Earl Moise, one of the best-known master plumbers in Lawrence, hasn’t always lived here.
He spent his childhood in the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, and persevered through teenage years marked by discrimination and the frantic pace of Brooklyn. He started a family and moved around the world with them, from Europe to Japan to Seattle. When Moise finally settled down in Lawrence 15 years ago, he had no idea he’d start his own business here — Rising Son Plumbing — and become as successful as he is today.
Moise has been passionate about the craft, also known as “environmental control technology,” ever since graduating from high school.
“My dad had a buddy who needed help at his plumbing business, so I decided to give it a try. From the first hour I started working with those tools, I knew I’d found my calling,” Moise says.
With each pipe he hand-cut, he fell more and more in love … and less in love with his original plan of going to school for engineering.
“My dad tried everything he could to get me to go back to college, but I loved plumbing so much,” Moise says. “That passion has stayed with me, and it all started by mistake. I was given an opportunity and now it’s turned into a lifelong greatness.”
In 2012, Moise earned his master plumber’s license from Johnson County Community College, thanks to the help of another student he first met at Dillons. She agreed to tutor him for a meager price of M&Ms and coffee.
As a master plumber, he wasn’t satisfied commuting and working late nights for the bigger companies in Lawrence and Kansas City anymore. So when Moise took the leap to start his own business, he tapped into the lessons he’d gained from past experiences.
“When I was young and working for a company in Brooklyn, those guys made a lasting impression on me,” he says. “The way they carried themselves: the pants, the belt, always trim with a fresh haircut. It’s not just about the presentation of yourself, but also how you talk to people. I always pride myself on being able to have conversations with all my customers.”
That commitment to customer service may set Rising Son Plumbing apart from its competition, which is a critical advantage in such a small market. But at the end of the day, their success comes down to their other services, too. Rising Son offers the typical plumbing services, along with special expertise in rough-ins, brazing, service calls, and work on radiant heat systems, for both residential and commercial clients.
With so many skills, Moise is like a Swiss army knife. But the blade is double-edged.
When Rising Son was a solo show, sometimes Moise would make mistakes because he didn’t have people around him to help. That’s why he’s spent years curating the right team. Moise currently has four employees, and he’s only hoping to grow.
“A lot of people just want a job. I’m not looking for that person. I want someone who wants a future, who really wants to partner up and become great,” he says.
Moise is proud to call Lawrence home, especially now that he’s looking for trusted partners to help him grow the Rising Son Plumbing business. He sees this town as a melting pot, much like Brooklyn, because of the diversity and abundance of opportunities.
Rising Son may be small, but Moise says it’s not the size of the company that matters — it’s the size of your heart — when it comes to making an impact. Not only is Moise using his business as a platform to give back to the community, like offering discounted rates for organizations such as the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, but he’s also using his own positive attitude to make a difference.
“It’s a domino effect,” Moise explains. “If I have that positive attitude and share that with the next person, and they spread that to everyone else they see downtown or whatever, imagine how much you can spread that light and impact everyone else’s life.”
For Moise, this is an especially important part of celebrating his identity as a Black business owner.
“When I first came here and got into the plumbing business, I looked around and didn’t see anyone like me. So I had to create my own narrative. I’m always trying to be a good representation of what I think is one of the best trades out there,” Moise says.
Moise’s positivity is a light that’s always shined, even throughout the hardships he’s faced in life. His move to Lawrence was actually the result of the most difficult situation Moise has ever experienced — his divorce — but he says it’s made him the person and father he is today.
“What does Rising Son mean? When I was going through my divorce, I felt like I was buried. But starting my business gave me confidence,” Moise says. “I’m a Christian, so the only man I know who’s risen from the grave is God. The comparison is not me saying I’m God, but it’s that in spite of your flaws and setbacks, you can still rise. And my love of plumbing has allowed me to rise.”
Find Rising Son Plumbing’s website at this link.
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Jordan Winter (she/her), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, is a 2019 KU grad with degrees in journalism and political science.