebrating 50 years in business.”

It began with one Roto-rooter machine and operating out of the truck of the couple’s car. The couple worked nights and weekends after Dick finished his shift at Livingston Shipyard.

In a twist of fate, the couple was convinced to buy an ad in the yellow pages phone book. At the time, a small ad was considered normal for a plumbing company and was approximately $15 a month, a large amount for a side business to budget.

“That slick talking salesman convinced us to spend $300 a month for a half page ad,” Donna said. “It was unheard of for a plumbing company to have a half page ad. But it worked, the phone started ringing and kept ringing.”

The phone rang so much, the Dick decided to leave the shipyard and concentrate on the company fulltime.

One year later, Livingston Shipyard shut down.

“We are a 24/7 plumbing company,” Donna said. “The only day we closed was for Dad’s funeral.”

Dick passed away in 2006 but his legacy continues on through his wife and two sons, William “Bill” and Richard II, and daughter, retired Army Major Donna Peterson.