As we enter our hottest season, the words “plumber” or “air conditioning problems” may induce a mild panic. But here in Austin, the panic may turn to a chuckle as we remember the ever-constant Radiant Plumbing & Air Conditioning commercials featuring the company’s owners, Brad and Sarah Casebier.
I happen to pass Radiant’s San Gabriel and Lamar location at least daily on frequent trips downtown. At this location, the window display (perfectly positioned for those stopped at the 29th Street red light) always features a timely and amusing display of a toilet.
Recent displays have included Game of Thrones, Toto GP (coinciding with Moto GP in Austin) and Mary Poopins. (If you don’t normally drive down Lamar Boulevard near campus, the displays can be seen on Instagram and Facebook).
Is This Really a Story About Toilets?
Given all of this, and ever a fan of the bold and quirky, I jumped at the chance to learn more about Radiant. Would Radiant have creative elves in a secret craft supply cove? Would Brad and Sarah really be bench-pressing water heaters in the corner? Was I super behind on my plumbing and air conditioning maintenance? All very normal questions one might have when getting to know a local company.
While my visit was devoid of crafty elves and bench-pressing CEOs, I witnessed things even more incredible: dancing, passionate employees, dedicated managers, and people who felt they could learn and grow by supporting each other.
Radiant’s Wednesday Meeting
The Wednesday meeting first came up when I was talking to Odalis Suarez and Tanisha Goins about visiting the company.
While our discussion was via phone, I could almost hear them pause to look at each other before both saying, “You should come to the Wednesday meeting!”
Not yet understanding the culture of Radiant, I offered to come for just a portion of it, in case trade secrets or proprietary techniques would be discussed. “No, no,” they said laughing. “You will see!”
Early the next Wednesday, I headed to this mysterious meeting. As I arrived, I was directed to a parking spot (I would later learn special consideration is needed to fit all the blue trucks). Everyone seemed to know each other, or maybe this is how people communicate in the predawn hours. I was greeted and wished a pleasant morning several times as I clutched my coffee.
Then the meeting started. It was unlike any meeting I’ve attended in a work setting. There was dancing and a raffle; people were earnestly commended for their exceptional service (as evidenced by reviews); and then Brad Casebier gave a motivational session, during which everyone was taking notes.
Even as an “outsider,” I started to wonder how I could provide better service, help my colleagues do their best work, and just generally be more “radiant.” And yes, this is how the company got its name.
What About Austin?
After the meeting, I took a tour with a group of people going through the interview process at Radiant. These individuals were from several cities and states across the United States. When I asked what brought them to seek a career with Radiant in Austin, Texas, they all answered with variations of “this is where I know I can grow and be the best.”
After the tour, I spoke with current employees and was struck by how many stories I heard of an employee starting at Radiant with one focus, then going on to succeed in another area through support. “I was a customer service representative, but I wanted to try marketing and they said yes,” Tanisha Goins shared.
Which Came First?
After a bit, I met with CEO Brad Casebier. “We are an Austin blog,” I said. “How do you think being in Austin influenced the Radiant story?” He thought for a while, then answered he felt more comfortable that Austin would accept the unconventional advertisements and bright trucks.
I followed by asking if he would have done it differently in another city. He laughed in a way a person laughs when they’re about to go off script and admitted: he would have done it exactly the same.
As I kept thinking about Radiant Plumbing & Air Conditioning, I started to think that maybe my question was wrong. Maybe it wasn’t Austin that influenced Radiant. Instead, maybe it’s the Radiants of our city that keep Austin ours.
I want to believe we are still quirky enough to laugh at toilet art; that people still seek Austin out as a place where they can come to be their best selves; and, when they get here, they’ll be welcomed warmly–even in the early hours of the morning.
I do believe Austin will always sneak up on you, to gently remind you of who it is. And sometimes that happens at a red light when you find yourself checking for new toilet art.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What was your latest Radiant spotting around town?
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