Plumbing – a family tradition

Plumbing – a family tradition

By Cherry Ellis

The plumbing trade runs in 33-year-old Michael Goodrich’s genes. He is the owner of 3G Plumbing in Benoni. We chat to him to find out why he chose to make a living from the trade that has been passed down for three generations in his family.

  1. What is your job title and what does your job entail?

I am the owner of 3G Plumbing. My daily activities mainly involve the day-to-day running of the company and staff, doing quotes, and meeting with wet services engineers and construction companies at the various sites on which we work. I also carry out leak detections and drain inspections, call on clients, write reports, and plan the daily work schedules.

  1. Why did you decide to get into plumbing in particular?

My great-grandfather and grandfather were both plumbers and I knew I wanted to do a trade, so plumbing was my natural choice.

  1. How did you enter the plumbing industry?

After completing my matric, I did a 45-day plumbing course and then went to work for Hutton Plumbing where I served my apprenticeship. After I passed my trade test in 2008, I decided to start my own business — 3G Plumbing.

  1. How long have you been in the plumbing industry for?

Approximately 12 years.

  1. Has plumbing always been something you’ve wanted to do?

I never thought about it much. I always enjoyed working with my hands and just kind of gravitated towards plumbing because it runs in the family — so I guess it must be in my genes.

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

In the beginning it was difficult to build up a clientele base. I spent many days putting flyers in post boxes. We were fortunate enough to be introduced to a couple of building contractors through the plumbing suppliers that we were dealing with. Through the contractors that we met, we started working under them doing refurbishing of hotels and so on. From there we got to meet and work with various wet services engineers and quantity surveyors, who have since used our services on their bigger projects.

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

Working on the refurbishment of the Sandton Sun Hotel was our first massive job and very stressful. Many hours were spent working between midnight and 4:00 and then back to the office to start again at 7:00.

  1. What are some of the misconceptions about the industry that people who are not in the industry do not know about?

People don’t realise that we have overheads that need to be taken into consideration when doing a job and it’s not just the labour content and materials. 

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

I think plumbers using inferior products and the lack of skills need to stop. Trying to rip clients off and get rich quick. I have found that people have lost all confidence in our tradesmen and see us as fly-by-nights, rather than capable, professional tradespersons. You always hear from clients about nightmare plumbing projects gone wrong, but when you ask who did the work, it’s never a reputable company, because they feel we are too expensive.

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

I enjoy boating, wakeboarding, and spending time with my family and friends. I also enjoy steelwork, welding, and the likes.

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

Time management — there is never enough time in the day and everybody wants you there first thing in the morning. Recruiting good reliable staff who want to learn the trade and not just pick up a pay cheque at the end of the month. I am fortunate enough to have a good bunch of guys that work well together and can be relied upon to run a site independently.

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

Never take shortcuts and use quality materials only. Look after your staff — they are the base of your business. Unqualified plumbers have given the industry a bad name and we need to correct that. If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well.

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