Abbotts Plumbing and Drainage

A thriving business grown with proactive family action

  • Abbots plumbing

    Abbotts offers an emergency service seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

The past 10 years have seen enormous growth for Auckland drainage business, Abbotts.  Staff numbers have gone from 15 to 50 and although Abbotts remains a family business, the family that has grown it into a multi-million dollar enterprise is the Rooneys.

Abbotts had been operating in Auckland since the early 1990s and in 2005, Paul Rooney purchased it as a going concern.

“I had owned several childcare centres and sold them with a view to retiring,” explains Paul.  “I would have been content to invest in property but my son Anthony was looking to get into a business of his own, one that suited his skill-set and had potential to develop.”

Anthony was at that time a builder with a thriving business, but acknowledged there was only limited scope for any further potential.   Soon the father and son duo were the owners of Abbotts, a drainage unblocking company servicing the wider Auckland region.

“It’s certainly not glamorous.  But the essential elements of the business were robust and it was a business that was not overly influenced by the vagaries of the economy.  If someone has a problem with a blocked drain, they need it fixed.  And we are the people to fix it.”

Anthony runs the day to day operations at Abbotts.  Paul has a silent role as investor and keeps a watchful eye on the business.  As a retired chartered accountant, Paul is quick to give credit to his son for taking Abbotts “way beyond” basic drain unblocking to a full service drainage and plumbing business.

Two years ago Anthony introduced the plumbing division into Abbotts, complementing the drainage services and enabling the company to offer a one-stop drainage and plumbing service to its customers.  Although unblocking drains remains Abbotts’ core business, more of the company’s commercial clients are using Abbotts for regular plumbing maintenance of their rental property portfolio.

Being proactive in the market to keep the business growing was important to Anthony, particularly through the recession.

“The GFC made us look at what we else we could do to create more work.  So we undertook a lot of contract work with housing companies, for whom maintenance is the biggest issue.  We tried to stay away from new developments and focused more on existing properties.  Along with our domestic and commercial unblocking work, we also offered evaluation, repair and maintenance of sewer lines and septic tanks though to vacuum loading pump stations and grease traps.”

Anthony says reliability underpins their success.  “The most important thing we’ve done is focus on providing a service people can count on.  Anyone who uses our services is guaranteed a four hour response time. We will deliver,” he says.
Moore Stephens Markhams Auckland director Sam Bassett has had an association with the Rooney family for more than 25 years.

“When I bought the childcare centres, Moore Stephens Markhams was recommended to us.  Sam’s mentor Michael Ellis, a former director of the accountancy firm worked with us on growing our business and now Sam is doing the same with Anthony,” says Paul.

“We have grown with Sam and his experience is invaluable to us,” adds Anthony.  “He is great to bounce ideas off and you can have a really honest conversation with him.”

Sam handles the financials and taxation for Abbotts, but also fulfils a business advisory function.  “He has a very good overview of the market and what’s happening in the economy,” explains Anthony.  “I have the feel for the business on the ground and he has the feeling for the financial side, the bigger picture.  It’s a complementary relationship and one that has helped our business grow.”

Published Winter 2014.

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