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Putting in and giving back

Putting in and giving back
Published 19 July 2021
Rhuah and Lee Pietersen have been dreaming of starting their own plumbing business from the first year of Lee’s apprenticeship over 15 years ago. This is the story of how they made it happen.

Rhuah and Lee Pietersen have been together for 19 years. During this time they have established a family, built their forever home and became small business owners with the launch of Playford Plumbing and Gas in 2019.

Lee, a qualified plumber for 15 years, and Rhuah have been dreaming of starting their own plumbing business from the first year of Lee’s apprenticeship. “Lee wanted to work for himself as he found many employers didn’t align with his values,” said Rhuah.

Due to financial limitations and the demands of a young family, the dream of owning their own business wasn’t to be realised until 2019. However during this time Rhuah was able to undertake a Certificate II and III in Business while she looked after their eldest child, Dylan, and then study a Diploma in Business and Business Administration while she was at home with their youngest child, Ellah.

Once Ellah was at school Rhuah gained employment with the Department for Education that assisted her to build the confidence which would eventually lead her to taking on responsibilities within Playford Plumbing and Gas.

In 2019 Lee embarked on the business journey on his own, launching Playford Plumbing and Gas. Rhuah continued working independently from the business to provide financial security for the family before joining Playford Plumbing and Gas at the beginning of 2020, taking on everything from administration, payroll, marketing to finance.

Coming on board in 2020 was good timing according to Rhuah. “The pandemic brought new rules which I was able to focus on. Lee didn’t have time to look into constantly evolving restrictions that meant new personal protective equipment (PPE), areas they were allowed to service and the number of jobs they could complete, he needed to focus on getting the job done.”

Playford Plumbing and Gas was formed with a mission to give back to the community and always put the customer first.

“Lee grew up in Playford from the age of 11 when his family migrated here from the United Kingdom and I’ve lived here since I was 13. We are also heavily involved in the local sporting community as Lee has always played soccer in the area and our son is following in his footsteps, currently playing for Elizabeth Grove Soccer Club,” said Rhuah. “So for us it’s important that everything we do in our business we make sure we are looking after the local community.”

... for us it’s important that everything we do in our business we make sure we are looking after the local community.
Rhuah Pietersen

This philosophy also extends to providing work experience and employment opportunities to local people. Lee and Rhuah have taken on three local work experience students from St Patrick’s Technical College, providing hands on work experience. For Chad Davis, a local student from Angle Vale, his work experience led to an apprenticeship with the business.

“We were really impressed with Chad, he was driven with set goals he wanted to achieve in his career,” said Rhuah.

This drive was recognised by Reece Plumbing when Chad was awarded in January 2021 the ‘Trade spirit award (apprentice)’ in their ‘Reece 100 Customer Awards.’

It was around this time that Rhuah made the decision to hire a dedicated work space at the Stretton Centre to increase her productivity. After a year working from home she had started to feel unmotivated and was easily distracted by house duties. A Facebook ad promoting the dedicated work spaces at the Stretton Centre inspired Rhuah to enquire and organise a tour.

“I was stunned at what was here. “I was so impressed that I signed up on the spot, and organised my desk that day.”

Rhuah has found that she has made significant progress in her business since working from the Stretton Centre, and regained her passion for work.

“I don’t have to worry about maintain or cleaning anything here. “I just focus on what I need to do and I can bounce ideas off of other business owners or the Stretton Centre business support staff which has been really beneficial.”

In particular Rhuah was able to gain support from Mike Dunkeld, Business and Industry Growth Officer, with the development and updating of policies and procedures. She also found value in discussing marketing tactics and tools with Joe Nes, Marketing and Communications Coordinator.

“The connections I have established since working at the Stretton Centre are invaluable, and it is nice to work in a space where everyone is here for a similar reason,” said Rhuah.

For Rhuah and Lee there is nowhere besides Playford they would run their business from.

“We have spent our teenage years and beyond in Playford, and have witnessed firsthand some of the struggles and achievements of our community. “We have established ties here and don’t want to leave our community – it’s a nice place to work and be.”