Willburn Family History in Pre-Fab Work

The Willburn family has a rich legacy in the plumbing and heating industries, dating back to the 1950’s and continuing through today. And the idea of pre-fabricated work has been a part of the family’s business strategy all along. Infloor continues this legacy by specializing in prefabricated products, such as our custom-made mechanical boards for hydronic radiant heating systems. By doing the work in advance, it saves us, and you, time, money, and labor.

We have an article from 1960 that was written about our grandfather Frank Willburn that we’d like to share with you. It talks about the time saving methods he used in his business over four decades ago, and the results he had with them. Read it below.

Time Saving Methods Yields Profits for Frank’s Plumbing – published in 1960

Amarillo contractor saves up to 20% in labor by making up complete jobs in shop

Frank’s Plumbing Co., Inc. in Amarillo, Texas, saves time by doing pre-fab work in the shop, having 2-way radios on all trucks, and buying in factory lot shipments. Frank Willburn, President and Manager, says: “In our pre-fab operation, we make up complete plumbing jobs in the shop. These are for a five-fixture job. Ordinarily this would take a whole day. In our shop, we do it in 2.5 hours.”


Pre-Fab Work

Pre-fab is a work leveler for Frank’s Plumbing. It is done when the weather is bad. Air powered caulking guns and electrically operated tools are used throughout the process. This includes pipe machines and other equipment. Willburn notes, “We save 20% on labor in pre-fab work. Two plumbers and an apprentice are used to make up a complete job on nine houses. This takes 1 ½ days. We started pre-fab Amarillo.”

Two-way Radios

The gas saved in the use of 2-way radios in trucks saves the cost of the radio, points out Willburn. He figures the time saved goes in his pocket. An example of the time saved by this medium was the case of a repair truck that had finished a job on the south side of Amarillo. It was getting ready to go to the north side when a call came in from a firm two blocks away. The jewelry store called for a job to be done on a sewer that had stopped up. Merchandise was being ruined in the basement. The repair truck immediately went to the job. Savings were 1 ½ hours in time and $8 in expenses. Frank’s Plumbing uses four trucks with 2-way radios that operate in radius of 10 miles of Amarillo.

Volume Buying

Purchases of factory shipments include such lots as 75 sets of bathroom fixtures at a time and $1,200 worth of pipe fittings per month. ln many cases the firm buys $3,000 worth of pipe at a time. Willburn finds he suffers no loss of time between orders, when they are small, and that time is further saved by the shipment being delivered directly to his shop.

“I moved into my new plant November 1, 1959. Previously, I had an operating cost of 12%. Under my new system I am headed for an operating cost of 8%,” said Willburn.

Part of the time-saving picture is the use of an intercom in the shop and a sliding window between Mr. Willburn’s office and the shop. He can see directly into the shop and workmen can report to him without the necessity of leaving his desk.


Frank’s Plumbing’s new building (left). To attract attention, the firm used old fixtures in front of building to hold shrubbery. Inviting reception area (right) shared space with attractive displays, part of which can be seen in background and at right.