SANTA ROSA − As a fourth-generation industry professional, you might say that Gary Packard has plumbing in his blood. “My great-grandfather was a plumber in Salt Lake City, my grandfather was a plumber in Idaho, and my dad spent more than 40 years plumbing in Oregon and California,” he says. “I started going on jobsites with my dad when I was six or seven years old. I guess you could say I was born into it.”
While he hadn’t originally planned to follow in the path of his forebears, Gary still managed to find his way into the family trade. “To be honest, I didn’t want to be a plumber, but I just kept getting drawn back into it,” he laughs. “In the mid-1980s, Oregon was going through a major economic downturn, and jobs were scarce. I was working as a sticker maker when my father told me about a plumbing company in the Bay Area that was hiring. It sounded like a good opportunity, so I decided to give plumbing another shot. Twenty-eight years later, I’m still doing it!”
Today, as operations manager of MAPLEService, Inc., Gary says his favorite part of his job is guiding customers toward a positive outcome. “I enjoy talking to homeowners, getting to know them and helping them make good choices. Rather than pressuring them to buy particular products or services, I prefer to educate them about their different options so they can make informed decisions.”
Originally from Oregon, Gary lived in West Sonoma County for many years before recently relocating to Windsor, where he lives with his wife, Darlene. When asked his favorite thing about life in the Bay Area, he says he appreciates the diversity of the local land- and cityscapes. “I like the fact that I can go from a big city like San Francisco to the Russian River or the redwoods within the span of an hour or so.”
Outside of work, Gary spends much of his time in nature, whether hiking at Shiloh Ridge or fishing at local reservoirs. “I also enjoy coaching youth sports—over the last 25 years, I’ve coached everything from little league baseball to varsity high school football,” he says. “I appreciate the opportunity it gives me to be a positive influence on young people.” Additionally, Gary takes time to keep up with his two sons: Randall, who coaches a professional baseball team in Germany, and Dallas, who is currently working as a plumber while attending college.
In his life and career, Gary espouses a maxim he often references while coaching youth sports: Live life with your heart, hustle and pride. “In addition to sharing that with my players, it’s something I’ve experienced in my own life,” he says. “When I was first hired at MAPLEService, I started at the bottom, digging holes and jack-hammering concrete. Today, I have my own desk and I’m supervising jobs. By staying true to my heart, hustling on the job and taking pride in my work, I was able to achieve my goals.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Gary says he’d withdraw to a more tranquil environment. “Living in California, the one thing I miss is experiencing seasons, where you can tell what time of year it is simply by looking out the window. So, if I quit working tomorrow, the first thing I’d do is start looking for a nice little retirement place in an area with a slower pace of life than what we’re accustomed to in the Bay Area.”