John Buttz is a self-described work addict. He also knows how to install a radiant heating system. Right now, he is just glad to be home.
“The hospitality in Corydon hasn’t changed at all,” Buttz says. “Small town living is much more personable. I grew up here for a portion of my life, and look forward to giving back to the community. After spending many years in a metropolitan area, I realize the benefits of being in a small town. Everyone is much more personable and helpful when you need it.”
In 1992, Buttz moved from Chariton to Corydon, where he graduated from Wayne Community High School in 1995 with Jared Chambers.
“I have so many relationships with people here in the community,” Buttz says. “The one that stands out most, and has continued through all the years being away from Corydon, is Jared Chambers. Not only have we done business together, but we’ve been great friends since school. Jared has always been there for me to discuss business ideas, personal issues and he always gives me great advice. He is very encouraging, upbeat and optimistic with everything, and he will always give me his honest opinion on anything I ask him.
“The two teachers at Wayne who I really enjoyed and respected were Stan Rupe and Loris Lash. I enjoyed Mr. Lash’s Ag class—it gave me a lot of skill in the mechanics of small engines, welding and agriculture in general that still helps me today. Mr. Rupe was personable and fun to be around.”
Local plumber Ron Mehrhoff also served as a professional guide.
“Ron and I have a great friendship,” Buttz says. “I played paintball with him. He taught me a lot about the HVAC side during my time at Clayton Plumbing & Heating. Ron has helped me in so many ways on so many different levels. After moving back from Kansas City, I was able to work with him and learn much more about the heating and air conditioning side of things.”
During summers, Buttz worked for his uncle, Alan Atcheson, in Kansas on new construction and remodeling plumbing jobs. He learned plumbing codes and regulations on how to install plumbing systems correctly. These were early lessons that remain with Buttz today.
Buttz spent much of his time away from high school working on electrical and heating projects for Richard Mason of Fry Company in Millerton. At first, when he was looking for work during the summer of 1992, Mason told him he didn’t really need any help.
“I told him I was willing to do anything for him, and that I wanted to learn,” Buttz says. “Richard finally gave me a chance. He put me to work fixing hydraulic hoses, bailer belts, small engines, grain dryer motors and grain bin stir-ators, cattle waterers and many other things. I also did plumbing repair, replaced water heaters, worked on shallow and deep wells. I worked on hanging heaters, furnaces, air conditioners and electrical.
“It was then I realized there was so much to learn in each individual trade, that I decided to focus more on plumbing. My opportunities would be endless. I looked up to Richard. He gave me a chance to prove myself, and without that chance, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Today, Buttz has earned what is equivalent to a master’s degree in plumbing. Starting out as an apprentice, he was often tested by the men he worked with.
“I vividly remember a time the guys put PVC glue on the bottoms of my shoes while I was on a ladder and lighting them on fire. Also, I got pushed down the street in a portable toilet by a backhoe.” But Buttz gave it back when he got an apprentice of his own. “I told him that I wanted a pair of pipe stretchers from the truck. It was funny to watch him spend 15 minutes looking for something that doesn’t exist.”
Buttz attended a four-year apprenticeship program through Associated Builders and Contractors of Iowa.
“The qualifications to achieve your master’s, or journeyman’s license, are different now than what they used to be. At the time, in order for me to receive the master’s license, the Department of Labor required 8,000 hours of on-the-job training. Then you could sit for your license. With the previous experience that I had received during my time at Fry Company and Atcheson Plumbing, I was able to take my journeyman’s test my second year of the apprenticeship program. I decided, during my fourth year of the apprenticeship program, to sit for my master’s license, which I passed.”
Buttz currently holds a master’s license in plumbing, HVAC and hydronics with the State of Iowa. He is a certified installer of wastewater treatment systems with the National Environmental Health Association. He is also recognized by the Department of Public Safety to install residential fire sprinklers.
He moved back to Corydon last Dec. 1. He is sole proprietor of Southern Iowa Plumbing, with his house as his home office.
“I cover Wayne, Lucas, Appanoose, Decatur and Monroe Counties, and I offer all types of plumbing repair, replacement as well as remodeling and new construction. I can take care of anything from a drippy faucet, to plumbing a new home from start to finish. I’m also able to work on residential boilers and install radiant floor heat systems.
“I was able to hit the ground running in Corydon, with much thanks to Ron Mehrhoff, as I have been able to help him with calls. I’m also taking care of the maintenance at Murphy Place and Elgin Housing as well as Prairie Trails Dental and Public Health offices.
“I love helping people, that is the most important thing. Every job is different, and with every call being something new, I never know what the next job is going to bring me.”
In Buttz’ spare time, he enjoys camping with his four sons, Dawson, 15, Cadan, 10, and six-year-old twins Greyson and Hudson—when he and his ex-wife were expecting their third child and hoping for a girl, they got twin boys instead.
“Helping my family is a hobby for me. I used to be into hunting. That is a benefit of being home—I’ll be able to do more of that as time goes on. I have also enjoyed being close to family—my mom, dad and sister are here. I’m glad to be home.”