Pieter van Rooyen: Rugby player turned plumber

By Dineo Phoshoko

Changing careers is no easy task, more so if one’s chosen career does not work out as planned. Pieter van Rooyen had to change careers and fortunately for him, his interest in plumbing helped him become successful in the industry. 

Pieter 001Growing up, Pieter van Rooyen wanted to become a professional rugby player. Unfortunately, due to injuries and circumstances beyond his control, becoming a professional rugby player was not possible. “I then put everything I could into becoming a qualified plumber,” he said. Van Rooyen started out as a driver for a plumbing company. “The local rugby club I played for organised me a job as a driver at a plumbing company, to enable me to stay in town and represent the club. My initial responsibility was just to drive the plumbing team around from one job to the next.”

Van Rooyen became interested in what the plumbers were doing. “I started paying attention to what they were doing and I was fortunate to have a boss who proceeded teaching me everything he knew.” Van Rooyen decided to take plumbing seriously because he believed that he could get a good trade behind his name. He was also motivated by the prospect of deriving satisfaction from “starting a project and getting to see the end result.”

As the technical manager at Plumbing Connection, Van Rooyen is responsible for all site-related matters, including overseeing plumbers and apprentices — and ensuring that a quality job is done. “I do planning and design of the plumbing systems required and place orders for all relevant materials,” he adds. He has been in the plumbing industry since 2003 and getting into the industry was not a problem for him; however, once he was in it, he encountered various challenges. “I think the worst was to earn the respect of friends who were going to university and getting degrees in engineering and so on. But I earned respect through hard work and providing a quality service.”

The 33-year-old describes himself as a “family orientated man” and spends most of his free time with family. “I enjoy fishing, playing golf, and spending time with friends.” He believes that there are many misconceptions about plumbing, particularly people’s understanding of what a plumber does and the amount of work that goes into a plumbing project.

He is very optimistic about the prospects of the plumbing industry and highlights the importance of the webinars hosted by the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA). “I think that everyone should take the webinars more seriously, because it definitely helped me to become a better plumber and manager. We need to encourage the plumbers out there to do these webinars.” Van Rooyen also expressed gratitude towards everyone working tirelessly to improve the plumbing industry overall.

I earned respect through hard work and providing a quality service.

Van Rooyen admires industry experts such as IOPSA’s operations manager, Steve Brown. He even shared a memorable encounter with Brown: “He was the inspector on my very first COC inspection. He was not overly impressed at the time. After that encounter, it became one of my personal goals to make a good impression on him, and it seems I finally have,” says Van Rooyen.

Looking ahead, Van Rooyen would like to improve on his skills as a plumber and become a mentor for other plumbers. His advice for others interested in the plumbing industry is that they must be ready and willing to learn. “It doesn’t matter how long you have been in the trade, you will learn something new every day.”

* Image: Pieter van Rooyen, technical manager at Plumbing Connection.
Credit:  Jean Mari van Rooyen

 Click below to read the November 2017 issue of Plumbing Africa

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