TEST OF TIME: “We are proud to carry on the tradition of the family business, and to continue to bring the same high quality of service to our customers that we have always been known for.” Bruce Jefferson, owner of N.C. Jefferson Plumbing, Heating, and A/C and his daughter Jill Jefferson-Miller, owner of Jefferson Bath & Kitchen, are shown in the company’s showroom.
By Jean Stratton
You have certainly seen those cheerful yellow trucks around town. A signature sign that the N.C. Jefferson Plumbing, Heating, and A/C experts are on the job.
What you may not know is that the company has actually been on the job for 75 years! Now celebrating that landmark anniversary, the firm remains family-owned and dedicated to prompt, reliable service, quality products, and conscientious customer attention.
Opened in 1947 by Norton C. Jefferson, the company established its first office in the family’s Valley Road home.
“My dad had worked for Princeton University for a while, doing a variety of things, including plumbing and carpentry,” recalls Bruce Jefferson, now owner of the business. “After he left the University, he focused on plumbing, and then established his own business.”
Jefferson remembers learning about the plumbing business at an early age. “My dad had me doing the inventory when I was a boy. I’d count the pipes, tools, fittings, and other supplies. When I was around 12, I washed the trucks, and also helped put on the snow tires in the winter. I thought that was pretty cool.”
After graduating from college, Jefferson worked in other areas for a while, but his heart was in the family business, and he returned full time in 1986. He obtained his master plumber’s license, which required four years of night school while also working on the job as an apprentice. Then he had to work two additional years before he could take the test to become a master plumber.
Plumbing and heating services have been available since the company’s beginnings, and air conditioning was added 25 years ago. In addition, the company installs dishwashers and water heaters.
It is a given that we will all need a plumber at some time. Stopped up toilets, leaking faucets, flooded basements, lost rings or other jewelry down the drain — you name it, it will happen!
Bruce Jefferson has seen it all, and though in certain respects the business has changed, with technological advances, new products and materials, much remains the same.
“Leaking faucets and running toilets are among the most common problems,” he points out. “We also have to deal with flooding after a lot of rain, and we are always called upon to find lost items that may have gone down the drain or stopped up the toilet.
Toys in the Toilet
“We have had to get rings and earrings out of the drain and toys out of the toilet. We discovered that one little boy was having fun flushing his Tonka toys down the toilet. We also found several toothbrushes in another toilet, and finally, the mother said the kid just didn’t want to brush his teeth!”
Really odd things have turned up as well, he says. “We found a woman’s wig in one pipe, and another time, a pair of boxer shorts. According to the story, the husband in the house said, ‘I don’t wear boxer shorts!’”
That story was not followed up, and the outcome is unknown.
Jefferson reports still other unusual findings, including animal life and remains, during his work. “We found a snake outside in the air conditioning unit, as well as mice and squirrels.” No alligators, raccoons, or coyotes, however.
Residential work is the company’s main focus, although some commercial projects are also part of the job.
Additional services such as helping with sewer line replacement and water service are also available. As he explains, “Every house has a water service line and a sewer service line. We can help with main water line repair and replacement between the street and the house.”
Clients are from all over Princeton and the surrounding area, and many are longstanding, says Jefferson. “Lots of our customers are now second, even third generation. They know they can count on us, and we are available 24/7. We have a very loyal clientele, and we also have a wonderful staff of longtime employees. Some have been with us for 10 and 15 years, and one was here for 30 years before retiring.”
Working with Dad
Both N.C. Jefferson Plumbing, Heating, and A/C and its affiliated company Jefferson Bath & Kitchen are located at 29 Airpark Road, second floor.
Opened in 1989, the Bath & Kitchen division has become a separate business, now owned by Jill Jefferson-Miller, who joined the company in 2004. She is pleased to be part of the continuing family business, and as she says, “It is special to be able to work with my dad.”
With her background in earth and environmental science and geology, Jefferson-Miller is in a unique position to introduce customers to the newest environmentally-friendly products and to help them with their choices.
She is able to explain and advise about a wide range of considerations, from energy efficiency to the facts and aesthetics of natural stone countertops, sinks, and tubs.
As in everything, trends come and go, and currently, large bathrooms, bigger tile, and hand-held showers are in demand. In addition, Jefferson-Miller points out that “People like matte black faucets, rectangular sinks, and brushed brass fixtures.”
The options in every area are truly remarkable, and nowhere is it more amazing than in the choice of toilets. A far cry from the days of the “convenience,” the “necessary,” “privy,” and “outhouse,” this very functional product has undergone a transformation almost like no other.
“Bidet seats for your toilet are a very big deal right now,” reports Jefferson-Miller. “They can both wash and dry, and some have seated heats, automatic open/close lids, and even a night light.”
All the new toilets use 1.28 or 1.0 gallons per flush, compared to the 3.5 gallons used in the past.
Because all these options are “overflowing,” it is very helpful to have the expert advice and guidance of Jefferson-Miller. Both she and her father point out that given the widespread information on the internet, people can sometimes be misled by what they have seen.
“There is a challenge today with people going to websites and then having unrealistic expectations about price ranges and installation. Prices can vary significantly in different parts of the country.”
Whether people are coming in for a new toilet, a new shower head, sink, or even a total bathroom renovation, Jefferson Bath & Kitchen will provide what the client needs. During the height of the pandemic, when many people were working from home, the number of remodels and renovations increased, and people were looking for new ideas.
“Installing a new bathroom is a complicated process,” she notes, “and we are the only bath and kitchen business that is connected to a plumbing company. We will install everything you buy, and we know how things work. We only sell items of high quality.”
Top-of-the-line products include Grohe, Jaclo, Kohler, Newport Brass, Moen, Stone Forest, Barclay Products, and Woodpro cabinetry, among many others.
“While we don’t get highly involved in kitchen design, we love working as the general contractor on kitchen projects,” adds Jefferson-Miller. “We work with local showrooms for the kitchen design, and provide kitchen sinks and faucets, which are displayed in our showroom.”
As an honored mainstay in Princeton for three quarters of a century, N.C. Jefferson Plumbing, Heating, and A/C has been noted for its charitable work over the years. Helping organizations and giving back to the community has been a major priority for the company.
As Bruce Jefferson and Jill Jefferson-Miller look forward to the years ahead, they plan, as they say, “to keep up to date with the new products and the new technology. At the same time, we will continue to offer the same standard of excellent service our customers have always counted on.”
And adds Bruce Jefferson, “I enjoy the fact that every day is different. A new job, a new client, a new location.”
For more information or appointments, call (609) 924-3624.