Written by Mike Flenniken 9:53 pm Column, Member Profile

Finding Purpose in Plumbing 


Christian Prado had a job. He wanted a career. 

After graduating from high school and briefly attending community college, Prado spent nearly a decade working for an armored car company. Then a friend told him about an opportunity that would change his life. 

Ocean Park Mechanical was looking for plumbing laborers for a project in downtown Los Angeles. What really caught Prado’s attention was the knowledge that workers who stood out would be considered for sponsorship in the UA Local 78 plumbing apprenticeship program. 

After initially performing such tasks as sweeping floors, he earned the opportunity to prepare bathtubs for installation. 

“I outworked the rest of my colleagues and was recognized for my hard work and determination, and eventually got sponsored by Ocean Park Mechanical,” Prado said. “They put me in charge of all of the tubs and shower pans — the inspections, installation, testing, everything — as a pre-apprentice.” 

He is now a fifth-year apprentice who will  become a journeyman plumber in early 2024. 

For most of 2023, Prado has worked for Davis Construction Co. on a project that features two large buildings that are connected by a sort of bridge. He divides his time between waste and vent, potable water, angle stops and finishing fixtures. 

“I’m kind of everywhere,” he said. “He’s giving me a lot of responsibility to go here, fix that, install this. I’m kind of doing everything.” 

Prado is also taking courses at a community college to earn his Associate of Science degree in Water Technology so he can become licensed by the California Water Resource Board, and he recently completed the ASSE/IAPMO/ANSI 12080 for Legionella Water Safety and Management Personnel training program. 

He regularly attends meetings at the UPPA–Long Beach and California Southern P/M chapters. He said he tries to go to as many as possible. He appreciates the knowledge he obtains about the ever-evolving codes, as well as the vendors who appear at the meetings. 

“All of the feedback, the information that is given there is valuable for us to apply in our trade on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “I tell my buddies at my union, or even those I’m working with, that they should try to attend.” 

Prado’s long-term career goal is to become a plumbing inspector. 

“I want to help fellow plumbers and make sure they’re doing it right, because you don’t want anybody to get hurt. Especially with waste and vent; you don’t want sewer gases in their living quarters,” he said. “As far as water, you don’t want anybody to get burned. 

I want to make sure everything is up to code and following IAPMO guidelines, rules and regulations, and make sure the quality of work is top notch.” 

Prado and his wife, Stacy, have a 17-year-old son named Chris and a 5-year-old daughter named Juliana. Away from work, he likes spending time with his family, working out, and working on his 1970 Chevrolet Nova. 

Prado and his wife, Stacy, with their son Chris and daughter Juliana.

Before he joined the plumbing apprenticeship program, Prado said he was just working 9 to 5 every day for a paycheck. Now he helps protect the public’s health and safety, and his future is bright. 

“If I wouldn’t have gone into plumbing, I’d have continued to feel stuck at my previous job. And now that I’ve gotten into plumbing, the different branches I can go into, and learned about IAPMO, it’s been awesome. I’ve been able to make myself more valuable.” 

Mike Flenniken
Staff Writer at IAPMO

Mike Flenniken is a staff writer, Marketing and Communications, for IAPMO. Prior to joining IAPMO in 2010, Flenniken worked in public relations for a group of Southern California hospitals and as a journalist in writing and editing capacities for various Southern California daily newspapers.

Last modified: December 21, 2023