The Dart: Father, daughter turn childhood lessons into family business

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 8, 2016

NATCHEZ — These days, Alisha Champion is reliving her childhood.

Not the games and school, but the part that dealt with PVC and porcelain, solvent cement and gravity flows.

“I was telling my dad just the other day that one of the first smells I remember was the smell of copper,” Champion said.

When The Dart found Champion on Park Place, she was working with her father, Mike Bradshaw, doing something she has been doing in one fashion or the other for years — plumbing.

The difference is now that she is officially apprenticing under him.

“I went out with him from the time I was able to work,” Champion said. “I always found it interesting, and I was up for the challenge.”

Bradshaw has been plumbing for a long time, and in business for himself since 1988. He got his first learning experience with the trade when he got a job helping the construction crew build the Maryland Heights apartments.

“You can read a book about plumbing, but the only real way you learn it is by seeing it and doing it,” he said.

And that is inadvertently what he started doing with his daughter when she was young.

“When she was tall enough to crawl under houses and hand me tools, she was with me,” Bradshaw said.

They saw those early years as more father-daughter time together than teaching, but even as Champion worked other jobs she retained that knowledge.

“One day, I was called by my neighbor to help with plumbing, and he said, ‘I know you have some experience with that,’” she said. “My dad called me and asked what I was up to, and when I told him, he said, ‘You’re doing what? I didn’t know you are interested in that.’”

So the duo started officially working together, perfecting the years of prior unintentional lessons by spending five days a week together on the job.

“I’m willing to teach anybody,” Bradshaw said. “And I’ve done it before, and they usually go on and go into business for themselves, but I’m certainly glad to teach her.”