Archive for the 'Varsity Plumbing' Category

Keep Plumbing Costs Down By Working With a Company that Arrives Prepared

By Bobby Bellini, President of Varsity Plumbing and Heating, Inc.

How prepared is your plumber when he arrives on the job? This question can have a big impact on how much you pay and how much inconvenience you experience. Recently, two different Resident Managers—one from a condo in Chelsea and one from a co-op on the Upper East Side—shared with me stories about plumbing jobs that should have been simple, but became long, drawn-out fiascos that ended up wasting valuable time and costing much more than they should have. Why? Because, in the case of the first call, the plumbers showed up without the proper materials, even after an estimator had visited the property, looked over the project, and priced out the job. In the case of the second call, the plumber who showed up to address a standard apartment leak didn’t even have a service vehicle stocked with parts, and was forced to wait two and a half hours until the required repair materials were delivered to him by his office, at the co-op’s expense.

Don’t let this happen to you. There are many companies out there that offer low prices, but don’t deliver. In some cases they don’t even have service trucks with standard inventory driven to the job site for the serviceman to immediately draw the materials required for the repair. Also, many companies don’t have the warehouse space necessary to store the parts they need, if and when their estimator’s stock falls short. Both scenarios can add time and cost to any job, turning a low estimate into an overpriced and time-consuming endeavor.

At Varsity Plumbing and Heating, our headquarters in Flushing features a 28,000-square-foot office as well as an 8,000-square-foot parts warehouse with over a million dollars worth of inventory. This, along with our fleet of fully stocked trucks, allows us to service our clients at any time of day, without having to depend on suppliers.

Varsity Plumbing’s fleet of trucks stand at the ready outside their 32,000-square-feet of office and warehouse space at their Flushing, Queens headquarters.

Varsity Plumbing’s fleet of trucks stand at the ready outside their 32,000-square-feet of office and warehouse space at their Flushing, Queens headquarters.

Whenever we receive a call for proposal, we send out a trained estimator as quickly as possible. Our estimators take continuing education classes every year, and have years of on-the-job experience. After visiting the site, analyzing and diagnosing the problem, our estimator returns to the Varsity office with a full report, and writes up a detailed proposal. This proposal is reviewed by the estimator’s supervisor, to make sure nothing has been left out. Then the proposal is sent over to the property’s Super or Resident Manager, and if required, to the Managing Agent as well. If the proposal is accepted by the building, it is sent to our service manager and warehouse manager for scheduling and preparations, ensuring that all the parts needed for this particular job are in the warehouse prior to the job being scheduled. If materials are required, they are immediately brought in to ensure that we can complete the job as quickly and efficiently as possible. Once all the materials are in-house, the job is loaded onto the plumber’s truck BEFORE he heads out to do the job. That is how it should be done, and it really is that simple.

In the case of the aforementioned properties, both plumbers arrived on the job without all of the required materials. In both cases, the Resident Managers, who had scheduled their staff and daily tasks around these plumbing repairs, had to juggle schedules and waste time waiting, along with the plumbers, for the proper materials to be delivered to the buildings so the jobs could be completed.

When the bills came in, both of these Resident Managers called the plumbing companies to complain, explaining that they should not be charged for the time the plumber was waiting around for parts, due to their own poor planning. They both had to waste more valuable time on the phone arguing their point.

Next time you have a plumbing problem, call someone who can provide a solution, in a prompt, efficient, cost-effective manner. Plumbing skills are only part of the equation when it comes to good service. Staff, storage, transportation and supplies are equally important. Be sure that your plumber arrives prepared so that your property can get the job done at the right price in the shortest amount of time.

Family owned and operated since 1962, Varsity provides a wide range of services to all kinds of properties, from co-ops and condos to rentals and commercial properties. Varsity’s expertise includes plumbing, heating, sewer and drain cleaning, water quality, backflow prevention, pumping systems, and fire sprinkler/standpipe systems. With offices in Flushing, Queens, and Bohemia, Long Island, Varsity serves New York City, Long Island, and northern New Jersey, and requires mandatory drug testing and criminal background checks for all field employees. Company President Robert J. Bellini serves as Past President of the Master Plumbers Council of the City of New York and is a member of the NYC Plumbing Licensing Board.


Be Sure to Hire the Right Plumber for the Job

It may be the most overused tag line in all of advertising history: “No Job Too Big Or Small.” You see it in ads for painters, roofers, carpenters, and of course, plumbers. And I’m writing today to tell you to watch out whenever you see those words.

Often, they are used by smaller companies looking for small jobs. In the case of plumbers, the firms using that line are often trying to pick up work like leaking faucets, dishwasher replacements, or snaking out clogged toilets. You may think that by hiring them you’ll be saving money—but beware!

We were recently called in to an apartment building where a number of units on the fourth floor had tubs and sinks that were not draining properly. Luckily, the manager was experienced enough to realize this might need a more complicated fix than just snaking out the waste line, and called Varsity. Turns out he was right.

Our technician visited all of the affected apartments and discovered something very strange: half of the fourth floor—yes the floor itself—had been built incorrectly! Instead of being level, the floor was slightly pitched, making it virtually impossible for the tubs and sinks to drain properly. The building was relatively new, and the waste lines and fittings worked for a while, but when they got blocked up just the slightest bit, the waste water would no longer drain.

We diagnosed the situation, and came up with a remedy—we raised the floor in all of the affected bathrooms four inches, then pitched and connected the waste lines and fittings properly, so that gravity could do its job.

In another situation we were called in to replace a toilet and unclog a waste line. When we got there we saw that the actual toilet bowl had exploded! When we asked the homeowner what happened, she told us that she had a clogged toilet which she could not clear with a plunger. She looked online and called (you guessed it) a “No Job Too Big Or Small” outfit, who sent a serviceman over with a heavy-duty electric snake.

Instead of asking the right questions, and walking through the house to determine how the problem occurred and how best to move forward, he forced the snake down the toilet bowl and started spinning it. Well, that snake went right out the waste line, took a right turn and went into the second bathroom. It came up through the waste line and broke right through the toilet bowl!

Luckily, this homeowner got our name from a friend who had just used Varsity to replace an old toilet and was happy with the work we did. After replacing the broken toilet, we went down to the basement, traced the waste line, and found a clean-out trap up above the dropped ceiling. We drained the waste line, cleared the blockage and repaired the problem.

All of our technicians are trained to analyze every situation and to make sure they have a full plan of attack—from start to finish—before they begin a job. We take the time to train our plumbers on an ongoing basis, whether it is for new local governmental rules and regulations or continuing education.

So the next time you need plumbing work, don’t fall prey to an advertising catch line.  Choose a firm that has been around for many years, has a solid reputation for doing good work, and makes sure their customers are satisfied. Check to see if they are licensed to do the work you need, and have technicians who are drug tested, bonded, and trained to leave your place just as clean as when they arrived.

Or just call Varsity at 877-VARSITY, and feel confident that we will solve your problem quickly, do a good job, and charge a fair price.

Varsity will always leave your home looking as good as when we arrived, and will be sure the problem is completely repaired.

Varsity will always leave your home looking as good as when we arrived, and will be sure the problem is completely repaired.






Varsity Plumbing and Heating of Flushing, Queens on Backflow Prevention Devices: Are you in compliance?

As seen in the July 16, 2013 issue of New York Real Estate Journal:

By Bobby Bellini, President, Varsity Plumbing and Heating, Inc.

Back in 2010, New York City initiated a vigorous enforcement campaign to ensure that all buildings requiring Backflow Prevention Devices have them properly installed and operational. Since then, thousands of properties have begun the long and sometimes very costly process of meeting the City’s requirements. Many have successfully completed their installations and testing, and have received the stamp of approval from the City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), yet tens of thousands, and possibly as many as 100,000 buildings have yet to finish—or even start—meeting their compliance requirements.

Backflow preventers, which are designed to prevent contaminated water or chemicals from flowing back into the public drinking water system, are required in a vast number of NYC buildings. At the start of the enforcement campaign, the City began mailing out compliance letters to buildings, giving them 30 days to initiate the process of installation, which requires the services of a licensed professional engineer or registered architect. In a recent conversation with the DEP’s Cross-Connection Control Unit (CCCU), which oversees the Backflow Prevention Outreach Program, we were told that at this point, nearly three years into the enforcement campaign, the DEP is guessing that over 200,000 buildings will need some sort of backflow preventer to safeguard the city’s water supply, and only a fraction of those have been finished as we write this in June 2013.

Act Now, Don’t Wait

            CCCU inspectors are currently flagging each building that needs a backflow preventer, as they go about their business and see issues. Once a building is flagged, a 30-Day Notice will be generated and mailed out to the owner or manager. Whether you have begun the process at your building yet, whether you have received a 30-Day Notice from the City or not, all property owners and managers should be working on meeting the City’s backflow prevention requirements NOW. Once you’ve received a 30-Day Notice, your building MUST respond to the CCCU with a progress report within those 30 days, proving that you have secured the services of a Licensed Master Plumber (LMP), a Licensed Professional Engineer (PE) or a Registered Architect (RA) to begin the process of installation. We at Varsity have a complete turnkey system to help our clients handle this process, from Day One, with just one simple phone call to 877-VARSITY.

Avoid Surprises: Hire the Right Team

We have heard horror stories from managers who came to us after working with other contractors only to discover that their 30-Day Notices were never responded to and they were now facing violations. Or their engineer and plumber disagreed on what work had to get done and what it might cost. Our team of Licensed Engineers and Master Plumbers has seen thousands of properties since the DEP started the Backflow Prevention Outreach Program. We respond to your needs quickly and professionally, and tell you exactly what is needed to satisfy the CCCU and exactly how much it will cost.

Varsity’s fully licensed team includes an engineer and master plumber to do the analysis, file the plans, install and test the required devices and complete the follow-up paperwork, ensuring that all City codes and regulations are met. At Varsity we provide a one-call solution to this issue, from engineering to installation to compliance to DEP sign-off, simplifying a very complex process for building owners. If your building has already received a 30-Day Notice before you request a proposal from us, we will send out an immediate request for a 30-day compliance extension from DEP. Next, we prepare a specifications proposal based on your building’s needs and configuration. Once the proposal has been accepted by the building, our engineer sends a follow-up letter to the DEP explaining that his services have been retained, the process of compliance is under way, and requesting 90 days more to file the plans and applications. Once the plans are filed and approved by the DEP, the installation can be done. When the installation is complete, Varsity’s Licensed Master Plumber and Professional Engineer perform the required testing and inspection, and file the required reports with DEP and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), which oversees the entire Backflow Prevention program, for final approval. Once this process has been completed, your building is in full compliance with the State and City backflow prevention regulations.

Failure to Comply Can Be Costly

Failure to comply can lead to fines of up to $2,000 and, if ignored, the City can shut off the water supply to the building. According to the DEP, the cost of installation ranges from $3,000 for a one-story building to around $35,000 for high-rises. Buildings with more complicated situations, such as elevated building drains or roof tanks that will require more powerful pumps after backflow prevention devices are installed, can face even higher costs. Because Backflow Preventers cost thousands of dollars, don’t be forced to rush into paying more then you need to just to avoid or cure a DEP violation. By calling Varsity, you will know exactly how much the job will cost you, and can plan those figures into your budget. Then, when you get your 30-day letter, and are on the DEP time clock, you will be ready to start the job and be prepared to pay for it.

Hundreds of co-op and condo buildings, managers and owners have chosen  

Varsity Plumbing to handle their backflow prevention needs because they know we care about their properties, and that we honor our founding principles, established by my father, Bob Bellini, who founded Varsity way back in 1962: do a good job; charge a fair price; stand behind your work; and always keep your word.

For more information on hiring licensed professionals to be sure your building is in compliance, or to request as proposal, contact me, President of Varsity Plumbing, at (718) 358-5400 or email your request to To view our informational video, go to or scan the QR code below.

Scan the QR code to view our video on Backflow Prevention.

Scan the QR code to view our video on Backflow Prevention.

Bobby Bellini explains how a Backflow Preventer stops contaminants from flowing out of a building's water system and into the public drinking water supply.

Bobby Bellini explains how a Backflow Preventer stops contaminants from flowing out of a building’s water system and into the public drinking water supply.

Bobby Bellini Hits a Home Run at Family-Owned Varsity Plumbing

A bit of Varsity history, as seen in Real Estate Weekly, July 3, 2013:

“My father was all about work,” says Bobby Bellini, President of Varsity Plumbing and Heating, the firm his father founded 50 years ago. “He was very regimented. He’d blow reveille in our house about 4:30 in the morning with the most annoying whistle you could possibly imagine.” We’re sitting in the conference room at Varsity’s headquarters in Flushing, Queens, and from the next room comes a trilling whistle. “That’s it!” yells Bobby as the sound comes again from his father’s office down the hall.

“I was the last of the three brothers to join the company, in the Fall of 1985,” says Bobby. “I was in college and then playing professional baseball, but Dad said, ‘You’re coming to work.’ So every day my brothers Ricky and Tommy and I would be roused out of bed by my Dad walking in, switching on the lights, and whistling till we couldn’t take it any more. Then we’d pile into the Suburban and leave every day at 5:10 am. We’d pick up our two neighborhood friends, take turns driving, and arrive at the office by 6:15 to start working.”

Building the Business Through Hard Work

The days were long and hard, and the Bellini brothers often stayed till 7 pm. “He was tough,” Bobby says of his father Bob, “but we built the business that way.”

Bobby was an outfielder with the Baltimore Orioles Minor League system at the time, and he recalls trying to fit in his workouts before and after working 12-hour days. His father would drop him off at a local track to run for an hour before work. After work, he’d practice hitting at the batting cage near his home. But in between practices and training, Bobby and his brothers Rick and Tom, were helping Bob Sr. build the family’s plumbing business.

Family owned and operated since 1962, today Varsity provides a wide range of services to all kinds of properties, from co-ops and condos to rentals and commercial properties. Varsity’s expertise includes plumbing, heating, cooling, sewer and drain cleaning, air and water quality, backflow prevention, pumping systems, and fire sprinkler/standpipe systems. Varsity’s headquarters, located in Flushing, New York, features a 28,000-square-foot office as well as an 8,000-square-foot parts warehouse with over $1 million worth of inventory, enhancing its ability to service its clients at any time of day, without the need to depend on suppliers. Their Long Island operation, Varsity Home Service, has grown to become Long Island’s premiere plumbing, heating and cooling service provider. From their office in Bohemia, they serve a customer base of over 25,000 Long Island homes. Varsity holds Licensed Master Plumber status throughout Long Island, the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester County and the State of New Jersey. They enforce a policy of drug testing, criminal background checks and credit checks for all employees. “We will not send anyone into your home that we would not invite into our home,” Bobby emphasizes.

For years Bobby has served as President of the Master Plumbers Council of the City of New York. Founded in 1889, the organization works closely with the City Buildings Department, City Council, the DEP, other agencies and City representatives to ensure that properties are operated safely and that code regulations are in place and enforced. The Council has been actively involved in initiatives such as backflow prevention, energy efficiency and requirements for using Licensed Master Plumbers to perform these kinds of health and safety-oriented installations and inspections. He remains an active Member for the Council, and is also a Member of the New York City Plumbing Licensing Board.

Supporting the Community

From the early days of Bobby’s involvement with the company, Varsity has supported a number of charities, contributing time and money to fundraising efforts. For nearly 20 years, they have supported the Boomer Esiason Foundation to fight Cystic Fibrosis. Founded in 1994, a year after the NFL quarterback’s son Gunnar was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, the Foundation has raised millions of dollars to help find a cure for this degenerative genetic disorder, as well as providing support for families affected by it.

Growing up in East Islip, Long Island, Bobby and Boomer went to the same high school “He was this 6’4” blond athlete destined to become a superstar, and I was this 5’3” 110 pound sophomore,” Bobby recalls. “We were both on the varsity baseball team, and Boomer took me under his wing, and kind of looked out for me.”

Bobby recalls the first fundraiser Boomer put together for the Foundation at the Irish Coffee Pub in East Islip. “Varsity contributed $5,000, and the event raised about $16,000.” Since then the organization has raised over $100 million, with funding support from business such as Varsity, along with national corporations and caring individuals.

Bobby teamed up with Boomer once again for a recent celebrity baseball fundraiser at the new Yankee Stadium against former Yankee greats. “We won 11-2,” says Bobby of his team, Boomers Bombers, which also included former Mets pitcher John Franco, Craig Carton, who co-hosts Boomer & Carton on WFAN, former NHL great Doug Weight and former NBA great Wally Szczerbiak. The opposing team included former Yankees such as outfielder Mickey Rivers, second baseman Homer Bush, Lee Mazzilli and General Manager Brian Cashman.

In addition to supporting the Boomer Esiason Foundation, Varsity has organized a food drive for “Long Island Harvest,” sponsored Little League and other local sports teams, and supports local churches, synagogues, and Fire Departments.

It’s a Family Affair

In addition to supporting meaningful charities and building relationships and trust with his customers, one of Bobby’s top priorities is family. His father Bob still visits the office nearly every day, and his brothers Rick and Tom, both Vice Presidents, are there daily as well. His brother-in-law, Mike Lyons, serves as Chief Financial Officer, and his sister Theresa manages the office of Varsity Home Services, their Long Island operation in Bohemia. Bobby’s daughter Erica worked at the company for a couple of years before setting off on her own.

Bobby still lives in Suffolk County, Long Island, near where he grew up, and still spends much of his down time enjoying the company of his family. On weekends and holidays, the siblings, their father, kids and various cousins often head up to the Finger Lakes region for fishing, quad riding, hiking and other outdoor activities.

“The most important thing for me is to continue building relationships with our customers by earning their trust and their confidence,” says Bobby. “Throughout the past 51 years, we have always remained true to the founding principles my father subscribed to when he started the business back in 1962: Do a good job, charge a fair price, stand behind your work, and always keep your word.”

That may sound like a simple formula, but it is that kind of an attitude that separates Varsity from their competitors.  How many times have you found yourself dealing with a contractor who has done a less than satisfactory job, and trying to get them to come back out to your building to fix their work? More often than you’d like, that’s for sure. “We try to treat every project like it is our own job, “ says Bellini, “we try and get it right the first time, and if there is an issue, we get right back on it until it is done correctly. We feel a sense of responsibility towards our clients, many of whom have been with us for years. We still have clients that started out hiring my Dad back in 1962, and now we are serving their children.”

Bobby Bellini (Number 24) played with "Boomers Bombers" against former Yankees players at Yankee Stadium to raise money for the Boomer Esiason Foundation to fight Cystic Fibrosis. With Bobby, from left to right, Craig Carton of WFAN, former Mets pitcher John Franco, and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason.

Bobby Bellini (Number 24) played with “Boomers Bombers” against former Yankees players at Yankee Stadium to raise money for the Boomer Esiason Foundation to fight Cystic Fibrosis. With Bobby, from left to right, Craig Carton of WFAN, former Mets pitcher John Franco, and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason.

Bobby and Mr Met

Bobby Bellini celebrates Varsity’s 50th Anniversary with Mr. Met, clients, friends and family, at Citifield last summer.



Bobby Bellini, President of Varsity Plumbing and Heating, Inc.

50th anniversary