All the right numbers.

Charlotte Roseby talks to Chadoak Plumbers, who have invested in 9001, 14001 and 4801 accreditation to achieve excellence in quality management, environmental performance and occupational health and safety.

Master Plumbers Chadoak are interested in quality. Serious quality. And they have the international certification to prove it.

They’ve had the impressive ISO 9001 for a while now, which sets out the criteria for a quality management system. Based on a number of quality management principles, Chadoak use their ISO certification as a basis for performance improvement and organisational excellence. They’ve recently updated their certification to AS/NZS 4801, which implements an occupational health and safety management system and ISO 14001, which specifies a process for the control and the continuous improvement of environmental performance.

And it shows. Chadoak have become one of the largest and most reputable plumbing and building maintenance businesses in Melbourne, known for employing experienced and knowledgeable plumbers, and for their commitment to health and safety.

“Most guys who come to us have heard good things about us and want to work for us,” says Chadoak’s Daniel Griffin. “We look after everyone.”

“We’ve still got quality, which our guys are very happy with. We’re driving up, not driving down, the quality of plumbing. We do really good quality plumbing – plumbing that we don’t have to go back and fix. Of course we can do cheap, but at the end of the day, you get more clients and more repeat business from quality.”

What is a standard?

A standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are t for their purpose.

What are the benefits of achieving iso international standards?

ISO International Standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. For business, they are strategic tools that:

  • reduce costs by minimising waste and errors
  • increase productivity
  • improve customer experience, resulting in repeat business, increased sales and additional income
  • enhance your reputation.

Getting accredited certification

During the implementation phase organisations should seek the services of an Accredited Certification Body that will conduct annual audits and arrange certification on behalf of your organisation. (Unfortunately, not all Accredited Certification Bodies are equal – do your research first.)

Chadoak have become known for employing experienced and knowledgeable plumbers, and for their commitment to health and safety

Chadoak begins: seven children at home and £33 in the bank

Chadoak have been around since 1963 when Richard ‘Dick’ Griffin left his brother’s plumbing company to start his own. His first big job – a sewer – came at the perfect time: his seventh child had been born five days before and he only had £33 in the bank. Four years later, Dick had a successful business operating out of the backyard of the family home.

The company was named Chadoak Plumbing and Drainage because Dick mainly serviced the suburbs of Chadstone and Oakleigh.

In 1974 the family business expanded as Dick took his son Paul on as his first apprentice. He then employed two more of his sons, Peter and Jim, who soon joined with another brother, Kevin, to take over Chadoak from their dad. They worked long hours, sometimes without wages, from a small back room until 1994, when they finally moved to their first factory.

Peter and Jim Gri n are still directors of the business, but the staff wouldn’t even be able to squeeze into the original back room for an orange juice now. Chadoak Plumbing and Drainage now employs over 120 people working out of a factory in Clayton, making it one of the biggest plumbing companies in Melbourne.

The third generation Griffin

Peter and Jim’s nephew Daniel never intended to be a plumber. He’s now an estimator at Chadoak – despite everyone saying, “don’t work with family,” laughs Daniel. “Here I am, 11 years later.”

He remembers visiting his uncles’ and grandfather’s business from a very young age. It was just always there.

“Then an opportunity came up for an apprenticeship. I was like any kid who is 17, leaving school, and doesn’t know what they want to do... There was a stepping stone offered. And I took it.” His dad and uncles were thrilled that Daniel was going to join the family business.

He’s not regretting his decision. He just loves it. All of it. “Unlike some others where unskilled labour are coming in and undercutting, plumbing is holding strong. When you’re a young kid, looking up, it looks like a very good prospect. The hard part is getting your chance. So most of us, when we get that opportunity, we take it.”

“My job now is estimating, so I’m trying hard to win work for the other guys. It’s a big responsibility. As much as anything else I want to keep the guys – guys I used to work with – in work.”

Inbuilt safety

Safety is a fundamental to Chadoak. “As a family run business, we always look after all our employees. They’re just like our own family members,” says Daniel Griffin. “We want to take the right steps to make sure that everyone who works with us is thinking about safety and taking the right steps – not just for ourselves, but for everyone else around us.”

As well as preventing near-misses, work-related injuries and lost work time, they have found their investment in health and safety, environmental performance and ISO quality certification is paying o in other ways; they’re making a big impression, and getting the big commercial, retail and government projects: the BHP Billiton building, the Webb Dock redevelopment, Caulfield Hospital, L’oreal Warehouse. “We wanted to work with those ‘tier 1’ companies and be on the same page with them. This is the way to do it.”

ISO 9001

ISO 9001, one of the most popular, is a standard that sets out the requirements for a quality management system. It helps businesses and organisations be more efficient and improve customer satisfaction. The standard can be used by any organisation, regardless of size or type.

AS/NZS 4801

This standard specifies requirements for an occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS), to enable an organisation to formulate a policy and objectives taking into account legislative requirements and information about hazards or risks. There are other benefits, but your OHSMS will primarily lead to a reduction of workplace illness and injury, minimising the costs associated with workplace accidents.

ISO 14001

This standard specifies a process for the control – and the continuous improvement – of environmental performance. It’s a management tool that enables an organisation to control the environmental impact, to improve environmental performance, and to set and achieve environmental objectives and targets. With an ISO 14001 you may bene t from lowered business costs by reducing resource consumption and waste, as well as gaining a positive image and a marketing advantage with customers.

In addition to their comprehensive OHS program and certification, they’ve recently started to encourage their people to “take 5” every morning. Why? Because, says Daniel, it’s easy to let health and safety go settle at the back of your mind, rather than the front. “We’ve all done it. You forget something exactly because you’ve been told it a million time... Or you’ve been working on the same job, doing the same thing for days and you forget that electrical conduit is in the ground.”

Now Chadoak is asking its plumbers to pause for 5 minutes each morning, before starting work, to think through what their day has in store for them and look at the conditions of the day, just to jog their memories and focus their attention. “This gets you to sit back before you start work and think it through. It’s working really well.” They’re now instituting a take 5 on their smaller sites as well as the bigger ones, to make sure everyone’s thinking about safety, everyday.

Webb Dock Expansion

A recent highlight for Chadoak was working on the Webb Dock Expansion Project, which aims to create one of the most technologically advanced, environmentally sustainable, and safest container terminals in the world.

When fully developed, the 35.4 hectare terminal will have a total of six post- Panamax ship-to-shore cranes, and will be able to handle up to 1.4 million standard containers annually. The 10-acre empty container park will hold 280,000 standard containers. (For your next trivia night: a “post-Panamax” crane can load and unload containers from a container ship too large to pass through the Panama Canal. That’s normally about 18 containers wide. A “Panamax” crane can load and unload containers from a ship that is capable of passing through the Panama Canal: about 12 containers.)

Working for BMD, Chadoak got busy installing water mains, fire mains, sewer and plumbing all the smaller buildings. What made it special? A really good crew, a great team of engineers and working with the leaders in safety.

“Our guys have been out there, really putting in. It’s a great job and they are all enjoying themselves, which shows.” What was not so special was the weather, says Daniel. “When it’s cold, it’s really cold. And it’s always windy. Our boys are getting used to wearing double and triple jumpers.”

The Webb Dock development is incorporating water harvesting and reuse across available areas as well as treating the stormwater runoff by removing pollutants.

The Chadoak team installed a 100,000 litre AKS spel tank 2.5 metres under sea level. They needed to dig 12 metres by 6 metres, 6 metres deep, “So that was a big hole...with a lot of shoring up,” said Daniel, “A lot of safety plans and preplanning went into that.” They water-tested it and back filled with stabilised sand to seal it and prevent it floating or sinking in the Coode island silt. The process included installing mesh, a raft and tiedown straps.

All went to plan, and the Spel tank will be used in the process to treat stormwater, which will then be re-used for truck washing.

CHADOAK: project file
Webb Dock Expansion
BHP Billiton Centre
L’oreal Warehouse
Marriott Water Shopping Centre
Nth Melbourne Recreational reserve
Caulfield Hospital
Frankston Hospital
Western General Hospital
Greens Road Rail Link
Kilbreda College
Brandon Park PS