Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) is serving his second term as the representative of Oklahoma’s second congressional district, which covers the entire eastern part of the Sooner State. At age 37, he is one of the youngest members in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In the following Q&A, Rep. Mullin talks about becoming the owner of Mullin Plumbing Inc., Broken Arrow, Okla., why he got into politics and the value of becoming a member of Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) Oklahoma Chapter.

What types of work does Mullin Plumbing do, how many people does the firm employ, and what are the guiding principles by which you run your business?
Mullin Plumbing Inc. began as a small plumbing company. It has grown to include HVAC, electrical, environmental and construction services. We employ more than 150 people, and our guiding principles are honesty and hard work. We never want to leave a customer with homework, so we are committed to paying attention to even the smallest details. We pride ourselves on doing the work no one else will do.

What compelled you to lead the family business?
My dad is the hardest working man I know, and it was really hard for me to see him struggling with his health while I was away at college. I made the decision to come home from school and help my dad with the business. A couple of years later, my wife, Christie, and I took over the business. We worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week for three years to build the business back up. It was a very challenging period of our lives.

Why did you decide to join the ABC Oklahoma Chapter, and what have been the benefits of becoming a member?
My involvement with the ABC Oklahoma Chapter originally started through some of my connections and associations with other businesses. When our employees were approached by union organizers, the local ABC chapter was really helpful. Today, we rely heavily on ABC for continuing education—everything from OSHA training to first-aid and CPR classes.

What motivated your decision to run for Congress?  
I got fed up. I realized my biggest business challenge was no longer staying ahead of my competitor down the street, but rather staying compliant with state and federal regulations and requirements.

What is the biggest difference between serving in Congress and running a business? Are there any similarities?
The biggest difference is that in business, when you want to make a change, you can develop and implement those changes yourself. In Congress, it is not that easy. For me, serving in Congress is similar to running my business because I bring a business approach to everything I do. I know how important it is to develop relationships with other members of Congress in order to achieve shared goals.

I also approach many of the things I do like I would when I bid a job. I know that I have to be willing to negotiate. I define what I want and what I am looking for, but I also define what I will accept at the end of the day.

In your two-and-a-half years in Congress, what has been your biggest priority, and what is your proudest accomplishment thus far?
My biggest priority has been and will continue to be preventing and peeling back unnecessary and burdensome federal regulations that hurt businesses. My goal is to help create an atmosphere where businesses can thrive instead of simply surviving. The accomplishment I have been most proud of is staying true to my values.

If someone in the construction industry wants to get politically engaged (but not run for Congress), what would you encourage him or her to do? How can folks ensure their voices are heard?
I encourage anyone who wants to get politically engaged to start taking a look at the candidates or officials they agree with and start supporting them however they can. Get involved with your local ABC chapter and local political system. Stay involved, and don’t let someone else make decisions for you.

Drew Schneider is legislative director of Associated Builders and Contractors. For more information, email