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Building a Hobby and a Career: Associate Profile on Service Technician Darrin Bretthauer


P1 Service Technician Darrin Bretthauer grew up in Eudora, KS. As a kid, he really enjoyed playing sports, but then a shop class in junior high pointed him toward what would become a life-long new hobby: carpentry.

“Even at that age, I knew building things was something I really liked and wanted to learn more about it,” Darrin said.

Since no one in his family did any woodworking, it wasn’t until he took a wood shop class in high school that he was able to get some real hands-on experience.

“That high school shop class was when I really got the bug,” Darrin recalled. “My first project in wood shop was just a white board frame, but it gave me the skills to start working on projects of my own.”

He started out doing small pieces, like picture frames, and then moved on to larger projects.

Of course woodworking requires a lot of tools and equipment, so soon after high school, Darrin started making some significant tool purchases, and set up an area of the basement where he could have a dedicated woodworking shop.

“It’s nice to have a shop all set up and ready for when I want to do a project,” Darrin said.

He has built a few furniture pieces here and there, like a bed and a set of side tables that he and his wife still currently use, but most of the things he builds focus on storage and organization.

He put in a corner cabinet at his parent’s house, built a bathroom vanity, made a closet organization system, a hutch over his tool box…and the list goes on.

He said he finds satisfaction in the organizational side of carpentry.

Wood Working

“It’s nice to be able to build something custom that fits the space and meets your needs,” Darrin said.

“It not only takes care of the problem, but I get to do something I enjoy and in the end, I have something that’s much better quality than anything I can buy ready-made.”

And doing a quality job is something that is important to Darrin, a trait that carries over from his wood working to his job as a service technician.

When Darrin graduated from high school, he knew he liked working with his hands but didn’t really know what career path he wanted to follow, so he started taking some classes at Johnson County Community College (JCCC), and took a job as a laborer for a local construction company.

A year later, he was hired to work for a masonry company, where he learned the trade of a stone mason.

“I really enjoyed being a stone mason,” Darrin said.

“It gave me the chance to learn a trade, but I could tell that the physical aspect of the job would take a toll on my body, so I started looking into other career opportunities.”

Then in 2008, the economy went into a recession and Darrin found himself with a lot of time off.

“At that point, I decided to switch to something that everyone needed instead of a luxury item, and knew HVAC would be just the thing.” Darrin said.

He started taking night classes for heating and air at JCCC and applied to Local 441.

After getting in the union, he was hired by P1 and spent his first few years working on construction jobs before switching over to be a service technician with the Lawrence/Topeka Service Division.

Darrin has now been with P1 service more than 10 years. Darrin Pump

P1 Service Manager Kyndel Paulsen says that Darrin has been a great asset for Lawrence/Topeka Service.

“I first met Darrin working on a P1 construction site as an apprentice and I could see his potential to be a service tech within minutes of meeting him,” Kyndel said.

“He brought with him unique skill set from his stone mason days and ability to build custom wood solutions for coworkers.”

"Darrin is always willing to do whatever it takes, from running emergency service calls to being the foreman on high-dollar piping projects," Kyndel added.

"I can always count on Darrin to do a quality job."

For Darrin, quality is a given.

“I’ve always felt that if you are going to take the time to do something, you should make sure you are doing it to the best of your ability, or there’s no point,” Darrin said.

With that attitude, it’s no wonder Darrin has become such a skilled and valued craftsman!



Away from work, Darrin likes to spend time with his wife Aubrey and two daughters: Ryan, 15 and Avery, 12. They stay pretty busy, especially in the spring and summer when the girls are playing softball. Darrin likes to help out at their practices and has also done some coaching. When they do get a free weekend, they like to load up the RV and go camping.

The family is also a home to two cats, Dwight and Angela.

Of course Darrin always has some project (or several) in the works, and recently his daughter Avery jumped in to help him build a tool rack for his service van. “She did a great job and I’d like to think she would develop a passion for woodworking as well,” Darrin said.

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