Moving with the times

Moving with the times

By Cherry Ellis
Sipho Zibula, owner and manager of Phuzanawe Plumbers, dreamt of being a plumber from an early age. As soon as he recognised an opportunity to establish his own business, he grabbed it with both hands.

His company was registered in 2009, operating from Pinetown, and services government departments, municipalities, and private companies in the onstruction industries. Today he serves on the KwaZulu-Natal IOPSA committee and runs a successful business.

Plumbing Africa caught up with Zibula and he shares some of his personal experiences.

Briefly tell us about yourself.

My name is Sipho Zibula. I am 38 years old and I am the owner and manager of Phuzanawe Plumbers.

What does your job entail?

I am the owner and manager. As owner manager I am responsible for the day-to-day running of the company, which includes site visits, site inspections for tendering purposes, and handling staff matters. I also attend to the financial aspects like budgeting of the company.

Why did you decide to get into plumbing in particular?

I enjoy working with my hands and plumbing was the next step for me as a career.

How did you get into the plumbing industry?

I was working for a construction/building company doing plumbing installations. I then decided to give it a go myself and to start my own business.

How long have you been in the plumbing industry?

I have been involved in the plumbing trade for the last 10 years.

Has plumbing always been something you have wanted to do?

Yes.

What challenges did you face getting into the industry and how did you overcome them?

There are a lot of small plumbing businesses out there that quote very low prices but deliver bad quality service. Due to this, it is very difficult for a start-up plumbing business to make good money. I then decided to become a qualified plumber and register my business with reputable institutions like IOPSA and PIRB; this helps you to deliver high-quality plumbing service at affordable rates.

What memorable encounter did you come across in the industry and why does it stand out?

Meeting Josh Engelbrecht, who is a qualified plumber working as a water technician for Reonet. He is responsible for all the water savings at Westville Prison on a permanent basis and ensures constant work for my company.

What do you think needs to be changed in the industry and how can that be done?

I would like to see a change at local government level that the standards in plumbing are enforced by plumbing inspectors and that only qualified plumbers are allowed to do plumbing installations. They should be required to lodge a CoC of their work completed at their local council.

When you are not busy with work, what do you do in your spare time?

I like to read plumbing magazines or to attend IOPSA meetings to stay informed about what is happening in my industry.

What would you say is the most difficult thing about being in the plumbing industry?

The plumbing industry is always changing. New products are coming on the market almost every day and it is difficult to keep up with all the new technical information and installation requirements that the new products require. Some of the new products are not SABS approved and due to bad quality or incorrect installations, there are a lot of comebacks that is not good for business.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a plumber?

Firstly, work as an assistant plumber and gain some experience. After two years, if you think that plumbing is a career option, start your plumbing career by getting a formal qualification at a reputable institute like Northlink College. If you want to start your own plumbing business, you can do some courses in sales while you are still employed. You can also read books on business management to broaden your view of what it all entails to run your own successful plumbing business.

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