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Family business wins top national plumbing award

5 July 2019
conference awards

Long-standing family business MacMillan Plumbing & Gas Ltd is this year’s Master Plumber of the Year. Discover what sets this Auckland and Christchurch-based company apart.


Rohan & Emma Macmillan (left) and Angus & Mel MacMillan at the 2019 New Zealand Plumbing Awards 

Plumbing has been part of the MacMillan family history since the 1930s. It all began with Alec Charles Stewart MacMillan, who became one of only 21 people to achieve National Life Membership of Master Plumbers. He handed the reins to son Bruce and his wife Jeni in the late 1960s, and now their sons Rohan and Angus run the business—Rohan in the Auckland office and Angus in the Christchurch office.

Bruce was President of the Auckland Master Plumbers from 1977-79 and son Rohan is following in his footsteps, currently serving as Vice President.

Alexander Charles Stewart MacMIllan's 1930 registration certificate.

Commercial focus

Eight out of the 10 tallest buildings in Auckland city centre are serviced by MacMillan Plumbing & Gas Ltd (MPGL). Associated with commercial plumbing since the 1970s, the company moved its focus to commercial maintenance with the onset of the 2008 global financial crisis, whilst continuing to provide residential and new construction works.

“What started as the refurbishment of the derelict Britomart complex has led to creating strong relationships with a number of leading facility managers and management companies,” says Rohan. “In the past two years to date, we have completed 7,018 maintenance jobs.”

Most have been secured through word of mouth and a solid track record of doing a highly professional, thorough job. “We don’t follow the open tender market,” says Rohan. “We create relationships with a select group of clients and construction companies, then do everything we can as a team to ensure they have the best experience they have ever received.”

This is backed by a seven-year workmanship guarantee and a same day service promise for calls before 1 pm.

Design and build service

Disappointed by the lack of quality drawings and documents to price from, MacMillan Plumbing & Gas decided to provide their own design and build documentation service for client negotiations. “There was a real lack of accountability from consultants,” says Rohan. “We would lose projects, as other contractors would price low to the drawings and then pick up the discrepancies in variations. We have personnel trained in CAD and REVIT, along with an in-house hydraulic engineering skill set to solve any tricky plumbing issues. This coupled with over 400 years of collective staff experience enables us to solve any plumbing or gasfitting problem.”

Angus and Rohan with their parents Bruce and Jeni, who ran the business for many years and remain involved today.

Putting customers first

Over the past two years, staff numbers have increased by 25%, from 39 to 52—with the same percentage increase in vehicles. Similar growth is planned for the next two years. “We employ four to six new apprentices every year,” explains Rohan. “We believe it is critical for the success of the company and the industry that we do our part.”

The workforce participates in a range of training opportunities to enable them to offer a wide variety of client solutions without the need for a subcontractor. “This also gives our apprentices a chance to learn different industry skills from our knowledgeable team members,” he says.

Rohan believes having good internal staff numbers is critical in providing market-leading service. “I am complimented at least three times a week about how efficient our office staff are, which is testament to how much value we place on customer service.” Customers are always greeted by a real person, and the maintenance team stay in constant contact every step of the job. This is aided by having job management and fleet management software in the business.

There is one point of contact for all residential and large upgrade works to ensure issues are handled professionally and accurately, and the company’s contact phone number is manned 24/7.

First impressions count

Employees at MacMillan Plumbing and Gas reflect the company’s values of customer service, safety, integrity and a strong culture through their professional presentation.

All company vehicles are signwritten and display the Master Plumbers logo, and plumbers are given a company uniform with their own and the Master Plumbers logo. An annual uniform budget ensures staff always look clean and tidy.

The MacMillan Plumbing & Gas fleet has grown by 25 per cent in the past two years.

Working for the community

The company prides itself on making a difference to the wider community. “We do a lot of work with Habitat for Humanity through building partner Buildtech,” says Rohan. “It is our pleasure to provide a service for Kiwis in need, giving them a healthy home they can be proud of.”

This blog has been adapted from an article in NZ Plumber magazine, Jun/Jul 2019 issue.



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