LEARNING CURVE | PE plumber all about keeping the customer satisfied

Craig Wood, of CAW Plumbing, works on a roof installation
JOB DONE: Craig Wood, of CAW Plumbing, works on a roof installation
Image: Supplied

Inspired by how his business has grown, Craig Wood of CAW Plumbing says every day he realises how passionate he is about the work he does.

With more than 10 years’ experience in the plumbing industry, Wood, 31, is always ready to meet his clients needs.

Please share some background on yourself and how the business was started? 

I started my plumbing apprenticeship in 2009 at Jan van Heerden Plumbers and I became a qualified plumber in 2011 through East Cape Training Centre.

I have worked in Mozambique, St Francis Bay and Port Elizabeth, which have all been great learning experiences for me.

In 2015, I decided to take the big jump and start my own business and I started CAW Plumbing.

I started out of my bakkie and putting flyers into people’s post boxes around PE, to try get some work and get my business out there.

Since then my business has grown, I now have a store with all my tools, two bakkies and two staff members.

What is your core service?

My core service is to deliver in every aspect of professional plumbing, maintenance, construction and renovations.

What makes your business unique?

We are a passionate, dedicated team and everyone carries a certain role in the company.

Our work is unique in that we never take any short cuts, our work is clearly thought out, neat and tidy. 

If someone wanted to copy your business model, how would they start?

Keep your overheads as low as possible and do the work yourself for as long as possible.

What are some of the biggest inhibitors your business faced before getting off the ground?

Available cash flow and lack of work, getting your name out there is difficult.

I didn’t take any form of loan out, I started with just the cash that I had from the couple of jobs I had before getting my business out there and picking up work.

The first couple of years were very tough and some months are still tough but the months that are great keep me motivated.

Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs or new business owners?

If you feel like it’s something that you want to, just take the leap.

It’s tough out there and don’t give up, keep your head up and stay focused.

Always make sure you deliver the best you can when you work for yourself and always ensure to communicate with all parties all the time. Communication is key.

What are some of your biggest challenges in day-to-day business operations and your particular industry?

My biggest challenge that I probably face is getting people to settle their accounts on time.

What is the best advice anyone gave you on success?

Stay humble and put your head down.

How do you measure or define success in your business?

How my staff and clients treat me, if they are happy then they treat me with respect and I am always happy to receive a call from clients that I have done work for or clients that have recommended me. 

What are some of the best practices that have made your business successful?

Investing the little bit of money I earn back into my business, when I didn’t really have it.

Another one is definitely maintaining a positive attitude and a strong mindset.

What kind of advertising do you do?

I never really did any type of advertising, I relied on word-of-mouth.

However, I recently had business cards printed and created a Instagram and Facebook Page (CAW Plumbing) which I post my work on. I would like to brand my vehicles in the near future. 

What is your company’s vision?

My vision is to continuously grow my business and at the same time ensure that my work quality is never neglected.

What is your target market?

My target market is quite board, but mainly the people who are willing to pay a competitive price for good plumbing work.

What have some of your highlights been in running your business?

The highs and lows, seeing my business grow. I have learnt so much about people and myself.

Every day I realise how passionate I am about the work that I do and seeing how far I have come keeps me driven to continue to grow.

How important is social media and an online presence for your business?

I think that once your business gets to a certain stage it’s important to create an online presence.

I never had any sort of online presence until recently, I have started posting the work I have done and received quite a bit of work from being “online”. 

How many people do you employ?

I currently employ two staff members.

Do you have any plans for expanding the business, and how would you go about this?

I definitely do plan on expanding. I need to look at purchasing another vehicle and getting another team together.

How did you acquire funding for the business?

I didn’t have any sort of funding when starting my business. Everything that my business is today is from my own cash flow. 

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your business journey so far?

If you say you are going to do something, do it and do it correctly.

What have been the greatest challenges and advantages of running your business in a city like PE?

Competing with other plumbing companies in Port Elizabeth is always a challenge.

An advantage of having a business in Port Elizabeth is that good work travels a long way. 

What do you say are the three key traits of a successful entrepreneur?

Passion, motivation and discipline.

What do you say are the key traits of a successful employer?

Trust, leadership and guidance. I have to ensure that my employees are able to rely on me and I have to be there when they need me. 

What do you wish people knew about your industry?

In the plumbing industry there are multiple variables which means that there is a lot that could go wrong all the time on a small job. It is not as easy as putting two pipes together.

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