The way Kendal Nash puts it, he walked out of the kitchen and into a plumbing apprenticeship. Kathryn Kernohan looks a little further into the life of this tropical island plumber.
Scott Robinson of Gallant Plumbing took a risk and it paid off. Kathryn Kernohan speaks to the plumber-turned-trainer who returned to his trade refreshed
Many people long for a mid-career change. Gallant Plumbing Director Scott Robinson actually did it - and found it ultimately improved his trade as a plumber.
After more than 20 years working as a plumber, largely for himself, Scott took a year off in the mid-2000s to renovate the family home. During that time, his wife saw something that caught her eye while scanning job advertisements in the newspaper.
“She saw that there were vacancies for sessional plumbing teachers, working two days a week. It was something new and I thought ‘why not’ - and I ended up teaching plumbing at Victoria University TAFE for the next 10 years,” he says.
In 2011, Scott was recognised as Trainer of the Year in Skills Victoria’s Victorian Training Awards and also won Victoria University’s prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Award for educational leadership for adapting an e-learning course to allow students to progress through their Certificate III in Plumbing at their own pace.
“I loved teaching and it really made me understand plumbing more than I had before, and gave me a new passion for the industry. You don’t realise the importance of plumbing at the start of your career but later - when you’re licensed in plumbing, gas and roofing - you understand it is a really important role.”
After a decade of teaching and starting to miss being on the tools and the challenge of running a small business, Scott went back to plumbing and began working in the pre-purchase inspection field.
There he met his future business partner Ed Clark, who invited Scott to become a partner in a plumbing business he had recently bought.
Cashmore Plumbing, an established business that had provided plumbing services to Melbourne’s eastern suburbs for close to 40 years, was rebranded as Gallant Plumbing in 2016.
As Directors of the business, Scott and Ed now oversee a team of more than 30 staff and describe Gallant Plumbing as dynamic, modern and led by remarkable customer service.
“We are passionate about customer service - I see the service industry as like a café in the sense that people spend money with you and expect you’ll do the job well and hassle-free. Following up with people, open communication and honesty are all key.”
Scott says technological innovation is one of the main ways the industry has evolved over his time. Gallant Plumbing use cloud-based software to manage jobs, which Scott says equally benefits the business and customers.
“Being able to have all the information about a job right there, like history, photos and emails, means that our guys have access to it on the road and that customers can see what they are seeing.
“It’s changed the way we do things and made the whole industry more efficient.”
Scott and Ed are also passionate about developing leaders within their business.
More than 20 staff members at Gallant Plumbing, including the two Directors, are currently involved in a 12-month leadership development program run by external consultants.
“We love giving people the opportunity to improve and empowering them to grow in their roles,” he says.
“A program like this isn’t necessarily common in our industry but we know that if it helps people grow outside of work it also benefits their work, and ultimately the customer.”