Waterwise Wairarapa | Embracing a new challenge proves a wise move

Purchasing the business you work for was a big step up for plumber and gasfitter, Rob Summers, but when Waterwise Wairarapa came on the market in 2016, Rob and his wife Sarah decided it was too good an opportunity to miss.

A year on, they’ve experienced rapid growth having won some big contracts. Sarah puts that down to having the motivation to go after the clients they wanted and having valuable new staff to carry out the work. “It’s been a big learning curve but we’ve no regrets,” she says.

Waterwise Wairarapa was established around 20 years ago in Masterton, and Rob had worked there for five years, including one as manager.

The commercial and domestic plumbing, gas fitting and drain laying company also specialises in wastewater design, and the installation of backflow systems to prevent chemicals leaking into the water supply. “Not many plumbing businesses offer this, but we do,” explains Sarah, who is the company’s office and administration manager.

“When we bought Waterwise, the main focus was residential plumbing. Now we are focused on building the commercial and industrial side of it. We already had Taratahi Training Farm as a client and have managed to add Beehive Premier Bacon in Carterton too. These contracts, even though we are on call 24/7, give us consistency and added exposure; people from both places now recognise our plumbing business, so we gain work there too.”

Rob did a mechanical apprenticeship in New Zealand before moving to the UK where he completed a plumbing apprenticeship, and specialised in large-scale pipefitting. There he met Sarah, who had always worked in public relations and marketing. The couple has two young children, Ollie 6 and Lilah 3.

Rob and Sarah bring complementary skills to their business and work well as a team. They’re taking this new experience in their stride and learning lots as they go. Sarah is very pleased with progress and is proud of their achievements so far. “Neither of us has ever owned a business or employed staff before – we started in November 2016, with one person and now we have four.”

When Sarah was looking for a suitable accountant, a colleague recommended Mike Flower, Moore Stephens Markhams director. She popped in to meet him and found they got on well. “Since we’ve never needed an accountant before, it was important to find someone who could talk to me on my level.”

She’s also pleased she’s able to ask Eddie Cranston, their account manager, about anything no matter how big or small, “Eddie is always answering my silly questions and makes me feel that, actually, no question is a silly one.”

And while Sarah needed some guidance as to what was required, she also wanted a level of independence. “The team at Moore Stephens Markhams has held my hand where it was needed but equally, let me work things through on my own.”

When Rob and Sarah introduced the concept of Fergus job management software to Mike – a programme they both feel confident using – they were pleased he liked it too. Sarah says it’s a useful tool and links into Xero accounting software. “Fergus analyses each job and tells us how profitable it is. It’s brilliant because it helps us to be accurate and allows us to keep tabs on what’s happening at many different levels.

“We are looking forward to the future of Waterwise Wairarapa and seeing how far we can take it into the commercial sector. With the professional support we receive from Moore Stephens Markhams, I know we’ll have the right assistance to allow us to grow business even further.”