Clean. Courteous. Professional.
Kurt and Dana Koegel pride themselves on professional service and specialize in large and small hydronic heating systems (boilers), bathroom remodels and cabin openings and closings. Photo by Jim Palmer
When Kurt and Dana Koegel launched Koegel Plumbing and Heating Solutions, LLC., in 2012, these three words were a natural fit as their tagline.
“Something I believe is lacking in our industry is professionalism,” said Kurt. “It doesn’t take much to be clean, courteous or professional.”
Being clean is a basic value, said Kurt, yet it is often times ignored by many in the industry.
“If people come in and find the workspace cleaner than when you found it, they find that shocking,” he said.
“Some people will call and ask, ‘Were you here?’ said Dana. “They can’t believe the area is clean.”
Being courteous starts by respecting a customer’s time.
“We call ahead, we stick to that time, and we show up on time,” said Kurt. “It is just common courtesy.”
And the Koegels pride themselves on professionalism.
“I don’t do shortcuts. I am a professional. I’m licensed and insured. I adhere to that level of service. I will give you options to stay in the budget, but we can’t band aid things — it is just not professional,” said Kurt. “The service we provide has to work for everyone. It has to make them happy and be valuable to them, and it has to work for us so we stay in business. It is a relationship. That makes for good business and happy customers.”
Professionalism sets Koegel Plumbing and Heating Solutions apart, but it’s not the only thing.
“We believe in upfront pricing. A lot of guys will charge you time and material (at the end),” said Kurt. “I was taught to give people the price up front because you should know what materials you need and how long it should take. Just like at a garage, or a dentist, every other business. We assess the problem, give you a price and that is the amount you pay. If something unexpected comes up, then you cross that bridge, but if there are no surprises, the amount you see at the beginning is the price you pay in the end. We feel upfront pricing is more fair to our customers. They know exactly what they are getting into from the start.”
Koegel specializes in plumbing and hydronic heating (water heating). They do not work with new construction. Instead, they focus their attention on remodels and repairs. “Anything to do with water, we can take care of,” said Kurt.
Kurt has been in the plumbing industry for nearly 30 years. He started as a teenager working for his uncle in the summers. His dad was a plumber, his two uncles were plumbers, and he also had two cousins who were plumbers. He was trained in the union and performed his five-year apprenticeship at a young age. He then earned his Master’s license in plumbing, the highest designation in the industry.
“I have been around the industry a long time, and I have seen many different things,” said Kurt, who has always been drawn to service work and repairs.
“I really like service work because there is a lot of interaction with the customer,” he said. “You are solving an immediate problem. Problems come up and that brings a person’s world to a stop. You get to be the hero, which is satisfying.”
He also likes the pure challenge of solving those problems, which are different in each house, business or cabin he walks into.
“You might be dealing with something that is 5 years old, or 100 years old, and you need to figure out how to fix it. I like that. Every day is different, and every job is different,” he said.
Kurt is passionate about the work he does, and that passion shines through when he talks about boilers. This includes regular radiator boilers, in-floor heating and large commercial-size boilers. “We really don’t work with forced-air systems. We specialize in the boiler side of heating,” he said.
That passion for boilers has resulted in a good reputation and even awards for his boiler work. One prestigious award received by Koegel was the for the work Kurt did on Calvary Lutheran Church in Alexandria.
“Calvary Lutheran Church has been around a long time and had been tinkered with many times over the years,” he said, “They had a boiler system that they were having problems with. During the winter of 2013-2014, they had 14 outages. The head of the building committee, Dave, had been going to the church every morning at 5:30 a.m. to see if the church had heat. They had tried different things over the years and were getting fed up.”
The church called 17 different contractors to access their system. They selected Koegel for his expertise and overall plan.
Kurt Koegel in the basement of Calvary Lutheran Church in Alexandria. Koegel revamped the entire boiler system in two weeks, giving the church even and reliable heat and earning himself an Excellence Award from Caleffi in 2014. Photo by Jim Palmer
“I spent a day at the church and figured out what was done and made a roadmap in my mind of what needed to be done to find a solution,” he said. “I analyzed the current system, traced each pipe and wrapped my head around the project.”
In just two weeks, Koegel had ripped out the old system and installed a new system, providing the church with even and reliable heat in all areas of the building. “It has been going strong for two seasons and no issues,” said Kurt.
For his work, Koegel received the Contractor Excellence Award in 2014 from Caleffi, a hydronic component manufacturer, and was featured prominently in Contractor Magazine.
Koegel’s love of boilers first developed in apprentice school, when he learned about the history of boiler systems.
“I think I was drawn it it because it was so challenging at first, kind of a mystery,” he said. “Once you learn, you really appreciate the history and engineering behind boilers and hydronics.”
He explained some of that history. “During the early 1900s, those boiler systems would move hot water from the basement up through the floor without a pump because there was no electricity. They would use gravity. Hot water rises and cold water falls. So they were pretty darn smart to figure that out,” he said. “The reason they started using hot water is because the old steam systems were dangerous. There was a point where there was a steam boiler explosion every four days in the U.S. Hot water boilers started being made because they were much safer. I love the history of it and the physics of hot water boiler systems.”
One of Koegel’s other specialties is bathroom remodels and repairs. Bathrooms, he said, are “probably the most dangerous room in the house.”
The Koegels take pride in making bathrooms safe by designing them to meet the needs of their customers both today and into the future.
“We can add grab bars, raise the height of the toilet, install a low threshold shower that is easy to use and add other accessibility options,” he said.
Kurt’s first accessible bathroom remodel was actually for his mother 12 years ago.
“From that remodel, I learned a lot,” he said. “My parents had a traditional bathroom and we did a variety of things to help so she could maneuver in the bathroom. When she went to a wheelchair, we made the vanity so she could roll under it to use the sink. We changed the faucets to lever handles, replaced the tub with the roll-in shower and just made things easier for her to maneuver when she was in the bathroom.”
Sometimes a bathroom doesn’t need a full overhaul, just a few tweaks, to make it much safer.
“We do small things, too, not just large scale renovations,” he said. “Sometimes all you need are some grab bars or a higher toilet.”
Another popular service provided by Koegel is the opening and closing of cabins, something that is on the mind of many cabin owners this time of year.
The Koegels can take the stress out of opening and closing a seasonal cabin. They use compressed air to clean out pipes to prevent frozen and broken pipes over the winter. They give cabin owners piece of mind and cover all their bases.
“One common area that that is missed during a cabin closing is the little water line that is used for water and ice on the fridge,” said Kurt. “We can take that line and use compressed air to clean out the lines completely. Just a little water trapped in that line could result in a big puddle and water damage in the spring.”
From Jersey to the Lakes Area
The Koegels live in Miltona, but their roots extend to the East Coast.
“Dana and I grew up in New Jersey and had came out here on vacation to visit family several times,” he said. “We actually got engaged on vacation at the gazebo at Sauk Lake. As a kid, I was out here every summer, visiting my grandma (Lena Wessel) in Sauk Centre, so I sort of grew up out here in the summers.”
Kurt and Dana loved their time in Minnesota and decided to move here about 12 years ago.
“We wanted a better life for our girls,” he said. “It is a great place to raise a family and we were able to be closer to my family, too.”
Kurt worked as a technician and then a supervisor for Ellingson Plumbing & Heating in Alexandria. He then worked for Solar Skies, a manufacturer of solar thermal collectors in Alexandria.
“After six years at Solar Skies, I had the opportunity to start my own business in 2012,” said Kurt. “I basically had $10,000, a pick-up truck and some hand tools. Dana gave me a year. She said if it is not self-supporting in a year then we have to figure out something else.”
He started doing jobs for family and friends, building networks and establishing his reputation. Word spread, and soon Kurt’s schedule got to be a little too much for one guy.
“He was working all day and doing paperwork all night,” said Dana. “I started doing some paperwork for him to help him through.”
This past April, Dana left her job as an LPN at Douglas County Hospital and joined the business full time. She takes care of the office and helps out in the field when needed.
“Dana was jackhammering concrete while I was doing something else at a job site, and the lady there thought it was the best thing ever,” he laughed.
“It turns out that concreting is just like icing a cake,” smiled Dana.
The two had some practice working together. Their first house was a fixer upper, and the two worked hard to get it all fixed up.
“We totally gutted our first house, said Kurt. “Lots of sweat equity in that one. And the reward was we got to buy a better house in Minnesota.”
If you would like to learn more about the services of Koegel Plumbing & Heating Solutions or would like them to give you an estimate on a project, big or small, call 320-766-6767 or visit their Web page at www.koegelsolutions.com. The Koegels service area is about a 60-mile radius around Miltona.