Amanda Ogilvie from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry talks working with your spouse, business growth and roof plumbing with Titan Plumbing co-founder Matt Wilson.

Evolution of ambition

‘I always wanted to work for myself. I started out with a company in South Melbourne for six years, working throughout my apprenticeship. Then I went out as a sole trader as a sub-contractor for 12 months. During that time I started to pick up
my own clients.’

‘The Titan name has only been around for about eight years and as a structured company we’ve been around for
about five.’

‘Titan Plumbing specialise in roofing. We do new roofs, repairs, changing tiles to colour-bond, maintenance and guttering. On the general plumbing side of the business, we mostly do maintenance.’

‘I think the reason our business has grown strong is attention to customer service.’

‘I really love talking to my clients and connecting with people. Establishing these bonds and a good reputation early on means I get a lot of repeat business.’



Good help is critical: at home, in the office and on the tools

‘There is a challenge to manage the balance between growth and stability. The biggest difficulty lies in staffing; finding the right people.’

‘We’ve had some great experiences with mature age apprentices. On the whole, they cost more to employ, so a lot of companies are reluctant to engage them. At Titan, we really appreciate their worth and longevity. We’ve recently recruited two and found they’re bringing a wealth of experience and great attitude to the business, so it’s working out really well.’

‘We are fortunate that now we’ve grown the business with the right people, we can take some time away for a holiday and the business can run without us. We’re always checking our emails while we’re away, but that’s just the nature of the business. There are emergency
situations that need dealing with, but that’s inescapable.’

To specialise or not to specialise

 

‘I think people are now specialising because it’s easier to train up guys in a certain aspect of the industry and run your business in that area. If you do one thing and are really good at it, it’s easier to make money than if you are too diverse.’

‘We’ve chosen not to do that, or not at this stage. We are always monitoring our business and making decisions about where the more profitable markets are and what direction we are going in. For instance, we have decided to steer clear of the new build work because the
margins are a bit tighter.’

‘Our business is constantly changing and I think will continue to do so in the next five years. You have to remain agile. If you get stuck in your ways, the business can’t grow and evolve and so you’re forced to always look at your processes and procedures and where your business is going. If you stop working on your business, it won’t evolve.’

‘If you want to run your own business, the learning doesn’t stop when you finish trade school. It’s great that you now do an estimating course and some other business training when you go for your license. And there’s even more to learn when you have employees; all my
plumbers now are full-time employees.’

‘That does come with a bit of pressure to make sure there’s enough profitable work and we do have that wage bill to cover every week. The challenge though is not in finding enough work; it’s making sure that work is profitable.’


Lessons learned

‘If you’re thinking about starting your own plumbing company, my best advice is to work on the business aspects. It’s natural to focus on the plumbing, but don’t do that at the cost of neglecting the business side.’

‘Don’t grow before you’re ready because growth can actually be a company killer. Get processes and procedures in place before you grow too big, so you don’t have to go back and try to fix things afterwards.’

‘It’s a bit different to run your company with your spouse or partner. The best part of it is that I can always rely on her. We always have each other’s backs and we always back each other. The downside is that we don’t ever switch off; it can be bedtime and Charlotte is still
on the computer and we’re still talking about the business – but it’s great to operate as a team.’

‘I still love what I do. I wouldn’t change my life for anything. As much as it’s hard work, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.’

 

 

What being a Master Plumbers Member means to me:

‘Titan have been Master Plumbers Members for nearly three years. We are proud to display the Master Plumbers brand as it shows quality
of service, integrity and delivery of outcomes.’

‘We love and appreciate the opportunities being a Master Plumbers Member brings, including training opportunities. We also appreciate being kept updated with the changes in our industry via the Member e-news letters, events and website.’
Matt Wilson, Titan Plumbing

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