SAN FRANCISCO – When conversing with Michael Ciofalo, one might think he was a scientist rather than a plumber, but as he explains, these two professions aren’t as different as they may seem. “If you think about it, plumbing holds to a lot of the same principles as human anatomy. For example, the heart pumps blood through a circulatory system under pressure, which is similar to how some plumbing systems work.” Indeed, as a 30-year veteran of the industry, Michael not only defies its more common stereotypes, he also emphasizes the underappreciated versatility of what he terms “a thinker’s trade.” “The great thing about plumbing is you can do whatever you want with it,” he says. “You can stop at replacing faucets and unclogging toilets, but you can also embrace the practically endless applications of newer technologies.”
Michael got his start in the industry following high school, when he and a close friend began an apprenticeship with a local plumbing company. He recalls the carefree spirit of his early days in the field: “I was an art major in high school, and for the first decade that I did plumbing, it was art. Most of it ended up buried behind walls, but we would often leave our mark by soldering our names on the outsides of pipes.” Over time, however, Michael began to gain an appreciation for the more technical aspects of the job. As he advanced in his career, he became interested in new technologies like tankless water heaters and forced air heating. After 20 years of acquiring valuable industry experience, Michael struck out on his own and founded Professor Plumb in 2003.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Michael continues to reside in the City by the Bay with his wife and company co-operator, Eve, to whom he refers as “the brains of the operation.” He says while he appreciates many of the attributes that make San Francisco a world-renowned location, one aspect he particularly enjoys is the food. “It’s a pretty amazing place if you like cuisine. From high-end eateries like Gary Danko to hidden gems like Ganim’s, we have quite a variety of options, and there are always new places popping up.”
In addition to trying out new dining establishments, Michael devotes much of his free time to being outdoors. “Whether it’s backpacking in the mountains, rowing out on the bay or just taking an after-work stroll through McLaren Park with my wife, I always take advantage of the opportunity to be outside.” Fittingly, when asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Michael says he’d gear up for the ultimate backpacking trip. “I would hike the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches from Mexico to Canada. I’ve hiked parts of it before, but one day I’d like to tackle the whole thing.”