Business Central December 2021

70 | NZ Plumbers Awards: Advanced Plumbing HB CONTRACTING Embracing change and training a must T Kelly Deeks The team at Advanced Plumbing has adapted and embraced the changes they have had to make to their operations. T he lack of labour in our post-Covid business environment has smart firms implementing new procedures to future proof their teams and ensure they remain a high-value employer. Some firms, like Advanced Plumbing with branches in Hawke’s Bay and Taupo, have always set a high standard for training. Advanced Plumbing marketing manager Geri Goldstone says the firm has always been big on training people from the ground up. “We take on apprentices who are starting from scratch and we teach them the Advanced Way,” she says. “We all follow the same policies and procedures on how things get done, and how our company likes to leave jobs done.” Group home builders provide Advanced Plumbing with a constant flow of work and the repetitive nature of these projects couldn’t be more suited to an apprentice’s need to hone their skills. Always known for employing a large per- centage of apprentices, Advanced Plumbing currently has 18 at various stages of their apprenticeships, out of a total staff of 48. Recent appointments include some adult ap- prentices, changing careers perhaps because of the ramifications of Covid. “That has been working really well for us. A lot of these guys have come with a different skill set and they are super motivated to be gaining that new qualification.” Advanced Plumbing also works in conjunc- tion with the Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union to offer players a career outside of rugby. “For us it’s about managing our workload and being able to get the right people. While it’s great to be training these people, teach- ing them the way we like things done, and bringing them up through the ranks, we also want to make sure we have enough qualified tradesmen. We’re now building a new website with a focus on careers and trying to attract highly skilled people. We will be targeting people living in Auckland, and asking them to consider making a move to the beautiful Hawke’s Bay or Taupo.” The consistency of project flow has required attention in the post-Covid environ- ment. As supply chain issues cause construc- tion project delays, gaps could appear in Advanced Plumbing’s schedule. “We take on reactive work and that always depends on our workload,” Geri says. “What we’re doing now is managing that flow of reactive work so we can turn it on and off. If we have a gap or a delay on a key project, we can get these guys out doing reactive and maintenance work. We’re going to have a lot more projects starting, and they’re going to go on for a bit longer than usual, so we know we have to be managing extended time frames.” The team at Advanced Plumbing has adapt- ed and embraced the changes they have had to make to their operations to ensure their compliance with lockdown restrictions. As an essential service working through lockdowns, and operating about 90% of its workload at level three, Advanced Plumbing sent out its workers in full PPE and set up a full wash down proce- dure for workers coming back from a job. “We brought in a washing machine and the guys could have a shower, so they could go home and minimise the risk to their families.” The new procedures were set out for clients, who had to sign off on them, so they would know what to expect when Advanced Plumbing turned up (on time) for their job. The Delta outbreak has changed require- ments again. Now Advanced Plumbing is getting behind the vaccination drive, with a couple of the team appearing in a video for the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s campaign targeting the trades, Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get a Mate to Vaccinate. “We are supporting vaccinations as they enable us to operate when this new traffic light system comes in. We have to push it as any employer can.” Just prior to the first lockdown, Advanced Plumbing had planned a rebrand, as for the 12 years it has been in business it has flown mostly under the radar. “We decided to still go for it. Managing director Mark Watkins thought there would be a lot of companies we could help to support by continuing on with our rebrand and provide work for people who could potentially be struggling through the lockdown. Now we’re getting people coming to us and wanting to work for us because they have seen our increased presence.”