CANTON — Gary Boesker can hardly remember a time before he was at his father’s side, bringing him tools to fix leaky pipes.

“You just can’t not get on the job when you’re a kid,” Gary Boesker said.

Boesker Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, and Electric Inc., 101 N. First St. in Canton, is marking its 50th year in business this month.

“I contribute all of my success to my faith in Jesus Christ,” Gary Boesker said. “I wouldn’t have anything without him.”

Turning a part-time gig into a thriving family business, Willard Boesker taught his son, Gary, the plumbing trade.

“He started out of the back of a pickup with some shovels and a couple of pipe wrenches,” Boesker said.

In turn, Gary Boesker taught his son, Tyler, the trade.

“I enjoy working with him,” Gary Boesker said.

Gary Boesker’s wife, Cheryl, is also involved and keeps the books for the business.

“It’s good to have her to help me out all the time,” Gary Boesker said.

Willard Boesker sold his farm in 1986, building a new structure at 107 W. Allen in Canton for the business. Twelve years later, he died in a boating accident.

“I’d worked with him 10 years; got my feet on the ground and began learning what we needed to do,” Gary Boesker said.

“After he passed suddenly, I was president overnight, essentially, and I was either going to sink or swim.”

The family quickly realized they would need to diversify in order to succeed.

“In a small town, you can’t just do plumbing because there’s not enough plumbing work and you’ve got to share with everyone else, too, because not everyone hires you,” Boesker said.

Boesker now provide services for plumbing, HVAC systems, mold testing, certified home inspections, electrical systems, water wells, sewer cleaning and drain cleaning, and radon testing and mitigation

“No matter where you live, you have radioactive gas,” Gary Boesker said. “Once I test the radon levels in your home, I can interpret the results and then tell you whether or not you’ve got a problem. If you do, then we go into an abatement process.”

Boesker now operates out of a large garage space attached to family’s home.

Inside, rows of shelves hold plumbing supplies for the Boesker’s to grab as needed, saving them — and their customers — precious time.

“It’s rewarding to know there are families that are going to have heat through the weekend because of my efforts,” Gary Boesker said.

Going with the flow is something Gary Boesker learned early on, as he noted there are times he has more work than he and his son can handle and other times he waits for the phone to ring.

The Boeskers travel all over central Kansas, working on homes, churches and commercial buildings.

“There’s a knack to working with old buildings; they’re so much different,” Gary Boesker noted.

A plumber never knows what he or she will find hidden behind the walls of a building.

“I see things that people from the past have put there that were important to them,” Gary Boesker said.

One memorable find occurred when he tackled a project at Hillsboro High School.

“We were doing a plumbing project there,” Gary Boesker said. “We tore out the walls, and in the wall were beer cans.”

Then there are the creatures that make the dark, damp places around pipes their home.

“We see skunks and snakes and everything in between,” Gary Boesker said. “Rats, mice; packrats are some of the worst visitors because they do the most destruction quickly.”

Gary Boesker said he is also experienced in extracting snakes from hand-dug wells after tackling three such projects in the span of a year.

“I’d pretty much gotten good at it,” Gary Boesker laughed.

While much has changed for the Boeskers in the past 50 years, one thing that stays the same is their desire to stay in Canton.

“I don’t want to go to a big city,” Gary Boesker said. “...Out here, everybody knows you.”

For more information about Boesker Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, and Electric, Inc., visit https://www.boeskerservices.com or call 800-646-0064. 

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at pmiddleton@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.