New plumbing business opens in Bedford

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By John Barnhart

    Marty Hamrick and Spencer Bobbitt, both from Bedford, noticed a shortage of plumbers in the Bedford area, once James Welch, a well-known local plumber, came to be in ill health.
    Both men knew Welch, who died last month.
    “I thought a lot of James,” Hamrick said. “It’s hard not to see him in parts houses in the morning.”
    Hamrick said people were having to call plumbers from Roanoke and Lynchburg for service and this was doubling the amount they had to pay for service due to the long travel time for these plumbers.    The two men were also getting calls from people they knew and decided to form a business so they could be insured. They went into business together because they have known each other for some time, starting from the time Hamrick had done some work with Spencer Bobbitt’s father, Steve Bobbitt, a contractor.
    Hamrick hails from Nichols County, W.Va., and the employment situation there is what originally brought him here. He said there were no jobs there.
    “I came here and the first day I was here I got a job,” Hamrick said.
    Hamrick has been working in plumbing for 12 years. This includes working for Benny Dean,  a local plumber who died in January.
    “I worked for Benny Dean for years,” Hamrick said.
    Bobbitt is a native to Bedford, a 2005 Liberty High School grad. He first got into plumbing working for his father while still in high school.
    “We cover all areas of plumbing,” said Hamrick.
    This includes new installation or repairing existing plumbing. They repair leaks, and can repair or replace water lines, well pumps and sewer lines. They also repair or replace plumbing fixtures.
    “Anything plumbing, we can do,” said Hamrick.
    According to Spencer, they can also check the quality of water from a well. This allows them to tell the well’s owner if he needs a water filtration system.
    Of course, they answer emergency calls at odd hours. Hamrick said doing this is important in order to keep good customers.
    “They need us, we need them,” he said.
    Johnny on the Spot is also on Facebook. Look for them at www.facebook.com/johnnyonthespotllc. Hamrick said they will post plumbing tips on their Facebook page, some of which may be prompted by a recent repair they did. They will also post do-it-yourself tips. Hamrick said they will do this because people who have used their tips will eventually have a plumbing situation they can’t do themselves. Then, they will remember that Johnny advised them in the past.
    Hamrick said that you can encounter some interesting work while doing plumbing. Once he worked on a two-piece toilet. This is an uncommon arrangement in which the tank is mounted on the wall and connected to the toilet by a pipe. This particular toilet was old.
    Then, there is work he’s done on a house in the county built in the late 18th century. The house has had many changes and plumbing was added long after the house was originally built. At one point he was digging and ran into a sewer line “in the middle of nowhere.” It turned out that this was left after a building was moved in the 1960s.
    “You never know what you are going to come across,” Hamrick said of his line of work.
    Johnny on the Spot can be reached by calling Marty Hamrick at (540) 816-5689 or Spencer Bobbitt at (540) 871-0058. Hamrick said they cover all of Bedford County and will take calls just across the county line in adjoining localities.