Don’t look now but there’s a foundation civil war brewing in the Cowtown…
One one side, stands a gentleman named Otto Fleck, the owner of a company called Dry Basement. On the other looks to be made up of about anybody else who wants to use the words "dry" and "basement" and/or the color yellow in their foundation repair biz.
Which brings us to a front page story last week in the Star that ran under the headline "Foundation repair companies scrap in court over trucks’ color."
Fleck’s Dry Basement sued Raytown-based competitor Pro Foundation Technology claiming it iinfringed on Dry Basement’s trademark color yellow by fielding a pair of used Penske rental trucks already painted yellow. And because for seven years Dry Basement has had a "fleet" of distinctive, yellow trucks.
Kinda like those bright red trucks of Roger the Plumber…
"The reason my trucks are red is I went to a seminar and it was explained how a color can describe your company," Roger says. "White means maybe the cleanest service, dark blue or black is presidential or elegance. The reason I picked red was we wanted people to know we had fast service – like fire trucks come fast. And yellow is a very distinctive color – it stands out – look at the Chiefs logo; it’s yellow and red."
Reminds of a few years back when ousted KU athletics director Lew Perkins used a seven-figure lawsuit to wipe out tiny, Lawrence T-shirt vendor Joe-College. Perkins claimed KU owned the word "Kansas" and the color blue in the state of Kansas, even arguing in court that the slogan "Muck Fizzou" was an infringement of KU athletics.
Roger’s take on the current basement repair court battle?
"Those two companies have been very competitive," he says. "And the foundation repair business is very competitive. Those businesses in that industry really protect their brand."
That said, Roger doesn’t exactly see what the fuss is about…
"When I think about a yellow truck I don’t think about any foundation company," he says. "I think about the delivery service DHL. I have a competitor that has yellow trucks, The Plumbing Pro. And about 20 years ago a lot of fire trucks started converting from fire engine red to fire engine yellow – they’re supposed to be easier to see than red."
In other words, why get one’s basement drying knickers in a bunch over a couple used Penske yellow trucks?
Which is why Roger could care less about companies like Ryan Lawn & Tree motoring about town in bright red trucks.
"I mean, there are so many people running around now and using my middle name," Roger quips. "I was the first person in Kansas City to use the middle name ‘the’ – as in Roger the Plumber. Now there’s John the Plumber, Jane the Plumber, Bill the Plumber, Sean the Plumber, Pat the Plumber."
None of which Roger has sued…
"No, I wouldn’t even think of it. I mean, there’s only one Roger the Plumber and if you’re doing a good job – seriously – people are not going to get confused over the same middle name. I mean, there’s Smokey the Bear and Tony the Tiger – my god – a lot of people have the middle name ‘the.’ "